After four decades and three pro-level cycling races, Colorado is about to get a race it can call its own.
This August, the brand-new Colorado Classic men's and women's stage race debuts with four days of cycling spread between Colorado Springs, downtown Denver and Breckenridge. First announced in January, the men's race features four stages and will be held Aug. 10-13, with starts and finishes in Colorado Springs, Breckenridge and Denver. Sanctioned by Union Cycliste Internationale and USA Cycling, the men's Colorado Classic promises to feature the sport's top squads, according to a release from event organizers with RPM Events Group. Those teams and individual athletes will be announced in late May or early June — pretty typical for a high-level event. Final course descriptions, including distances and featured mountain passes, will also be announced early this summer.
The women's race will be held on Thursday, Aug. 10, in Colorado Springs and Friday, Aug. 11, in Breckenridge, the release continued. A separate women's criterium, which is not part of the Colorado Classic stage race, will feature pro and amateur riders the evening of Aug. 11 in Denver. Those teams and athletes have already been announced, with an eclectic collection of cyclists from across the nation and world: Alp Cycles Women's Racing Team (Colorado based), Amy D. Foundation Team (Colorado based), Colavita/Bianchi, Cylance Pro Cycling, Sho-Air Twenty20 and six more.
WOMEN, BACK IN THE SADDLE
The women's Colorado Classic races continue a long and proud tradition of pro female cycling in Colorado. It began in the mid-'70s with the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic — considered the largest pro-level women's race in the world at the time — and continued on through the Coors Classic and now-defunct USA Pro Challenge, which added women's time trials and abbreviated races to its seven-stage format in 2014 and 2015.
"I raced in Colorado in 1977 for the first time in the race known as the Red Zinger, which grew into one of the biggest bike races in the world," said Connie Carpenter-Phinney of Boulder, who won the first-ever gold medal in a women's Olympic road race and is married to cycling legend Davis Phinney. "Now, 40 years later, I'm excited to see Colorado once again leading the way forward for men's and women's pro racing."
In mid-March, organizers announced that the women's Colorado Classic was added to the prestigious USA Cycling Pro Road Tour, which showcases the premier domestic road events in the United States.
"The U.S. has consistently produced women who have won Olympic medals and World Championships," said Sean Petty, women's race director and UCI Road Commission. "I'm proud we get to showcase some of the best riders in the world for two tough days of women's racing in Colorado … The PRT highlights some of the best teams and athletes in our sport and we think not just race fans, but fans of amazing athletes, will be impressed by the caliber of riders and quality of racing they see in August."
The PRT showcases a slew of events, including criteriums, road races, stage races and omniums. Over six months, with races spanning from coast to coast, the PRT will include overall individual and team rankings for men and women, crowning PRT Champions following the 21-event calendar. The PRT features the nation's top road race events, including the Tour of California, and is open to both professional and amateur cyclists.
The amateur angle is another oddity for the Colorado Classic. Unlike the USA Pro Challenge, which struggled to be recognized on the same level as events like the Tour de France, the Classic is touted as a pro-am mashup. After four days of men's racing and two days of women's racing, Colorado Classic organizers hope new faces — and new legends — will emerge.
"The Colorado Classic's commitment to a women's race is important for women's cycling in general, and will serve as a great platform to recruit new participants and fans to the sport," said Laura Charameda, a former pro rider and World Championship winner who serves as the director of competition for the Colorado Classic women's race. "Women's cycling is in a growth phase globally and interest is strong in North America, so we expect a robust response to the women's event in Colorado."
This summer, like just about every summer, Summit County is home to more than 15 major mountain bike and road bike races, from the Summit Mountain Challenge town series and fabled end-of-season Fall Classic to the brand-new Colorado Classic, the latest pro-level event in North America and a replacement for the now-defunct USA Pro Challenge. Sprints, tours, 50 milers, 100 milers, bike parties and bashes — you want it, we've got it.
