Bike racing: Meh. I used to be a tifosi. Stopped paying attention about the time Roy Knickman retired. Dave Towle would un-Friend me on Facebook if he only knew how little I cared.
However: When the Biggest Race in the History of America is but a bus-ride away, whizzing around the state capitol, I’ll go check it out. And that Boulder-to-Denver bus was JAMMED, four hours before the finish.
My main mission was to glad-hand industry friends at the race expo, and see how big the crowds were and how they were managed. The race result was a foregone conclusion, more on that later.
Seemed like everyone around me on the bus was watching the race on their phones! Same thing on the 16th Street shuttle in Denver. Bizarre.
The expo was a bit of a disappointment. There were very few industry companies represented given the tens of thousands of people on hand. Said hi to Cache Mundy from Pearl, Steve Ruckhaus from Cannondale, John Crandall from Old Town.
Organizer estimates (always suspicious) put total attendance for the six stages at over one million. The largest crowds in the history of American bike racing, we were told. Just like the Grand Tours, we were told.
There was a sprinkling of the shaved-legged, team-jersey types, but most of the crowd looked like they were headed to a family picnic. More little kids than hard-cores. Hey, it’s free entertainment and a groovy scene!
Amidst all the back-slapping and self-congratulation on the race’s success, there were definitely some areas for improvement next time, to wit:
1. The Name. USA Pro Cycling Challenge is better than the original race name, something with Quizno’s in it. Let’s just call it the Tour of Colorado, and be done with it.
2. The Route. I don’t envy the organizers, having to juggle all the logistical concerns, but a stage race that’s basically over halfway through is not very dramatic.
I was shocked to read Vaughters’ quotes, after the Stage 3 Vail TT, basically saying that Vande Velde and Danielson, at 11 and 21 seconds respectively, had little chance of catching Levi. He was right, and that’s just wrong.
3. The TV Coverage. I didn’t watch it, and those who did complained loud and long. Despite Phil and Paul on the mikes.
4. The Euros. The program proclaimed: COME SEE TOUR DE FRANCE 1-2-3 FINISHERS! They were hard to spot at the back of the pack. Evans finished a respectable 7th, the Schlecks complained about the altitude. We’ll try to lower those passes for next year, guys.
OK, enough carping. My favorite thing in Denver? The Strider little kid’s races! It’s so cool that Strider has created a whole new category of two-wheeled vehicles!
Not the next Mountain Bike Boom maybe, but don’t tell that to the wave after wave of three- and four-year-olds making their way around a challenging course!
Future Tour of Colorado competitors? Future bike commuters and consumers? I’ll take it either way. And they sure won’t whine about the altitude!