If you're hankering to sing the national anthem before a hometown crowd, consider warbling for those who will decide who'll do the honors during baseball season for the Sky Sox.
Here's the information, as provided by Mike Moran with the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation:
The Colorado Springs Sky Sox, in conjunction with The Colorado Springs Conservatory, will be hosting vocalist auditions for the 2013 season on Saturday, March 2nd from 12:00 PM to 4:00 PM at the main stage in Chapel Hills Mall. Soloists, duets, trios and quartets are invited to audition for The Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America. Interested parties who would like to reserve an audition time between noon and 2:00 PM should contact Wes Kaminski in the Sky Sox promotions department at (719) 597-1449 or through e-mail at email@example.com. Open auditions will be on a first-come, first-serve basis from 2:00 PM to 4:00 PM. All vocal performances must be a cappella and only traditional renditions of songs will be considered for selection.
The top performances will be determined by a judging panel consisting of Sky Sox staff, Colorado Springs Conservatory Executive Director Linda Weise and local DJs Steve B (103.9 RXP), Stormie (Cat Country 95.1 FM), D-Rock (Magic 98.9 FM) and Sarada Connors (ESPN Radio 1580 AM).
Top performers will sing live at Security Service Field during the 2013 baseball season which begins on Thursday, April 4th and runs through Monday, September 2nd. The very best performer of the day will be selected to have the honor of singing the National Anthem on Opening Day and an additional performer will earn the opportunity to sing God Bless America on July 4th. In addition, The Colorado Springs Conservatory, who is sponsoring the auditions, will be awarding each of the top ten individual singers of the day a one hour singing lesson with their esteemed organization.
“We believe the collaboration between the Colorado Springs Conservatory and the Sky Sox will be a home run for the community. It signals the beginning of our joint efforts to enhance the entertainment and leisure time opportunities available in our city,” comments Linda Weise, Founding Executive Director of the Colorado Springs Conservatory. “Not long after the Sky Sox moved to Colorado Springs in 1988, we founded The Conservatory. Today, we provide instruction in instrumental music, vocals, theater and dance to over 700 students annually, ages 4 through 19. We are also expanding our repertoire of theatrical performances, workshops, master classes, Jazz Nites and recitals for the general public,” Weise concludes.
For more information on the auditions please contact Wes Kaminski at (719) 597-1449 or through e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Interview question the first: "Have you ever chased cheese down a hill before?"
Kenny Rackers, Colorado Springs-based hopeful competitor in the May 27 Cooper's Hill Cheese Rolling and Wake in Brockworth, England: "No, I have not ... but I did a project in college about obscure sports and learned about it ... I've wanted to do it for a long time, I've been putting it off."
And thus you have an explanation for 27-year-old Rackers' new nickname, The American Cheese Racer.
For the explanation on the truly bizarre race, it's best you take a few moments to watch this video:
Now that you're up to speed (no pun intended), let's return to Rackers' fascination with dangerously bombing downhill on foreign soil in hopes of bringing glory and prestige home to the U.S. — in 200 years, no American has won.
Rackers, a former Army veteran plus West Point and arena football player turned realtor, is deadly serious about the race, so much so that he's training four days a week with former Olympic wrestler Roger Stewart.
Training, he says, involves everything from sprints and box jumps to flipping tractor tires — "lots of power and strength exercises."
He hopes to not only win the downhill race, but also a separate race back up the hill — a feat he believes no other racer has ever accomplished.
But the physical training is only one angle the hobby kayaker and climber and all-round sportsman is working.
Aside from studying film of the race's reigning champion, Rackers is planning to shoot an inspirational documentary about his training and competition with the help of a local filmmaker.
He says it will include interviews with another American who competed in 2009 and finished close to the top of the pack — "leaning back is the best strategy," he says, noting it also helps to get a good start and get away from other people who fall — as well as chats with folks like a UCCS physics professor and an Olympic trainer and doctor.
Rackers hopes he can capture what he needs (including paying travel expenses) for less than $5,000, and he's seeking donations on his website, plus searching for sponsorships.
"First and foremost I expect to win," he says, noting that he wants to "positively effect one million people" thru YouTube and other platforms with his documentary, perhaps even making ESPN's top 10 and making national news with his victory.
"The documentary is really about encouraging people to pursue their goals and dreams," he says. "To do it now, not wait for tomorrow ... to inspire people to take the first step."