Here's a preseason preview of the summer biking season to come. Be sure to sign up now for popular events like the Breck 100, Triple Bypass and 106° West Triathlon. They tend to fill up fast, and you can usually save money with early bird registration.
The 31st season of the midweek Summit Mountain Challenge series makes it debut on June 7 with the Frisco Roundup. Held on trails at the Frisco Peninsula — usually one of the first areas to dry out after winter — the Wednesday race is a mellow "welcome back" to the mountain-biking season, with categories for men, women and juniors. Rides range from 4 miles to 21 miles, depending on division.
Registration for the series is $25 for adults ($30 on race day) and $15 for juniors (18 years old and younger). A pass for the full seven-race series is $175 or $125 without The Fall Classic. To sign up, see the roundup tab at MavSports.com.
The second installment in the Summit Mountain Challenge series takes riders to the trails northeast of Breckenridge in the Gold Run Road area. Rides ranges from 4 miles to 17.5 miles, with categories for men, women and juniors, plus ability divisions.
Registration fees are the same as all other series events. To sign up, see the Gold Run Rush tab at MavSports.com.
The North American Big Mountain Enduro series returns to Keystone Resort for race three on June 24, featuring five to six laps in a single day on the tight, rocky, tree-lined trails of the Keystone Downhill Park. The series also stops in Vail, Winter Park, Aspen Snowmass and Crested Butte, but the Keystone stop regularly fills up.
Registration is $125 for the various divisions. To sign up, see the Keystone tab at BigMountainEnduro.com.
Breck Bike Week isn't just for mountain bikers. The Lake Loop Fondo takes road riders on a 40-mile lollypop loop from Breckenridge to Lake Dillon, Swan Mountain Road and back, all on the paved Summit County recpath system. The best part: It's free. Meet loop leaders with Breck Bike Guides in Blue River Plaza on Main Street at 9 a.m. For more Breck Bike Week info, see the event tab at GoBreck.com.
The second Breck Mtn Enduro returns to the whip-fast trails at Breckenridge Ski Resort for the Satuday of Breck Bike Week. Starting at 10 a.m., riders compete on a mostly downhill course for prizes, bragging rights and all the glory. It's the third race in the Summit Mountain Challenge series.
Registration is $45 for adults and $35 for juniors (11-17 years old), and fees include bike haul on the chairlifts, a post-race meal and beverages. To sign up, see the Breck Mtn Enduro tab at MavSports.com.
There's not better way to end Breck Bike Week than a laid-back, low-key "poker ride" through Breck's most popular trails. Participants ride around town, collecting the best poker hand at various stops to win prizes and raise cash for the local nonprofit. Registration is $30 for adults and $20 for juniors (17 years old and younger). Things get started at 9 a.m.
The one, the only Firecracker 50 is back for a day of grinding on Breck's best trails before Fourth of July shenanigans begin. The race starts during the annual July 4 parade down Main Street Breckenridge and ends at Carter Park with a post-race bash. The distance is (get this) 50 miles for all competitors with divisions for men, women, juniors and teams.
Registration is $100 for the pro/open division, $90 for all other divisions and $150 for the two-person relay. To sign up, see the Firecracker 50 tab at MavSports.com.
No, it's not code name for a road bike heart attack. The Triple Bypass, one of the biggest and most popular road tours, returns for its 29th season in 2017 with 120 miles and 10,000 vertical feet of climbing over three classic passes: Juniper Pass, Loveland Pass and Vail Pass, plus Swan Mountain Road and Sapphire Point for good measure.
Registration is open now at a rate of $165 for Saturday, $150 for Sunday and $295 for both days. Fees includes a Triple Bypass jersey, swag bag, food, energy bars, hydration stations and full support from start to finish. For more info, see TripleBypass.org.
The fourth annual Frisco Triathlon takes place Saturday, July 15. This unique triathlon features a 3K stand-up paddleboard leg, 12K mountain-biking leg and a 5K trail run. The Frisco Triathlon was named "Best Triathlon" in Elevation Outdoors Magazine's 2016 reader poll. This twist on a triathlon is open to all ability levels and encourages athletes to take on a new multi-sport event with beautiful Dillon Reservoir and the Frisco Peninsula serving as the event location.
