Ascent Cycling Series bike races call it quits in 2016 

A kink in the chain

click to enlarge Andy Bohlmann laments difficult year. - TIM BERGSTEN
  • Tim Bergsten
  • Andy Bohlmann laments difficult year.

Andy Bohlmann balanced the Sand Creek Sports checkbook last week and then he shed a tear. After producing 110 bicycle races along Colorado's Front Range over the past 25 years, his home-based bicycle racing company has come to a skidding end ... for this year, at least.

"Yeah, I cried a little bit," Bohlmann said. "It was sad. We had new riders come out this year, and second-generation riders.

"Nathan McCrary [a Manitou Springs native] has ridden with us for years, and his daughter, Olivia, was racing with us. But the bottom line is that it's a business decision."

Bohlmann's company had produced the long-running Ascent Cycling Series mountain bike races, but after two of five scheduled events this summer, the prospects for breaking even were bleak.

He said it costs about $1,000 to $1,200 to produce one of his bike races, but the company bank account contained only $300 with another race scheduled next week.

"Our model has always been to cover two-thirds to three-fourths of our expenses with sponsorships and then pay the balance with rider entry fees," Bohlmann said. "In 2014 we were averaging about 100 riders per race. Then last year we had terrible weather and we dropped down to about 70 per race. This year the participation was in the 50s."

Bohlmann's late wife, Kathleen, started Sand Creek Sports as a bicycle racing organization and a family project with their young sons Philip and Matthew chipping in to help. Several of the area's best cyclists, including pro rider Russell Finsterwald, launched their racing careers in events produced by the Bohlmann family.

Bohlmann admits that marketing — specifically, finding sponsorships and promoting his races — has never been his strength.

"I'm a technical guy; finding money is not my deal," he says.

And while hundreds of cyclists have ridden in Sand Creek Sports races, interest has waned.

It has been a tough year. Bohlmann slipped on ice while retrieving his mail on Jan. 17, and "I shattered the shit out of my leg. I have all kinds of metal hardware holding it together."

His sons joke that there will never be a "last race" at Sand Creek Sports, and he may still find a way to scratch a line in the gravel and call his racers to the starting line.

Bohlmann recently visited Torie Giffin, who has purchased the Buffalo Lodge in Manitou Springs where she is creating a hotel for cyclists.

"I stopped in and we talked a little," he says. "We might get something going next year."


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