Of course, not everyone's first step has to be down a very steep hill and followed quickly by many other steps at great speed in pursuance of a dairy wheel.
And some folks have been vocal, expressing their bewilderment at why Rackers would care to go all the way to England to run down a hill, he says.
"I've had a lot of negative support, people saying it's trivial and stupid. But that's really the fuel," he says, citing the lesson of not letting others "hold you down."
Track the athlete's progress on Facebook too, where since mid-January, more than 1,400 people have liked his page.
Make some room, ladies — the boys are here to stay.
They've got their first bout behind them, and now the Mountain Mad Men are starting a full year of roller derby competition. I spoke with Mad Men Bangers 'N' Smash and Seven about the sport, and what it means to be a part of the derby family.
Apparently, beneath the nicknames and the bravado, derby is about reliving those grade-school skate nights while risking bodily harm in the name of fun, family and sport. Enjoy the show, and get in on some of this "Derby Love."
Thank you to the Mountain Mad Men and Noah Bryant Photography for supporting us in this project.
This Saturday at the City Auditorium brings the first-ever Downtown Classic, a duet of men's and women's basketball games between the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, and Colorado State University-Pueblo. And while there's a variety of reasons to grab the $10 tickets (free for students and alumni; $5 for non-UCCS students with ID, seniors age 55 and older, military and children ages 7 to 18) here's five reasons our friendship is over if you don't go to at least one of — women tip-off at 5:30 p.m., men at 7:30 — the games:
1. You want to "think local"? Like the face-mashing match-ups between the hockey teams at the U.S. Air Force Academy and Colorado College, it doesn't get much more regional than this. The two teams are some 50 miles apart, and, as the Gazette reported on Tuesday, are stacked with youth from area high schools. And hey, the whole thing's sponsored by Memorial Health System ... which, I guess, is kind of like the University of Colorado sponsoring itself ...
2. The Steel & Silver Series, as the multi-sport/academic rivalry is called — "Pueblo as a steel town and Colorado Springs as a hub for the hard-rock miners of Cripple Creek and Victor," reads a newsletter — has only been going since the '05-'06 season, so there's still time to jump on the bandwagon and say you've been hating either school since Pluto was a planet. And while it's not exactly at the level of the Rocky Mountain Showdown, there's still plenty of time for the bile to breed. After all, UCCS has swept the series so far, winning the Ent Federal Credit Union Trophy every year.
3. All proceeds benefit the City Auditorium, the aging (but beautiful) relic of the '20s that serves as a reminder that not all buildings have to look like the wall-of-concrete courthouse across the street. How it wasn't destroyed in the '70s and replaced with a bank of parking meters is anybody's guess, but we still can't seem to find a way to pump money into it. Whether it's benefit concerts, or straight fundraising from its Friends, the Aud crumbles on. General estimates put the potential funds raised from the basketball game at around $16,000 so, especially with most students being home for the holidays, show up, be loud and hit 'em with cash.
4. Downtown is growing up, baby, and more events can only help, especially since we learned the USA Pro Challenge will pass us by next time around. (Bastards.) But don't believe me? Here's what our sister paper, the Colorado Springs Business Journal, has been reporting about the city's heart: “Enthusiasm about downtown is the best ... in many years.”; "Guadagnoli to add grill, walk-up window"; "Downtown advocates buy more property"; "Apartments planned for South Nevada Ave."; "Phantom Canyon expanding building, beer distribution"; and on, and on.
5. At 8-2, both women's teams are off to their best start in school history, putting them in a tie for a second in the NCAA's Division II Rocky Mountain Athletic Conference. It's only going to get better, too. "Colorado is a becoming a great Division II state, particularly in women’s hoops,” the Gazette quoted coach Corey Laster as saying in the above-linked story. “This is a great way to draw attention to our athletic department. There is a lot of talent in Colorado Springs and we are hoping to keep most of that here.” UCCS' men have faired a little worse, at 1-9, with CSU-Pueblo at 3-9.
I just spoke with local organizing committee spokesperson Chris Carmichael.
One of my questions to him was how he and the committee felt when they first heard the news (last night, ahead of today's official announcement) that Colorado Springs wasn't getting a stage in 2013.
His reply: "I was not caught off guard that we weren't selected. It's really the tradition of stage racing to move around. The fact that we had it for two years in a row demonstrated that Colorado Springs is important, and we will get the race back. I'm confident of that."
I'll share more from that interview in next week's Indy.