Race four in the Summit Mountain Challenge Series features a course on the southeast side of Breckenridge, including classic routes like Boreas Pass Road and tricky climbs like something known simply as "the Grind." Distances range from 4 miles to 14.5 miles, depending on ability division.
Registration fees are the same as all other series events. To sign up, see the Pennsylvania Gulch Grind tab at MavSports.com.
One day, 100 miles, 13,719 vertical feet of climbing — it doesn't get much bigger and bolder than the Breck 100. Now in its 12th season, the annual ultra-endurance ride regularly draws top-level pros training for the Leadville Trail 100 MTB on Aug. 12, along with plenty of Average Joes who just want to suffer for a day on some of the prettiest trails in Colorado. There are divisions for full 100 milers, 68 milers and 32 milers, plus two and three-person relay teams.
Registration is $195 for the 100 ($285 for teams), $125 for the 68 ($190 for teams) and $85 for the 32. To sign up and find out more, see the Breck 100 tab at WarriorsCycling.com.
The fifth event in the Summit Mountain Challenge Series gets away from Breckenridge for a tour of the hills and valleys west of Keystone. The ride begins at the Keystone Stables and leads south toward Breckenridge, passing the Colorado Trail along the way. Distances range from about 4 miles to 15.5 miles.
Registration fees are the same as all other series events. To sign up, see the Soda Creek Scramble tab at MavSports.com.
Come August, Colorado's newest professional bicycle race will roll through downtown Breckenridge. From Aug. 10-13, an international field of professional male and female cyclists will race more than 300 total miles on multiple circuits, with start and finish lines for each stage located in the same town. Racing begins in Colorado Springs on Aug. 10 with men's and women's races before moving to Breckenridge on Aug. 11 for a men's-only race. While the guys are in Breck, the women wrap up their portion of the Colorado Classic with a circuit event under the lights in Denver. The event wraps up on Aug. 12 and 13 with two men's races, also in Denver. Stay tuned to the Summit Daily for more info as the Colorado Classic gets closer.
The Breck Epic, Summit County's answer to the Leadville Trail 100 MTB, is just as big and just as burly as its counterpart: six stages, 240 total miles and roughly 40,000 vertical feet of climbing. Riders get it all, from Wheeler Trail up and over Breckenridge to the Colorado Trail and Mount Guyot. It's going to be painful, but it's not to be missed if you love spending hours in the saddle.
Registration is $899 for the full six-stage race or $549 for three-day chunks. Online registration closes on Aug. 10 at BreckEpic.com.
The sixth race in the Summit Mountain Challenge series is a doozy: time trial riding on the rough-and-rugged Peaks Trail from Breckenridge to Frisco. It's mostly downhill, but that doesn't mean it's easy. The distance is the same for all divisions and categories, with riders leaving at 30-second intervals.
Registration fees are the same as all other series events. To sign up, see the Peaks Trail Time Trial tab at MavSports.com.
Summit's first (and only) half-Iron Man is back for a second season with the first (and only) swim event at Dillon Reservoir. At a starting elevation of 9,000 feet and peak of nearly 10,300 feet, it's also the highest Iron Man of any distance in the world.
The 106° West Tri features two distances — a half-Iron Man and quarter-Iron Man — featuring a 1.2-mile swim, 56-mile bike and 13.1-mile run for the half distance on a course between the reservoir and Montezuma outside of Keystone. All participants must be 18 years old or older for the half, or 14 years old or older for the quarter. Pre-registration is closed and regular registration hasn't opened yet, so keep an eye on the website for details this May at 106WestTri.com.
One of the longest-running mountain bike races in Breckenridge returns for its 33rd season this September. Dubbed the "last big race in the High Country," The Fall Classic doubles as the final event in the Summit Mountain Challenge series, taking riders on a small course (21 miles, 3,000 vertical feet of climbing) and a big course (30 miles, 4,800 vertical feet of climbing) over the area's best trails: French Gulch trails, Flumes trails, Boreas Pass, good-old Humbug Hill and more.
