Watching the Tour de France always puts me in the mood for bike racing, and while watching the Tour, I realized that I haven’t written about the USA Pro Challenge since 2012, so I think it’s high time I wrote another post.
The inaugural USA Pro Challenge was in 2011, and since then the race has become the largest spectator event in Colorado. New additions to the this year’s race include Arapahoe Basin, Loveland Pass, Copper Mountain and a time trial in Breckenridge.
Without further ado, here are the charming towns along this year’s USA Pro Challenge Route.
Stage 1 – Steamboat Springs Circuit, August 17
Stage one is a 49 mile circuit which will be completed twice by the peloton, creating great spectator opportunities in Steamboat Springs. It’s like a holiday in Steamboat with the Pro Challenge comes to town, but it’s always sort of always like a holiday in Steamboat.
The town is well-removed from the hustle and bustle of Colorado’s Front Range and quite frankly, it’s far removed from hustle and bustle of any kind. “The good life” is what people live in Steamboat and you can live it too when you visit. The Steamboat All Arts Festival takes place during the week leading up to the Pro Challenge, and it’s the perfect time to experience the good life in the Boat.
Stage 2 – Steamboat Springs to Arapahoe Basin, August 18
Arapaho Basin is a newcomer to the Pro Challenge route. Better known as A-Basin to locals, this ski resort is a go-to for many Front Rangers who look for a challenging and yet less crowded mountain.
Usually quiet in the summer, A-Basin is gearing up for a big party when the Pro Challenge comes through. There will be a free concert, food and drink and free transportation between A-Basin and Keystone Village. Learn more here.
Stage 3 – Copper to Aspen, August 19
Copper Mountain is another newcomer to the Pro Challenge route and I really love this ski resort during the summer. There are a plethora of festivals to enjoy such as music festivals, bike races, a wine fest, a mac-n-cheese fest and more. Learn more about Copper’s busy summer schedule here.
From Copper riders climb into Leadville and then grind up and over Independence Pass into Aspen. A playground for the rich and famous, Aspen offers natural beauty as well as manmade beauty in high-end couture in shops such as Prada and Burberry.
Stage 4 – Aspen to Breckenridge, August 20
Aspen and Breckenridge are the Pro Challenge’s most visited towns, so it will get crowded. The riders face multiple climbs on their way to Breckenridge, one of my favorite Colorado towns. What haven’t I said about Breckenridge? It’s the quintessential Colorado mountain town from its streets lined with charming Victorian homes to the fun and rowdy bar scene. If you haven’t been to Breckenridge for a while, it’s time to go. Visit GoBreck.com to plan your trip.
Stage 5 – Breckenridge Time Trial, August 21
New for 2015, the Breckenridge Time Trial is 8.5 miles and will test the riders climbing skills after a big pass climbing day on the 20th.
Stage 6 – Loveland to Fort Collins, August 22
These two cities hosted last year, but the race route is different this time around.
Loveland, a city that promotes itself as “everything you love” is most well-known for its art scene that’s been around since the 1970s. Benson Sculpture Park is a testament to the community’s strong ties to sculpture, but other art mediums are thriving here too and can be seen in many of the town’s downtown art galleries.
Fort Collins, best known for beer, is also an avid bike town. It’s one of the nation’s most friendly bike cities and bike culture is strong here. Reserve a bike from the Fort Collins Bike Library for $10/day and cycle your way around this beautiful city.
Stage 7 – Golden to Denver, August 23
The final stage of the Pro Challenge is going back to its 2011 roots. I got married in Golden at Boettcher Mansion on Lookout Mountain, so of course the town holds a special place in my heart.
We travel here several times a year and our newest favorite place is the Golden Moon Speak, a speakeasy style distillery bar with a laidback, yet refined feel. Also, don’t miss the Golden Farmers’ Market; it’s the best one I’ve visited in Colorado.
What can I write about Denver that hasn’t already been written? Simply put, it is my favorite big city, partly due to the fact that it doesn’t feel like a big city. The chill atmosphere of The Mile High City is what makes it so unique and so lovable.
So there you have it – I hope this post helps you plan your attack on the USA Pro Challenge this year.