Chain of events is leading to something good |

Chain of events is leading to something good

Casper's Corner
Jeff Caspersen
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

By Sunday evening, Bill Sommers and Mitch Hyra were spent.

Back-to-back 20-hour work days will do that to you.

But what they spent those countless hours doing made it all worthwhile in their eyes.

With Sommers and Hyra playing maestro and so many others chipping in, the Western Slope Omnium was born.

In case you didn’t see any of the recent write-ups on it, the Omnium was a two-stage bicycle racing event that hit the Glenwood Springs area Saturday and Sunday. It started with a road race along the Colorado River in the Dotsero-Gypsum area and finished with a criterium on a course comprising streets in downtown Glenwood Springs on Sunday.

Around 350 riders raced Saturday and around 250 turned out Sunday, leaving event organizers Sommers and Hyra to bask in a dream weekend.

The event, by most accounts the first big-time race in Glenwood since the early 1990s, was American Cycling Association-sanctioned, which helped matters considerably. Juniors also picked up points for the Tom Danielson Junior Race Series.

Most importantly, the weekend served as a competitive outlet for the most serious of Western Slope cyclists, who typically have to travel to the Front Range for ACA events.

Given Glenwood’s natural advantages ” beautiful, if grueling to bike, mountains and a serene, rural setting that more easily accommodates logistical challenges like shutting down city streets for lengthy periods of time ” it’s hard to imagine it’s taken this long for such an event to grace the area.

“Glenwood has a lot to offer ” the mountains, a small-town atmosphere,” said Hyra, who would love nothing more than to see competitive cycling grow in the Glenwood area. “The mountains are full of athletes. People love the outdoors. Everybody has their own focus, like kayaking, climbing fourteeners, mountain biking. Even though there are a ton of cyclists, there are not a lot of racers. We’d like to get more people interested in organized cycling.”

Hyra would know as well as anyone the strength of cycling’s pulse in the area as the co-director of Squadra Velocita, a regional women’s cycling development team based locally.

That expertise also applies to Sommers, who’s tied into the organized cycling community locally as manager of Two Rivers Cycling Club, a growing all-ages organization that features a heavy concentration of competitive juniors.

Both knew well enough how to organize a local race, and it was a smashing success ” save a herd of cattle and a feisty bull that briefly interrupted Saturday’s road race.

Personally, it was awesome to see something of the Western Slope Omnium’s kind in Glenwood Springs. Sunday’s criterium made for a spectacular spectator event. With riders turning laps on the half-mile downtown course at ridiculous speeds, you can’t help but find yourself in awe at the strength, endurance and technical prowess on display.

For those very reasons, I hope to see the Western Slope Omnium back next year. And, judging by the number of registrants and the event’s largely positive reception this year, it sounds like that’ll happen.

Contact Jeff Caspersen: 384-9123

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