Registration is open now at $50 for adults, $30 for juniors (ages 11-18) and free for juniors younger than 10 years old. Fees include a post-race meal and party at Carter Park in Breck. For more info, see The Fall Classic tab at MavSports.com.
Not Martha's Vineyard, the Teton mountain range, nor Alaska's capital city could keep Breckenridge and Summit County from capturing the top slot in this year's Arts Vibrancy Index, an annual nationwide survey of artistic communities.
Having first appeared in 2014, the study by the National Center for Arts Research at Southern Methodist University ranks cities of similar sizes in three groups: small, medium and large.
Some of the communities are fairly compact and easy to determine. Others, like the metropolitan divisions that make up the Chicago MSA, are spread across large distances and numerous states, according to the researchers.
The study itself is relatively new and still evolving. In 2014 and 2015, for example, small- and medium-sized cities were lumped in together, whereas this year they were divided into separate classifications.
In the first year the report was issued, Breckenridge finished fourth behind No. 1 Glenwood Springs; No. 2 Santa Fe, New Mexico; and No. 3 Jackson, Wyoming.
In 2015, Jackson moved up to No. 1 while Glenwood Springs fell to No. 2 and Santa Fe came in third. Meanwhile, Breckenridge held steady at No. 4, ahead of Edwards at No. 5 and two Montana cities in sixth and seventh.
Interestingly, Jackson fell to No. 9 on the small cities list this year, while Glenwood Springs failed to make the cut and Breckenridge jumped into the top slot for small cities.
It came as welcome news for local tourism officials on an otherwise cold, gray day, and Robb Woulfe, president and CEO of BreckCreate, was quick to point out this designation is a reflection of the entire Summit County arts community, not just one group.
The results are based largely on data collected from various sources, including the U.S. Census Bureau and the IRS, as the survey aimed to gauge the demand, supply and public support for arts and culture in 937 communities across the country and ranked them.
The rankings provide order, but do not show how close or far one city may be from the next even if they are ranked side-by-side. As a result, there could be large gaps or close bunches not reflected in the rankings.
"Our measures are aggregated across the 11 arts and cultural sectors that are featured in NCAR's reports: Arts Education, Art Museums, Community, Dance, Music, Opera, Performing Arts Center, Symphony Orchestra, Theater, Other Museum, and Multidisciplinary Performing Arts," the 2017 report states.
Specifically, researchers weighted what they called "art dollars" and "art providers" the heaviest, giving each 45 percent, while tossing "government grant activity" a passing nod with the remaining 10 percent of the ranking.
For the study, art dollars were defined as the quantifiable demand for nonprofit arts and cultural programming while researchers measured the number of arts providers in any given community with data showing the number of arts employees, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, arts, culture and entertainment firms, and independent artists in the community. Predictably, grant activity included the number and amounts of state and federal grants in the community.
Breckenridge received its highest marks in the arts providers portion of the survey, ranking third overall and in the top 10 for arts and culture employees and arts and culture organizations.
Another high mark, the city ranked ninth overall for arts dollars, with the subset categories of program revenue, contributed revenue, total expenses and total compensation all ranked between 10th and 14th nationwide.
For grant activity, Breckenridge was considerably lower on the scale, coming in 61st overall.
Additionally, the study focused on the Breckenridge MSA, which is Summit County, and the top ranking is a reflection of the wealth of applicable criteria across the county's 619 square miles more than it is just for Breckenridge.
Coincidentally, Breckenridge finished ahead of second-place Summit County, Utah, another community bolstered by its nearby ski resorts.
Rounding out the top five for the small cities were, respectively, Bennington, Vermont; Bozeman, Montana; and Hudson, New York, also known as "Upstate's Downtown."
