A number of Indy staff headed out today to shoot the USA Pro Cycling Challenge as it hit downtown Colorado Springs as the cyclists crossed the finish line and the winners took the podium.
Here's a slideshow of shots from Kirsten Akens, Matthew Schniper and Fran Zankowski.
After climbing Independence Pass and descending into Aspen yesterday, all Michael Creed could think about was coming back up that pass today.
“The whole time, I’m just like — I was getting depressed,” he says. “I was like, fuck, this is gonna be horrific.”
So maybe he just wanted a distraction this morning, before starting Stage 4 of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Regardless, the Colorado Springs-based professional cyclist — who started the day at No. 24 in the race standings — graciously checked in a few hours ago to confirm that his @COFireSale has shattered his $20,000 fundraising goal.
“I think when all is said and done, it’s gonna be on the doorstep of $35,000,” he says.
Creed says about 70 cyclists and cycling organizations donated a cumulative total of approximately 100 items to the Fire Sale, the post-Waldo Canyon Fire eBay auction he set up to raise money for the Pikes Peak Red Cross. Among them are a few items still for sale online; Creed adds that a few other items came in late and haven’t yet been put online.
“I mean, that was his first year ever having it, so it’s probably a pretty precious item to him,” Creed says. “And he gave it away.”
That jersey alone raised $2,000, a large chunk of the $33,000-plus collected to date.
Creed, who’s lived in Colorado Springs since he was 12, says he initially shot for $20,000 even though the goal seemed “ridiculous”; to hit $35,000 is deeply satisfying.
But he says he’s basically dropped his initial vision of handing over a big check to the Red Cross after Stage 5 ends here tomorrow. For one thing, all the money is going to the Red Cross automatically, through the eBay site. But also, “Ultimately, it sounded kind of selfish,” he says.
Instead, the member of the Optum Pro Cycling presented by Kelly Benefit Strategies team says, “I’m just gonna try to race really hard into town.
“I mean, it’s a long shot to win the stage, ‘cause it’s gonna be kind of a sprinter’s stage, and I’m not much of a sprinter, but I’m definitely gonna try to win that stage, you know?”
If you’re interested in cheering him on, or saying thanks, or both, watch for the black-white-and-orange jerseys tomorrow.
——- ORIGINAL POST, AUG. 11, 2:35 P.M. ——-
Plenty of people are hoping that this year's much-televised USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which will come through the Pikes Peak region Aug. 24, will help potential visitors forget about the scary images from the Waldo Canyon Fire. But at least one local is enlisting the cycling community to help people remember, and raise money.
That's Michael Creed, a fascinating and accomplished cyclist in his own right, who's started COFireSale (@cofiresale). It's an eBay auction of high-level gear, signed cycling memorabilia and other stuff, donated by all kinds of cycling types, that will be routing all proceeds to the Pikes Peak Chapter of the American Red Cross.
As Creed, a 17-year Springs resident, put it in an email to us:
To be able to hand the local Red Cross a check for 20k at the finish of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge stage in Colorado Springs would be amazing. To show the local community that the cyclist and bike races are more than traffic delays, and funny men in spandex. We give back when it's needed.
A look at his eBay page shows that a few days remain to make bids. For more, check out this velonews.com story about his effort, which notes that 2011 Pro Cycling champ Levi Leipheimer and Colorado-bred Olympian Timmy Duggan have stepped up to join the donors.
Cafe Velo was hopping last night with a visit by retired Italian pro-cyclist Mario Cipollini.
As part of an open house at the bike/coffee shop that raised dollars for Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado's Waldo Canyon Fire fund, Cipollini signed silent-auction items and made the rounds, smiling for fans' cameras.
