• Many Road Closures due to Cold Springs Fire

    According to the Boulder Office of Emergency Management, many roads have been closed due to the strengthening Cold Springs Fire, that as of Sunday morning remains uncontained and growing.

    The list so far includes:
    Hurricane Hill – between Hwy 119 and Ridge Rd.
    St. Anton Summer Access Road – between Hwy 119 and Ridge Rd
    Sugarloaf Rd – between Switzerland Trail and Peak to Peak Hwy
    Peak to Peak Hwy between Sugarloaf and Ridge Road
    Silver Point to Peak to Peak Highway
    Cold Springs Road – between Hwy 119 and Ridge Rd.
    Ridge Road
    Conifer Road
    Thunder Ridge South Road
    Cougar Road
    Shady Hollow Road
    Switzerland Park Upham Gulch

    Please see the Boulder Office of Emergency Management site for full information on donations, evacuation areas, and resources.

  • Tour de France Preview: Fairly unprepared Midwestern boys ride the course

    On the eve of this year’s Tour, a look back at a bucket list trip over the high cols of the French Alps

    By Scott Downes

    This year marks the decade anniversary of that time I threw up a little bit in my mouth while riding up Alpe d’Huez. It was barely a third of the way up the climb, on our third day of hard riding. I’d lost the wheel of my buddy Brian, was feeling bonky, and pedaling squares. I panicked a little, and too-aggressively downed a gel, which inadvertently kicked in a gag reflex. Suddenly it was recycled strawberry banana flavored gunk in my mouth, while huffing it up a 10% grade.

    Three days earlier, my longtime friend Brian and I had set off on the bike trip of a lifetime – a long loop through the French Alps, riding some of the most famous climbs in the Tour de France.

    It was one of those ideas that escalated quickly. We were already going to our college buddy’s wedding in Italy. We like to ride bikes. We were lifelong Tour fans. So why don’t we stop in the Alps and do some riding. We both grew up in the Midwest, and had never really done any proper climbing. So it was also the kind of thing where we didn’t know if we could do it or not, but we had to find out.

    At a café in Le Bourg d’Oisans the night before our departure, we chatted with a group of Irish guys who had just completed the route we were ride. We asked a guy named Rogan how it went, and he simply said, “It’s a motherf****r.”

    “We’re completely in over our heads,” Brian said the next morning, heading northeast out of town, towards Col de la Croix de Fer, as the reality of a twenty mile ascent started to sink into our minds and our legs. Passing through the tiny hamlet of Le Rivier, the road snaked along a difficult climb up to and past Lac de Grand Maison.

    We rode past gorgeous green mountain pastures, rocky mountain faces, and glacial lakes that were not a color you see in the American Midwest.

    At the summit, we took in the views and patted ourselves on the back for even making it this far. Neither of us could believe that this is something we were actually doing.

    The descent off of Col de la Croix de Fer was a delicate balance between gawking at the views, and not crashing. I was riding fairly cautiously down the single lane road with hairpin turns, while Brian was mostly ignoring his brakes.

    “You’re crazy,” I yelled.
    “Crazy? What are you talking about crazy? I’m not crazy,” he replied.

    He crashed on the next turn.

    He had locked up the rear wheel, wobbled, and went down hard on his right side. There was that sickening thud you hear when a body comes to a sudden halt against something hard and immovable. Like a road. He was up almost instantly though, and, aside from a banged up thump and a large scrape on his hip, was mostly uninjured.

    “Only 6 kilometers,” I mumbled with mistaken optimism, as we started our next climb up Col du Mollard several miles later. It didn’t seem that far, but it was a punishing climb that steepened the farther up we went. By the summit, I was out of water and felt completely cashed.

    The descent off of Col du Mollard gave us more jaw-dropping views - steep roads, switchbacks, and tree-lined roads that finally opened up to reveal a breathtaking valley. We dropped down for several more miles into Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne. The town was nice, and we passed quaint little courtyards and old French guys playing bocce ball in the park.

    We should’ve stopped for lunch.

    After winding through the valley along the A43 motorway toward Saint-Michel-de-Maurienne, Col du Telegraphe was all that stood in our way between all the food and sleep.

    Telegraphe was roughly seven miles uphill, and I felt like I was crawling the whole time. My legs were gone, each pedal stroke was agony, and I was as close to totally cracking as I’d been all day. The road seemed interminable, and every kilometer marker was just a soul-crushing reminder that we had a long way to go.

    As I was weaving across the road, battling fatigue, and trying to pretend I wasn’t bonking, a small van drove by and a young girl stuck her head out the window to holler something in French I didn’t understand. She could have been cursing at me or telling me to get off the road, but I’d like to think it was a little encouragement from a stranger. Or I was hallucinating the whole thing.

    I gathered myself as much as I could and tried to fight off some dizziness and nausea. Finally the end was near, and adrenaline helped me catch up to Brian’s wheel, as we finished the third and final ascent of the day.

    Three fast and freezing miles down the road in the Valloire, we finally got to our hotel. I was broken, hungry, thirsty, cold, and had some serious saddle sores. We both had the shakes, and Brian’s hip was still bleeding.

    We’d ridden some 70 miles, and climbed almost 10,000 feet, which at that point in our lives was the longest, toughest ride we’d ever done.

    “I’m not right in all kinds of ways,” Brian said before we both virtually ate our weight in pasta and pizza.

    The next day up Col du Galibier would be no easier. It was a cold, gray day, and the twelve or so miles of climbing we had ahead started literally out the front door.

    Heading south on D902, we were both in awe of the views, up through the valley, along more mountain pastures and gunmetal peaks. Near Plan-Lachat, a dirt path went off to the left, but our road seemed to disappear altogether. Realizing it went straight up, I looked to our right, seeing super steep switchbacks rising.