Juneau, Alaska, which came in No. 8 for small cities, was the only ranked city outside contiguous U.S. in any classification. Behind Alaska's capital city for the small cities were No. 9 Jackson, Wyoming, and No. 10 Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts, which includes Martha's Vineyard and the surrounding islands.
No state was better represented across the board than Massachusetts, which had two cities each in the small (Nos. 6 and 10), medium (Nos. 1 and 9) and large (Nos. 6 and 12) classifications, while states without a single city on any list included Nevada, Arizona, the Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Missouri, Arkansas, Michigan, Maine, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Delaware and Rhode Island.
Additionally, Denver was ranked 14th for the large cities and the only other Colorado location to make any of the three lists.
For the complete report, go to SMU.edu/artsresearch.
With land parcels quickly becoming a rare commodity in Breckenridge, the town council decided to redevelop the Block 11 and McCain properties on the western side of Colorado State Highway 9 coming into town. The council this week gave the direction to move forward with soil testing on the McCain property. It also decided to look into how many units would be needed for housing and the feasibility of adding service commercial areas.
During its Tuesday work session, the town council reviewed master plans for the two adjacent parcels of land, which total approximately 201.4 acres.
Developed with Norris Designs, the plans outlined uses for both properties, such as workforce housing and a possible parking structure. The first plan for Block 11 was originally put together in 2007, while the McCain project had a more recent update in 2013. Town spokeswoman Kim Dykstra said that the master plans for the two pieces of land were originally developed separately, but the council now wants to look at them as a whole due to their proximity to each other. She added that the council will determine whether the housing and parking proposals on the two pieces of land make sense together.
"To have still any vacant property available to do some planning around is a luxury," said Councilwoman Wendy Wolfe. "We still do have room to build some great neighborhoods and keep more locals living in our community."
Councilman Jeffrey Bergeron agreed, adding that the large size of the property meant that the council had a lot of options to look at.
Denison Placer is only a small piece of potential developments that could find a home on the two pieces of property. Block 11, the smaller of the two developments at 18.1 available acres, has room for an additional 246 units after Denison Placer is completed. The McCain property sits on 128.6 acres, but already includes some planned projects such as the water plant and a proposal that would expand the solar garden area. Despite the other development projects on the land, the master plan estimates that 200 workforce-housing units will fit on the property.
While Wolfe said that she originally thought it was good to look at developing Block 11 as one chunk, it may be better to now look at it in separate pieces.
"You don't want the neighborhood to be too compartmentalized. You do want it to have a good feel to it; you want to build a good livable neighborhood," she said.
Part of this is due to the evolving needs of the town, such as overflow parking. She added that there is room for a relationship between the potential workforce housing neighborhood and Airport Road, which has recently seen more organic retail growth such as the expansion of Broken Compass Brewing. The interest in the area could draw future businesses.
"If we master plan the whole thing with no opportunity for that, are we doing ourselves a disservice?" Wolfe questioned.
Mayor Eric Mamula voiced similar concerns during the work session saying that he didn't want to have a strict plan before a developer comes on board. Flexibility would allow for more organic growth in the area.
Both Wolfe and Bergeron are also interested in the different possibilities for open space on the large parcels of land. Bergeron said that since the area is really the first view for people driving into Breckenridge, an open space area would be ideal.
The Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Commission recently received a grant of $350,000 for Oxbow Park, which is planned for Block 11.
Wolfe said that the area could be developed for beginner trails.
"That is such a beautiful place out there now that the river's restored," she said.
It is estimated the plant will cost $53 million. The proposal during Tuesday's meeting looked at potential designs for the plant, as well as the support buildings that accompany it. The plans include building and lighting designs for the water treatment plant, a pump station as well as four other buildings and parking lots. The planning commission held a hearing for the plant on April 18 and recommended to the council to move forward with the plan.
The return of mud season as the past winter's snow begins to melt also means the re-emergence of local black bears in search of food following months of hibernation.