For those not familiar with the 45-year-old cyclist, Cipollini was one of the top sprinters of his time. Between 1989 and 2003, he won a total of 42 stages in the Giro d'Italia, 12 in the Tour de France, 11 in the Tour de Romandie, and seven in Paris-Nice. He's recognized as being the rider who developed the sprint train, basically a process by which a team of cyclists work together as they close in on the finish line to keep their team's sprinter at the front of the race — something we'll likely get to see in action here Friday during the final moments of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge's Stage 5
As he told the crowd last night, however, Cipollini feels his greatest accomplishment was winning the 2002 World Cycling Championships.
Last night wasn't the only chance to connect with Cipollini. Die-hard cyclists who would like to ride with him Friday morning through the Garden of the Gods can do so — for $500. It benefits the Local Organizing Committee of the Challenge, and gives you a bunch of other perks. Details below. Register ASAP by e-mailing here.
Today's the day, people.
You know, the one we were talking about big time here last week.
The 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge has arrived.
And live coverage via the tour tracker starts now.
Don't worry about watching it at your desk. We've already talked to all of your bosses and they're cool with it.
Enjoy the ride.
The event, in its second year, will cross the state between Aug. 20 and 26, beginning in Durango and ending once again in Denver. Colorado Springs will host the finish of Stage 5 on Aug. 24, which will start that morning in Breckenridge and finish with three circuits around downtown that afternoon. While the riders are not expected to hit the Springs until 3 or 4 p.m., the downtown core will begin celebrating at 11 a.m. with music, an expo, the obligatory beer gardens and other activities.
In 2011, the Challenge brought $83 million to the state, and per Jenkins and others at the event, the community is ready for an even bigger year than last. So far, five of the top 10 riders at the 2012 Tour de France have confirmed that they will be in attendance. While TdF winner Bradley Wiggins has not yet confirmed, the Challenge is still in pursuit of the first Brit to win the Tour. "Wiggo" must first tackle winning gold for his country with his four road-racing teammates at the 2012 London Olympics tomorrow.
As for the Springs, the T-shirts are ready.
As are the cowbells.
Now we just need the riders.
Longtime Air Force Falcons coach Fisher DeBerry is scheduled to be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in South Bend, Ind., tomorrow. Here's a snippet from a Thursday Denver Post story:
His qualifications on the field are impeccable. His 169 victories to go with 109 losses and a tie (1984-2006) made him the winningest service academy football coach ever, surpassing legendary coaches Earl "Red" Blaik (121) at Army and his predecessor, Ben Martin (96), at Air Force. But DeBerry isn't just another name among the greats of the college game.
"There's awesome responsibility to being a coach today," DeBerry said in a phone interview. "The game should be all about the players who are involved and the institutions they represent. There's great responsibility for a coach to do what's right for his school and program. We need to re-examine what college football is all about. It seems to be going in a crazy direction right now."
When it comes to cycling in the Springs, there's perhaps no more important figure than former U.S. Olympic racer, current personal trainer and Springs resident Chris Carmichael.
Back in 1984, Carmichael competed in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and was part of the first American cycling team to compete in the Tour de France two years later. He also famously coached Lance Armstrong to seven Tour de France victories. Today, he operates Carmichael Training Systems.
The Indy reached out via email to the prolific local, who's helped the Springs earn two consecutive spots on the USA Pro Cycling Challenge schedule, to ask him what the event means to the city and the sport.
"The USAPCC is a very big deal," Carmichael says. There are only three races in the country that can attract the best-of-the-best from the other hemisphere, he figures, and our Challenge is one of them, alongside the Amgen Tour of California and the Tour of Utah. "Many Tour de France riders will have the USA Pro Cycling Challenge on their calendars for August."
The Tour de France, considered by most to be the ultimate challenge of cycling, is a "grand tour" that's currently entering its third and final week. While the Challenge runs only seven days, the altitude sets it apart.
"The highest summits the riders cross in the Tour de France are at about 9,000 feet in elevation. Some of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge stages start at 9,000 feet, and the riders will climb to more than 12,000 feet," making it an exceptionally taxing race, says Carmichael.