——- FIRST UPDATE, WEDNESDAY, 12:11 P.M. ——-
Here's how the local organizing committee has responded to the bad news, via press release:
“Although we are disappointed in not being chosen as a host city for the 2013 USA Pro Challenge, we want to congratulate those cities that will be experiencing the race. It has been a pleasure to host the race these past two years. In 2013, we look forward to being fans of the race throughout the great state of Colorado.”
And, as part of the same release, Mayor Steve Bach:
“Although we are very disappointed, we appreciate the opportunity to have had the Pro-Cycling Challenge here in Colorado Springs and hope they will be back in the future.”
——- ORIGINAL POST, WEDNESDAY, 10:16 A.M. ——-
Colorado Springs will not host a stage of the 2013 USA Pro Challenge next August.
The announcement was made earlier this morning in Aspen, where the race will begin next year.
Take a look at the cities who did make the list here.
As we noted here back in November, Colorado Springs had put in for another Stage 5 finish.
In the race's first year, the Springs hosted a prologue, and this past year, the Springs was the only city to feature a fun circuit finish.
The annual event net nearly $100 million in economic impact for the state of Colorado in 2012, according to organizers, so it's safe to say that locals impacted by it will be disappointed.
Committee member Tom Osbourne of The Sports Corp said the Springs is "highly respected by the UPC" back in November and that "we feel we are in a good position."
I left him a message this morning and will update this blog with any insights into why the Springs was overlooked for next year.
Other local committee members involved in our bid were: Chris Carmichael (Carmichael Training Systems), Chris Jenkins (Norwood), Meredith Vaughan (Vladamir Jones) and Peter Scoville (Cushman & Wakefield).
The Challenge, a week-long bicycle race through mountainous Colorado, is in its second year. Last year's Pro Cycling impact figures were similar, with organizers saying more than 1 million people watched the race, and that it had an $83.5 million impact. Much of the money both years was brought in by out-of-state travelers who came to see the race, participate in it, or help put it on. According to organizers, 53 percent of 2012 race spectators said they wouldn't have traveled to Colorado at that time if not for the race.
Colorado cities and towns compete to earn a place on the race route. Colorado Springs has won a spot both years.
Attendance Numbers Surpass 1 Million for the Second Annual USA Pro Challenge Professional Cycling Race
Race Brings an Estimated $99.6 Million in Economic Impact to the State of Colorado
Denver (Oct. 18, 2012) — The 2012 USA Pro Challenge, the toughest professional cycling race in the U.S., reached attendance numbers of more than 1 million over the course of seven days, Aug. 20-26, as fans turned out to watch the action-packed, heart-pounding racing. After traveling to 12 towns for the official stage starts and finishes, and passing through many other notable cities along the way, the estimated economic impact of the race to the State of Colorado is $99.6 million, according to a study done by IFM North America, a global sports research firm.
With a lead change nearly every day, one of the closest professional races in U.S. history came down to the final moments of the Individual Time Trial in Denver, with American Christian Vande Velde of Garmin-Sharp-Barracuda taking home the overall win. The race received unprecedented coverage highlighting the beautiful terrain of the state that totaled 31 hours on NBC and NBC Sports Network in the U.S. and was broadcast internationally to 175 countries and territories around the world.
“The crowds at the 2012 USA Pro Challenge were unlike anything I’ve ever seen outside of the big races in Europe,” said Shawn Hunter, CEO of the Pro Challenge. “Driving the course every day and seeing the enthusiasm and passion from the fans lining the streets really gave a sense of the growing support for the sport of cycling in the U.S. This race showcases Colorado and provides an incredible economic impact that will hopefully be here for years to come.”
Direct spending by traveling spectators brought a significant portion of the economic impact. Both those fans from outside the state and Coloradans traveling 50 miles or more to take in an event stage contributed $81.5 million on lodging, food, transportation and entertainment. The remaining economic impact comes in the form of team, staff, sponsor and vendor spending, employment created by the event, and the resulting tax effects of the race.
The 2012 race attracted spectators from at least 25 states across the country, with the top five after Colorado being Texas, Florida, New Mexico, Arizona and California. It also proved an exceptional following among Colorado residents, one of the significant contributing factors to the level of enthusiasm displayed by spectators along the entire 683-mile course.