April and May are still early into bear season and Summit County has not had any incidents of note thus far, but Colorado Parks and Wildlife prefers to keep it that way. The state animal management agency knows such situations can materialize quickly if homeowners or visitors to the area don't uphold their duty of trying to prevent human-bear conflicts.
"If people live in bear territory in Colorado, and anymore that is a big part of the state, this is the time of year when they're active and looking for food," said Mike Porras, CPW's northwest region spokesman. "Some unfortunately learn these areas are a steady source of food from trash or some people feeding them — which is highly irresponsible — and once rewarded willingly or unwillingly, these bears are likely to come back to those areas, neighborhoods and homes."
Avoiding such episodes keeps not only the region's residents safe, but the animals themselves, too. That entails abiding by a handful of recommendations when cooking out, throwing away garbage or during overnight outdoor stays.
Using bear-proof containers and storing food properly outside of a tent are best practices to follow when camping. Bears have a heightened sense of smell, so ensuring all food and seasonings are burned off completely from grills and fires is another easy step, as is locking up trash containers completely to avert them from being habituated, making bears comfortable with human interactions. In addition, bringing bird feeders inside at night helps to keep them from becoming attractants to hungry mammals out hunting for a quick meal.
"At this point of the year we can still get late frost, and that could impact their mast crop," Porras said of typical early-season bear cuisine, like acorns, berries and forms of vegetation. "When their natural food is plentiful, they tend to stick to that. But once their systems are back to natural function they start to look at other sources of food, and if they find an easy source, they're opportunists and will certainly return."
Understanding what necessitates contacting district wildlife officers or emergency response is also important. Merely seeing a bear is not a reason to call. So long as the animal moves along, that's not cause for alarm over human welfare. It's when a bear sticks around or returns for food and shows a lack of fear that is concerning.
When that happens, CPW should be called to the scene to tranquilize and relocate the animal. The bear is tagged and taken between 50-100 miles away. From there, if it reappears or exhibits similar assertive behaviors, like repeatedly getting into the trash or posing a threat to human life, then it would be euthanized.
In some instances, the "two-strike" state policy does not apply. If a bear breaks into a home or sometimes even a tent, per an officer's discretion, the animal can instantly be killed. If a bear attacks, say, a sheep, that's also grounds for putting the animal down.
Landowners, just the same as people in the outdoors, are permitted to protect human life and that of their livestock with lethal force. Those incidents should immediately be reported to CPW, however, and a full investigation will take place to verify a proper justification for the action.
Steering clear of the scenario from the get-go remains the priority. Bears do not see humans as prey, but they can become aggressive toward people, especially if suddenly cornered or with cubs. And welcoming these massive animals back to an area repeatedly by either feeding them or ducking the charge to hinder them from becoming accustomed to certain circumstances endangers all related parties.
"If you don't follow regulations, you're putting yourself in jeopardy, and your neighbors in jeopardy," said Porras. "None of our officers wants to put down a bear, and it's the worst part of job, but they will carry out that responsibility when necessary for human health and safety."
Breckenridge and Silverthorne town council meetings upcoming this week.
During their work session and meeting on Tuesday, the Breckenridge Town Council will discuss the new water plant project on the McCain property.
The council will do a first reading on an ordinance conveying town-owned property for the Broken Compass Brewing Company. The council will then discuss an ordinance on fees for restaurants and lounges, specifically relating to snack bars and delis. Council will vote on a resolution for an open space acquisition of land at Sawlog and Wonderful Lot 2.
During the work session the council will hear about a waste and recycling program from the High County Conservation Center. The work session will end in an executive session.
This Wednesday, the Silverthorne Town Council will swear in Kevin McDonald, who will fill Peggy Long's vacant seat. Now that the council is full, members will vote on who will replace Long as mayor pro tem for the town and review committee assignments. The council will then do a second reading for an appropriations ordinance as well as reviewing a conditional use permit for the Silverthorne Veterinary Hospital.
The council will also vote to adopt the master plan for North Pond Park. The council is looking at a petition to establish a public hearing date to annex the Colorado Department of Transportation Maintenance Facility.