And while last year locals got to see the prologue of the first-ever Challenge, we're treated again this year as the destination for the stage on Aug. 24: The riders will actually rifle through downtown three times before they're done. "Of all the stages in the 2012 race, Colorado Springs is the only stage with a circuit finish," Carmichael says, "which allows fans to see more of the racing."
——- ORIGINAL POST, THURSDAY, 2:50 P.M. ——-
With only five-plus weeks until kickoff, it's time for a reminder — and some good news.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the biggest bike race on U.S. soil, will return to Colorado from Aug. 20 to 26 — passing through Woodland Park, Manitou Springs and Colorado Springs on Friday, Aug. 24. You may remember that last year's challenge boasted the entire Tour de France Top 3, for the first time ever in the States. This year, luminaries including 2011 Pro Cycling champ Levi Leipheimer and 2011 Tour de France winner Cadel Evans have signed on again.
The French event is going on now, followed by the Summer Olympics in London. After that, these titans of two-wheeled transport will descend on the Rocky Mountains for the third huge rally in the span of a month, and some of the toughest terrain they'll ever face.
Snaking from Durango to Denver over seven grueling days, the riders will do battle with nine mountain passes over single-day stretches as long as 130 miles, and with elevation changes nearing 4,000 vertical feet.
Day 5, however, finds the riders tackling a rare mostly downhill stage from Breckenridge to Colorado Springs via the route familiar to many powder-hounds: Colorado Highway 9 to U.S. Highway 24. They'll then race through Garden of the Gods before finishing with some dramatic circuits downtown, both prime spots for spectators. According to the Stage 5 profile on the event's official website, though, the fastest speeds of the race will happen as riders come flying down the hill into Woodland Park.
Viewing the event is free — just find a spot along the road and watch 'em go. VIP passes, however, will get you into special seats and autograph lines, plus behind-the-scenes access and even food. They'll run you anywhere from $75 to $500 per ticket, depending on location and amenities available.
For you serious bike enthusiasts, the entire release from USA Pro Cycling Challenge can be found after the jump.
Social media's a wonderful thing, and the Olympics are pretty great too, so enjoy the combination of the two by firing up your typing fingers and hitting one of these Facebook or Twitter sessions. Various athletes from Team USA are available until 3 p.m. MST.
What do tennis, golf and Ultimate [Frisbee] all have in common?
From July 5 through 8, the co-ed, invitation-only tournament will play host to the highest-level Ultimate teams from the U.S., Canada and even Colombia — which, apparently, has a robust Ultimate Frisbee culture, with three of its teams making the journey to the Springs.
Tickets cost $10 per day, with a 4-day pass setting you back $30.
One of the teams competing in the Open division is Denver/Boulder’s own Johnny Bravo squad. Co-captain Josh Ackely says he expects a challenge.
“I expect this tournament to be just as competitive, if not more competitive, than the World Championships," he says. "There will be no easy games.”
But there’s more to the U.S. Open than just a tournament. More like a, “celebration of our mission,” says USA Ultimate CEO Tom Crawford, “to bring the entire community together.” During the days that follow, coaches, players and other community stakeholders in America’s fastest-growing sport will enjoy a convention at the Antlers Hilton, and host demos of the game for kids, who can then try it out for themselves.
USA Ultimate clearly hopes that some locals will wind up as hooked as Crawford says he was when he first saw the sport played at a high level.
But what story would be complete without tales of the fire mucking up everybody's July 4th plans?
The group had coordinated its first-day festivities to co-inside with the Air Force Academy's Independence Day celebration at Falcon Stadium, including a demo of the sport's best-of-the-best, doing what they do. This, sadly, is one more victim of the Waldo Canyon Fire. The tournament itself was also quickly moved from the Air Force Academy athletic fields to Fountain Valley School in the southeast part of town.
Organizers of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb decided Tuesday afternoon to run the 90th Race to the Clouds on Sunday, Aug. 12.
