Exposure

Colorado’s Coolest Bike Race Is Also a Music Festival

Light
Photo: Sam Wiebe

Colorado's inaugural Velorama was a colorful combination of bike racing, music, and fan-friendly spectacle designed to usher in a new—and hopefully profitable—era for U.S. road racing. It had a lot of moving parts, including a four-day pro men's race, a two-day pro women's race, evening pro and amateur combined races, loads of spectator activities, and a main stage with some heavy hitting bands. Denver's burgeoning RiNo Art's District, which is undergoing a colorful metamorphosis, replacing rows of dreary warehouses with luxurious apartments, breweries, and art galleries, played host, with the higher stages taking place in the nearby mountains. 

Photo: Spotted near the summit of Golden Gate Canyon, this trio was led by "Giddy-up" (center). When I asked him what his favorite thing was about the race, he replied, "You know, just giddy-up. You get out here and you giddy-up. It's what it's all about. If you ain't giddyin', you ain't up. So you gotta put them together." 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Velorama was a lovefest for bikes and riders of all shapes and sizes and abilities. In a parking lot between the race course and expo area, a freestyle BMX show featuring some seriously talented riders added some rad to the festival. 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Olympic cyclist Mike Friedman, founder of Pedaling Minds, shared a lesson on energy conservation at the event, having kids pedal to feel how much effort it takes to power a lightbulb.

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Bob Gregorio, 61, is a mountain bike pioneer. Here he is with his trusty steed, La Caballona, Spanish for the Big Mare. "I had a dream my entire life to do a long bicycle adventure,” he says. “In 2007, I rode this bicycle from Durango to Heredia, Costa Rica. I designed it to endure many miles of unknown territory, using components I thought I could replace anywhere. I was able to complete the 4,500 mile journey in three and a half months." 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

We got an inside peek at team prep inside Rally Cycling's RV, where the athletes and directors laid out the plan of attack before each stage. They are the top Continental—or division three—team in North America, and recently announced they will be stepping up to Pro Continental status in 2018, which means they can compete in World Tour events like the Giro d'Italia and the Tour de France. 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Durango, Colorado, native Sepp Kuss (pronounced "koos"), 22, is really good at scaling mountains on his road bike. He's having a breakout year on Rally Cycling, mixing it up with the world's best on some of North America's baddest climbs. 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

This talented trio has a reason to smile. Rob Britton (left) recently won the yellow jersey at the excruciating Tour of Utah, and Huffman (right) won two stages at this year's Tour of California. Danny Pate, a Tour de France veteran, has been a mentor for both.

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

A family of five spotted along the course. 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Storms come and go in a flash around Colorado, especially in the mountains. At nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, this spectator rigged up some pretty respectable rain gear. Fans often ride to the summit before or after the riders come through. 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

This nurse made sure that the slogan of retired German superstar Jens Voigt won't be forgotten anytime soon. 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Rally Cycling's Rob Britton in action. One thing that never ceases to amaze me about pro road racers: saddle-to-bar height ratio. Rob's is perilously steep.  

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

The women's peloton launches off the line in Saturday night's Pro-Am criterium race. Erica Allar, the reigning U.S. Criterium Champion, was a favorite to win. She would end up taking second to Lauren Hall, but just by a hair. 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

The women's peloton rolls through some of the residue from a previous storms in Saturday's evening crit. 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

UnitedHealthcare's Hall is one of the world's best crit racers, and she beat Allar by a nose in Denver. 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Sprinters are the gladiators or pro cycling: they go faster, ride closer, and pump more adrenaline than just about anyone else. They are always pissed when they lose, even if they’re still on the podium. 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Velorama put together a seriously impressive band lineup, co-headlined by Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie. Live music represents part of a new model for American road racing, designed to help organizers turn a profit by charging spectators admission to the event. 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy asked the crowd if they had all participated in the bike race, to big cheers. "You all must have won,” he said, pointing to the audience. 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

The final day of racing for the men encompassed 10 eight-mile laps through downtown Denver. With the overall podium settled in the mountains, the peloton stayed bunched, laying in wait for an inevitable sprint finish. 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Some intrepid post-millennial cinematographers hard at work near the final finish line. "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” - Isaac Newton

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Serious weather brewed as the peloton approached the Colorado Classic's final finish after four days of stage racing. As bad as it looked, the storm, in typical Colorado fashion, came and went quickly. 

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Many riders at the Colorado Classic are coming off insane racing stints, some just three weeks off the Tour de France.

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Cannondale's Rigoberto Uran is a fan favorite and he seriously earned it in 2017—the Columbian finished second in this year's Tour de France, the best result of his decade-plus-long career.

 

Photo: Sam Wiebe

Evan Huffman greets a friend after the grimy circuit in downtown Denver. Pro road racing offers a real, up-close interaction between athletes and fans. For the racers, there's nothing better than a friendly face after four days of grueling bike rides.

 

Pinterest Icon