“The enthusiasm we saw from the fans at this year’s USA Pro Challenge was unprecedented,” said Steve Johnson, president and CEO of USA Cycling, the national governing body for bicycle racing in the United States. “One of our main goals is to grow competitive cycling in America and the USA Pro Challenge is doing just that. From the level of competition, to the huge crowds of fans lining the streets, to the overall organization, this race is exactly what we need in professional cycling.”
A draw for Colorado travel, 53 percent of spectators claimed they would not have traveled to Colorado at this time if it were not for the race. And with that, 75.8 percent stated they were very likely or likely to return to watch the race next year.
“The USA Pro Challenge is a huge community event that just continues to grow,” said Major Mark Savage of the Colorado State Patrol. “We are out there on the street with the fans ensuring a safe and fun event, and the respectful enthusiasm that continues to be displayed is amazing.”
Additional interesting analysis points include:
• Spectators traveled in groups, with the average party consisting of three people.
• While the median household income of Colorado residents is $56,456, race spectators averaged a household income of $110,000.
• Spectators were satisfied with almost all parts of the race and the experience, with more than 86 percent saying they were very satisfied or satisfied with the race.
• More than half of spectators in attendance reported they ride a bike for fitness, while roughly 21.9 percent responded they ride a bike occasionally or not at all.
• This was an audience that appreciates the world class level of competition at the USA Pro Challenge and watches major cycling events on television, with 93.4 percent stating they watch part of the Tour de France.
• The race drew spectators for various reasons with 64 percent wanting to witness the elite level of competition, 45 percent interested in the destination cities and 46 percent wanting to experience the start/finish festivals.
• Spectators’ experiences with the USA Pro Challenge positively influenced their view of the State of Colorado, with 75 percent of out-of-state visitors stating they are more likely or much more likely to visit Colorado again based on their experience at the USA Pro Challenge.
About the research study:
The USA Pro Challenge commissioned IFM North America, a global sports research firm with more than 20 years of experience working with events around the world, to conduct a quantitative research study to measure the attendance and overall economic impact of the race.
“We conduct these types of studies on events around the world throughout the year,” said David Porthouse, vice president of IFM North America. “Working with our local partners and stakeholders, we implement best practices as we develop the data and models used to accurately and fairly evaluate the success of their events.”
IFM designed the study from the outset to address many of the contentious issues surrounding economic impact assessments. Key areas addressed included:
• Substitution effects — Since local fans will often spend similar amounts on local sports and other entertainment, IFM did not include the local fan spend in the economic impact report.
• Time shifting — Colorado is an attractive destination for travel, so IFM deliberately filtered respondents to ensure they were not capturing data from spectators already in Colorado, independent of the Pro Challenge, and also used elimination questions to remove those fans who intended to come to Colorado in the near future independent of the race
• Sample sizes — Large samples were taken at all stages, distributed across the race locations.
About the USA Pro Challenge
For seven consecutive days, the world’s top athletes raced through the majestic Colorado Rockies, reaching higher altitudes than they’ve ever had to endure as they ascended over three mountain passes, each exceeding 12,000 ft. in elevation. After attracting more than 1 million spectators in 2011, making it one of the largest cycling events in U.S. history, the USA Pro Challenge returned for a second year in 2012. Featuring a challenging, 683-mile course with more than 42,000 ft. of vertical climbing, the race highlighted the best of the best in professional cycling and some of America’s most beautiful scenery.
Though ABC News quotes his son as calling him "a gentle old man," 75-year-old Erie resident James Ernst appears anything but in a video taken by former professional cyclist Dirk Friel that's been viewed nearly 200,000 times.
In it, Ernst can be seen driving his Ford Explorer as slowly as the bikers, honking his horn like an obnoxious fool the whole time. Recording with one hand while riding with the other, Friel summed up the whole bit of stupidity when he said, "This is getting old."
The Denver Post agrees, adding:
Beyond this incident, however, is a deeper problem that exists between drivers and cyclists. Everyone who drives a motor vehicle or rides a bicycle on streets has to be part of the solution to escalating tensions.
For motorists, that means being courteous, law-abiding and mindful of the size of the vehicle they're piloting. For cyclists, it means no more blowing through stop signs or red lights and being thoughtful about sharing the road with motor vehicles.
And for both sides, a friendly wave - as opposed to a single-finger salute - would go a long way toward easing animosity in many situations. However, the incident depicted in the video on Sunday doesn't seem to be like most incidents.
The driver was eventually tracked down and ticketed, says the Post, "for misdemeanor harassment, impeding the flow of traffic and improper use of his horn."
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.