The 12.42-mile event had been initially set for this Sunday, July 8, but was postponed due to the Waldo Canyon Fire.
Hill Climb officials considered several alternatives for rescheduling the race, and the PPIHC board went with Aug. 12, with the race-week activities starting on Tuesday, Aug. 7.
Almost all of the drivers and teams have indicated to the Hill Climb that they will be here for that week.
Here's the full release, just sent out by PPIHC officials:
90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb Set To Go On Sunday, August 12, After Postponement Connected To Waldo Canyon Fire
The venerable Pikes Peak International Hill Climb, launched in 1916 and an important part of Colorado sports history, has been re-scheduled for Sunday, August 12, barring any further threats to safety.
The legendary race, originally scheduled for July 8, was postponed last week in the midst of the epic Waldo Canyon fire that forced 32,000 people from their homes around Colorado Springs, brought the destruction of close to 350 homes, and delivered an impact within the Pikes Peak Region in historic fashion with its tragic force. It is now called the most destructive fire in the state’s history.
“With the help and support of the City of Colorado Springs, the U.S. Forest Service, Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain, and the numerous agencies dedicated to the safety of the public and the competitors, we are thrilled to be able to make this announcement,” said Tom Osborne, Chairman of the PPIHC and President and CEO of the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation after a unanimous vote of the PPIHC Board at 4:00 p.m. this afternoon. “America’s Mountain and Colorado Springs are ready to welcome everyone to the nation’s second-oldest motor sports event.”
Colorado Springs Mayor Steve Bach, who has been on point for the city’s efforts this week on behalf of the massive response and strategic action, said “The City of Colorado Springs is thrilled that the 90th running of the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb is back on track. We are committed to dedicate the needed resources to make this year’s Hill Climb the best ever. As we have said throughout this community crisis – Colorado Springs is open for business!”
Osborne and his staff have spent the last few days reaching out to the 211 drivers and racers and their crews to determine their availability for the August 12, as well as local hotel partners, the Pikes Peak International Raceway, the Downtown Development Authority and the important agencies that are required to support the event and the busy Race Week schedule of events, August 7-12.
“The response by the competitors has been tremendously positive, and the drivers and racers have been sensitive and compassionate toward our residents and their struggles and loss,” said Osborne. “We will have the majority of the registered competitors here for the event and have positive responses from Nobuhiro Tajima, Jean-Phillipe Dayraut, Romain Dumas, Clint Vahsholtz, Paul Dallenbach, Dave Carapetyan, David Donner, Greg Tracy, and Carlin Dunne, but we will lose some to scheduling conflicts. In fact, many of the drivers and racers have indicated their desire to establish a fund to benefit those agencies that have battled the horrendous fire and now support our ability to stage the race.”
Osborne indicated the this special fund will be established quickly to permit donations from the drivers and racers, their sponsors, and the public that will provide support and sincere gratitude to the men and women of the firefighting agencies who have stepped to the front when their help was most needed. Details will be revealed soon.
The legendary race’s list of champions over the years includes Mario Andretti, Bobby Unser, Al Unser, Al Rogers, Rod Millen, Parnelli Jones, Leonard Vahsholtz, Roger Mears, and Eddie Mulder.
Competitors from 15 nations are scheduled to tackle the challenging, fully-paved 12.42 mile course to the summit of the peak - Luxembourg, Russia, Australia, Switzerland, Japan, Germany, France, Great Britain, Hungary, Sweden, Scotland, Italy, Canada, the Czech Republic and the United States.
Barring conflicts, drivers and racers could be on the Peak from 25 states, including 89 from Colorado, 26 from California, 15 from Texas, even a pair from Vermont.
The revised Race Week will include Technical Inspection, practices, Media day, and the downtown Fan Fest on Friday, August 10.
Tickets previously purchased for the event that was scheduled for July 8 will be honored, but no general refunds will be made. Previous ticket purchasers will also have the option of donating their tickets to the special support fund.
