Pro bike race organizers give tips to spectators |

Pro bike race organizers give tips to spectators

Bicycle riders who want to check out the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on Independence Pass won’t face the same restrictions as vehicles, organizers said Wednesday.

“Bicycles will be allowed on the race route at all times, but you will be asked to dismount as the race approaches,” a press release from organizers said.

The organizers gave out numerous tips for watching the race and dealing with the big crowds as the first pro cycling event in Colorado since the late 1980s prepares to launch. The Pro Cycling Challenge will start Monday with a prologue in Colorado Springs. The first stage of the race will be from Salida to Mount Crested Butte on Tuesday, then Wednesday the “Queen Stage” takes many of the best riders in the world from Gunnison to Aspen. The stage crosses Cottonwood and Independence Passes, both over 12,000 feet.

Race fans have been plotting where to watch the race and wondering how highway closures will affect them. Independence Pass will be closed to vehicles in both directions starting at 11 a.m. Wednesday, but bike traffic will be allowed, organizers said. Cottonwood Pass will close to vehicles at 3 p.m. on Aug. 23 for road preparations.

Here is some basic information about the Gunnison-to-Aspen stage, from a press release:

Teams will arrive in Gunnison at 8:30 a.m. and rider sign-in begins at 9 a.m. The race begins at 10 a.m.

Key places to watch the stage include the start in Gunnison, sprint lines – where points are awarded – at Almont and Buena Vista, the King of the Mountain point lines at the summits of Cottonwood Pass and Independence Pass, and the finish at Aspen.

The lead racers are expected in Aspen sometime between 3:30 and 4 p.m., depending on weather conditions.

Parking at the King of the Mountain areas and along the top of the ascents of the passes will be very difficult. Vehicles won’t be allowed to park in strategic places more than 24 hours before the advance time the race is expected to pass that location.

The Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol announced earlier this week that they will make exemptions to usual rules and allow parking and camping along the highways used for the race, in the spirit of the great European bike tours. Vehicles must be safely off the roads.

“If the area becomes overwhelmed with vehicles, including trailers, or the number of vehicles in an area is deemed excessive, the Colorado Department of Transportation and Colorado State Patrol will clear the area and require vehicles to move to another location,” the organizers’ press release said.

The city of Aspen is advising spectators to plan ahead because of likely congestion. Parking spaces will be tougher than usual to find because the city parking garage will be closed to the public: It will be reserved for vehicles affiliated with the race, from cars serving the bike teams to race officials and media.

Motorists approaching Aspen from the west are advised to use the Intercept Lot at Highway 82 and Brush Creek Road, then take a Roaring Fork Transportation Authority bus into town. Service will be every 30 minutes until 10:30 a.m., then about every 10 minutes, according to Nancy Leslie, the city’s director of special events.

Leslie advised spectators to walk or ride bicycles in Aspen on race day: “The streets are open, they’re just not open to vehicles,” she said.

The race will finish at the Pitkin County Courthouse after descending Independence Pass. Spectators can line the race route and three big screens will be positioned at Wagner Park, at Cooper and Galena, and on Mill Street near Main Street. Versus will cover the race from 2 to 4 p.m.

More information on the race is available at

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