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Pro Cycling Challenge Moves to Vail

Photo by Kirk Siegler
Racers get ready for the grind up Independence Pass Wednesday.

Governor John Hickenlooper will be among the thousands of spectators as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge moves to Vail Thursday for a time trial up Vail Pass.  Stage 3 of the inaugural event follows three days of well attended races along mostly isolated, rural stretches of highways in the mountains which is keeping local authorities busy.


In fact, keeping drivers off highways that are closed for up to four hours at a time is the number one priority for law enforcement including the Lake County Sheriffs’ department.

"I've not observed any real law enforcement problems, nor have I heard any," said spokeswoman Betty Benson. "I think it’s gone quite well."

Benson said 230 car several hundred people have camped along Highway 82 from the village of Twin Lakes on up Independence Pass.

State highway officials are permitting camping along the race route, something Joe Fox of Kansas City, Missouri was happy to take advantage of.

"We had Tour Missouri in Missouri for two years, kind of bummed that that’s not happening, so it was a good excuse to come out here and check out the race," Fox said.

Fox was riding down the highway on his bike to catch a glimpse of the racers, while Matt Barrett of Leadville was riding in the opposite direction bound for the pass.

"There’s more action up higher," Barrett said. "You get to see them for longer than six seconds while they’re going by on the flat ground."

Indeed, just a few minutes later, the tight pack of racers whizzed by heading into an ominous storm and the second grind of the day to 12,000 feet. And then it was Pitking County’s turn to coordinate logistics. 

Betty Benson of Lake County said local officials along the race route could have used a little more planning time.

"But we have planned for major events like the (Leadville) Trail 100 often enough that we were able to pull off our plans pretty quickly," Benson said.   

The USA Pro Cycling Challenge wraps up in Golden and downtown Denver Sunday.

View USA Pro Cycling Challenge Route in a larger map

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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