Today is Go Skateboarding Day, a worldwide celebration for anyone brave (or crazy, depending on whom you ask) enough to attempt an ollie, swing a kickturn or grind some rails. Rumors were swirling around Twitter that the new vert ramp and mini-ramp currently being installed at Memorial Park Skateboard Park would be ready in time for revelers to tear it up today, but rumors are sadly often just that. This is what the vert ramp looked like yesterday afternoon:
One skater told me it would need at least another week. According to Sk8-Strong, the Colorado Springs-based nonprofit organization responsible for the $200,000 ramps that will be donated to the City of Colorado Springs upon completion, the project will wrap up in July. Construction has yet to begin on the mini-ramp.
While you wait, you can still skate around the completed 40,000-foot park today for its skating competitions, prizes, vendors, food and live music from bands Aesthetic Delirium, Inelements, Tree of Woe and Malakai until 9 p.m.
Security Service Field, where the Triple-A Colorado Springs Sky Sox play, has been a hot topic recently, with Mayor Steve Bach saying he'd love to move the team from its northeast location to downtown. It would be great for locals in the area looking for something to do after 5 p.m., and developers who own land around some of the various proposed sites would cash in like it's payday.
But there's another reason to move the outfields off the outskirts: it's, like, crazy windy out there.
For years, the main problem for the team, as well as its Major League Baseball affiliate in Denver, was the altitude and the mountain climate: It was drying out baseballs, making them imminently crushable through the thin air. The Colorado Rockies installed a humidor at Coors Field about a decade ago and saw a regression from football-level scores, and the Sky Sox finally followed suit this year.
So, all the problem are solved, right? Eh, not exactly.
"This park itself is an absolute joke," Sky Sox pitcher Carlos Torres told the Denver Post on Saturday. "Humidor or not, it's bad. More so, it has to do with wind. If the wind is blowing out, the thing is going to fly out a trillion and a half miles. I never saw pre-humidor, but even with the humidor, the ball is still flying all over the place here."
Batters see the opposite problem, reported the Gazette's Brian Gomez last week.
“The scores of the games are down, and the times of the games are down, so it must be doing something,” Sky Sox outfielder Tim Wheeler said. “It’s good for pitchers, I guess.” Recovered from an injured hand, Wheeler struck a ball Monday “that I hit good enough, a lot of parks, it would have been a homer,” he said. “But the wind was howling in, too.”
So, with the humidor issue taken care of, it seems there are still some downsides out there. This is particularly relevant, because Rockies upper management has mentioned potentially looking at other teams and Triple-A cities to partner with because grading up-and-coming players is nearly impossible considering local outside factors. That would mean the Sky Sox having another parent club to serve as Triple-A affiliate.
Of course, Sky Sox ownership has objected to any kind of move for one simple reason: the park's paid off and doing better than ever attendance-wise.
A press release today from the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge announced this year's race route, mostly touting the record-breaking elevation gains and crazy-ass mountain passes the riders will once again have to endure.
My colleague J. Adrian Stanley already posted on this earlier today, but I wanted to follow up with more details of this year's course finish in downtown Colorado Springs.
The release included a map of the Stage 5 Colorado Springs finish, which will be reminiscent of last year's prologue course, in that it winds through Garden of the Gods and into downtown. But this year's course differs by coming off Colorado Avenue and heading north on Cascade Avenue into Colorado College, before turning back down Tejon Street into a Colorado Avenue finish. Should be great for fitting a ton of spectators comfortably into downtown.
