Reflections on a Week of Cycling ExcitementDale Campbell, Bent Fork Co-editorThursday, 21 August - Stage 4
: With the route of the Stage passing through a number of communities and areas of Central and Westside Colorado Springs, it took some planning to determine just what portion of the route would provide the best point to see and experience the excitement of the race. As it turned out, we were able to see the race from four different vantage points.
Our initial stop was on Mesa Road, just after the riders turned right off of North 30th
Street. We accessed this spot by parking at the end of Garden of the Gods Road and riding our bicycles to the location. Starting the climb up Mesa, the riders were strung out in an extended pace line as they passed by us on the first lap of the route. It all seemed to happen very quickly, but I was able to capture one photo of the team leading the ride at that point.
Hopping on our bikes, we rode back to the car, loaded the bikes and drove downtown, parking on Wood Avenue, just north of Colorado College. Once again taking to our bikes, we cycled to the intersection of Cache La Poudre and Tejon, arriving just in time to see the ride leaders and peloton make the turn onto Tejon. What a site seeing the cyclists speeding by in a formation that almost seemed alive with energy!. After the all the riders passed by this point, we once again took to our bicycles, riding on Tejon down to Acacia Park. To think that the race had just ridden over this portion of the course moments before left an impression on us – one in which we definitely realized that the racers could set a much faster pace than we could ever hope to achieve.
Arriving at Acacia Park, we then used the services of the Bike Valet parking that the City had set up in the Park. Staffed by members of the Colorado Springs Cycling Club, the Valet Parking enabled us to say Hi to friends and then wander further down Tejon to catch up with other long time friends and fellow cyclists. From this new vantage point on the east side of Tejon, just south of Bijou, the riders passed by in their third lap of the course. Being even closer this time, the feeling of speed was even more apparent as the lead riders and peloton whooshed past almost in a blur.
For the final pass through the last 100 meters of the coursed, we were able to position ourselves on top of a building planter box with a decent view of the finish line. Building up speed towards the finish line, the last pass of the competitors occurred very quickly, leaving only a mental image of passing colors and forms. The real treat at this point of the race was to see Jens Voigt on his final lap, greeting fans and race observers with a broad grin and a slap of the hands as he passed the crowd. To me, that’s truly a testimony for a fantastic cyclist and a genuine human being.
Bob Smith has an even better vantage point from which he took these two photos of Jens, one in full race mode and the second during the interactions with the fans.
Thanks Bob for capturing these exciting moments during Stage 4!
After the finish of the race, we were able to see the awards ceremonies. Following the excitement and action of the race itself, this portion of the day almost seemed anticlimactic. It was fun, though, to see the throngs of smiling spectators, all enjoying the festivities of the day in their own way.
Sunday, 24 August - Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb
: Sharon and I had volunteered to support the event as SAG drivers. Allen B had arranged for the SAG riders to pick up the support vehicles from the Red Nolan dealership on Saturday morning. We were provided with a Infiniti QX80 to use for the event. Not being used to this large a vehicle, it took some adjustment just to drive it away from the dealership. How was I going to drive this “tank” up the road on Pikes Peak the next morning, with the 156 turns that had to be navigated? I could see some restless sleep coming on, especially since we had to be at the entrance to Pikes Peak at 4:30am Sunday morning.
We were able to get some sleep and did arrive at the entrance in plenty of time on Sunday. Driving on up the road, we positioned ourselves at the start line and loaded up the riders bags of clothing that they would be putting on at the finish of the race. Filled to the brim with backpacks, fabric bags and plastic sacks, we started the initial drive up to the Peak at about 6am. Being the only ones on the road at that hour, it was a bit easier to accomplish the initial drive up the mountain as I continued adjusting to the oversize vehicle. And, seeing the sun rise from the road, at an elevation of over 12,000 feet was quite a sight, after beginning this journey in the blackness of the early morning.
Unfortunately, we lost that daylight and solar warmth as we neared the summit. The top of the mountain was enveloped in clouds, swirling in the gusty strong winds, with temperatures far below normal. Waiting at the top for the Race Director to open the Medical Aid building, we rested just a bit before the real activities started. Once we had unloaded our cargo, we started down the mountain with the intent to go back to the start line and pick up another load of riders’ gear. We only made it down a short distance before we started encountering cyclists coming up the mountain through the shroud of fog. With the wind and cold at the top portion of the route, there were many riders who were chilled to the bone, with some on the verge of hypothermia. Those were the ones we loaded up, bikes and all, and took as quickly as possible to the shelter and relative warmth at the top of the mountain.
Repeating this process and only making it partially back down the mountain, we were once again called up to the summit to help ferry chilled riders back to the warmth found at the start line, about a mile lower than the top of the mountain. After our fifth and final trip to the top, we were relieved to finally have the opportunity to drive to the Start line area and take a break. The 30 degree improvement from the 30 degree temps at the summit felt great! All in all, despite the challenges of the weather and logistics of the morning, we enjoyed the experience on America’s Mountain. We’re looking forward to being there again for next year’s Cycling Hill Climb!