If the screen shot below doesn't cut it for you, take a look here where you can zoom in for detail: 12_COS_Route.pdf
Stage 5: Breckenridge to Colorado Springs – Friday, Aug. 24
Stage 5 will see two returning host cities, but in new roles. A rude awakening is the only way to describe the start of Stage 5 in Breckenridge. After a short flat section through downtown, the riders will have to face the daunting 10-mile climb up Hoosier Pass, which tops out at 11,500 ft. The summit is followed by a fast descent into Fairplay and with that, the high mountains are left behind and a day for the sprinters and breakaway specialists awaits. A fast rush across Colorado’s high plains end with a Sprint Line in Woodland Park where the riders may hit their fastest speeds of the week, and from there they continue downhill to Colorado Springs through the shadow of Pikes Peak. Once in Colorado Springs the route will take a technical uphill run through the Garden of the Gods, home of the 2011 Prologue. >From there the route takes a quick downhill run to downtown for the 2012 race’s only finishing circuits. With the peloton passing through the finish line three times as they blast around downtown Colorado Springs spectators will be treated to a thrilling elbow-to-elbow competition that can reach up to 35 mph.
As usual, it's snowing in Colorado and baseball is starting. Or, it's 80 degrees in Colorado and baseball is starting. Or it's one in the morning and the other by game time.
Point is, baseball is starting. The Colorado Rockies are back and, with the addition of soft-tosser Jamie Moyer, are either popularly thought to be sure bets to win the World Series, or finish fourth in the division — I forget which.
But if you've done the smart thing and bought your tickets to Opening Day early, then you don't need to sweat the fact that they're sold out. (You can still easily find a few, by the way, on Craigslist.) Feel free to sweat the opponent, the hated San Francisco Giants; think about sweating whether the schedule magnet or team towel is a better get; and maybe sweat a few other things you might not know to, um, sweat.
To that end, and with six days to go, here are four tips to further your full enjoyment of Opening Day at Coors Field:
• Come to the ballpark early, as there is expected to be a heavy demand for parking throughout downtown Denver.
• Coors Field parking lots will open at 10 a.m., with gates to the ballpark opening at noon. (Game time is 2:10 p.m.)
• Ignore the above tips and use public transportation for all your travel needs. If you're coming from the Springs, park at an early light rail station and take it all the way to Union Station. See RTD-Denver.com for more.
• The Opening Day Fest begins at 11 a.m. on 21st Street, between Blake and Market streets. Find games, activities, food and live music, which gets going around noon; the pre-game show begins at 1 p.m.
As to who you'll be watching, here's an update from Troy Renck at the Denver Post:
By delaying activating Jamie Moyer until Saturday and Drew Pomeranz until April 15th, the Rockies will open the season with an extra reliever and bench player, clearing the way for Tyler Chatwood, Eric Young Jr., and Jonathan Herrera to make the team.
For all of you bracket-busters out there, the long ride known as March Madness is coming to a close.
Tonight in New Orleans, top-seeded Kentucky and underdog Kansas will play for the NCAA men's basketball championship, tipping off at 7:23 p.m. Mountain Daylight Time on CBS (Channel 11 locally).
Obviously, that final pairing has eliminated the long shots from millions of bracket pools across America. Kansas was a No. 2 seed, but given its history of success in the NCAA Tournament, KU was a popular choice for many bracketeers who didn't want to take the easy pick of Kentucky.
So now, for the Indy's online March to the Championship contest as well as our own inside-the-office pool, the outcomes probably will depend not on who picked the right team to go all the way, but who had the most Final Four teams and/or nailed the title game finalists.
If you're among the 600-plus entrants in the March to the Championship, you should receive your final score by e-mail, then compare it to the standings that will be published in Thursday's issue of the Independent. My prediction tonight: Kentucky, 80-74.
For basketball purists, of course, the college season doesn't end tonight.
The actual grand finale, unbeaten Baylor facing Notre Dame in Denver to wrap up the Women's Final Four, very well might turn into a better game than Kentucky-Kansas. The Baylor-Notre Dame battle starts at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Pepsi Center, televised by ESPN. My pick: Baylor, 68-60.
And it's hard to remember when the city of Denver has ever looked better as a sporting venue than as home to this Women's Final Four. It actually makes you wonder if the NCAA should consider making Denver the permanent host city, or possibly part of a small rotation.