    “Is that where we go?” I asked.
    “Don’t look at it,” Brian urged, like he was parent telling a kid not to look directly into the sun.

    After Plan-Lachat, the climb up Col du Galibier was brutal—steep, unending, and with a headwind bearing down on us. Local cyclists dotted the road beneath us, on our tail. Car-bound tourists passed by in comfort. I weirdly felt stronger as we went up, though Brian realized halfway towards the summit that he’d been riding with a brake rub all morning.

    Two French guys on motorcycles offered us congratulations at the summit. Everything looked like a miniature version of itself in the valley floor below. Snow-capped peaks marked the horizon in most every direction. We were all smiles and high-fives and still couldn’t believe we were there.

    The descent back down towards Le Bourg d’Oisans was a long, moderate grade, and a thrilling ride. It was also freezing. We stopped at gift shop for warmth and additional, but insufficient, layers. And we dodged lories and potholes in the many pitch-black tunnels on the long stretch of road back to town.

    We came back into Bourg d’Oisans feeling victorious. We caught a nap and found a grocery store to get fluids. And chips. We deserved an unhealthy reward and ended up devouring a big can of Pringles before dinner.

    “Do you think there’s anybody who could beat us in a chip-eating contest?” I asked Brian.
    “Not in this country,” he said.

    On our third and final day, we rode Alpe d’Huez. It was like biking up a museum, except you can’t breathe and your legs are burning like a thousand suns. Most cycling fans know the stats well: 13.8 kilometers, 21 switchbacks, Dutch corner, the signs honoring Tour stage winners of the past. There’s not much more to say. It’s a hard climb.

    We set out early in the morning, before the rest of the town was awake. It was cool and damp, and felt like early spring even though it was still squarely summer. Clouds socked in the valley, hanging low over the village. Brian and I pedaled toward the wall of rock wordlessly.

    We passed under the banner, “Le Alpe d’Huez, Departe 13.8 km,” we set our clocks and stomped on the pedals, as the road tilted upward to 10, then 11 percent grades in the first few kilometers.

    As we passed the first turn, Brian belted out, “Twenty-one! Only twenty to go.” 
“Don’t f**king do that!” I screamed, not wanting to think about how far we had left.
    “Ok,” he said. And that was the last time we spoke for the rest of the climb.

    A few switchbacks later, he slowly came around me, and inched away gradually. I yo-yoed behind him, periodically trying to get back on his wheel. But I was running on vapors.

    Around switchback 14, I downed some energy gel and that was when I threw up a little in my mouth. I do not recommend it.

    We rode into the clouds at switchback 12. Having started so early, we were the only bikes on the road. It was the type of moment at a point on a climb that is utterly humbling. A few hundred meters later, when we came through the clouds and saw clear blue skies, I thought, this is where God rides bikes.

    The closer we got to the top, the more spaced out the switchbacks became, and the worse my legs felt. I kept grinding it out, trying to catch Brian, but I couldn’t get there. My legs were on fire, and I was starting to come undone.

    This wasn’t a race, but I couldn’t stomach cracking at this point. We’d ridden an incredible route together and that’s how I wanted to finish.

    A short stretch of false flat gave me a little boost, and I dug in for a big effort, catching Brian as we swept through a roundabout and up the wide boulevard toward the sign “Tour de France Arrivee.”

    Each year when Tour time comes around, I think about that trip. If the race route goes over Croix de la Fer, or tops Galibier, or finishes up Alpe d’Huez, I can’t help but feel some sense of immense appreciation that we got to ride there. Seeing the best bike racers in the world climb the roads that we once suffered up ourselves is an odd sensation, and one that seems unique to cycling. It was not the most epic journey, or the toughest route, or anything like that. But it was the bike trip of a lifetime, and I still can’t believe we got to do it.

    A decade ago, we found ourselves at the base of three days climbing in the middle of the French Alps. We didn’t know if we could do it. But we had to find out. And we did.

  • 303Radio: Haute Route Rockies

    This series of European-style stage races is coming to the U.S., and the Colorado Rockies will host the first event in 2017.

    This past week a select group of a dozen pre-rode the stages to work out logistics like feed zones, traffic, and the best "breath-taking" routes.

    Featured here on 303Radio, Road Bike Action Magazine Editor Neil Shirley checks in after day 3 of the Rocky Mountain Haute Route test ride. The first stage is in Boulder, and the entire route will be announced next month.

    This sounds like an amazing event so be sure to check this out! The ride will be capped at around 500 - Register HERE.

    Also, check out the FACEBOOK PAGE.

  • National bike world calls Boulder County home

    Seth Dykema works on a cycling component at the gluing station at Stages Cycling in Boulder. (Cliff Grassmick)

    From Times-Call

    Boulder's long and storied history as a hub of cycling activity is entering a new chapter, as a center for industry advocacy.

    The recent hiring of Lafayette's Todd Grant as executive director of the National Bicycle Dealers Association (NBDA) means that all five of the top industry organizations — NBDA, People for Bikes, International Mountain Bike Association, Outdoor Industries Women's Coalition and Bicycle Product Suppliers Association — have a leadership presence in Boulder County.

    "More than ever, today Boulder is widely viewed as the hub" of cycling, said Tim Blumenthal, president of People For Bikes, the world's largest bicycling nonprofit.

    Blumenthal moved People for Bikes, then called Bikes Belong, from Boston to Boulder in 2004. It was a repeat performance: He also moved the IMBA to Boulder in 1993 when he took over leadership.

    The OIWC and BPSA are also here. The NBDA's president and offices are still in California for the time being, though the current lease is up in 2017. There are no formal plans to move the 70-year-old organization to Boulder County, but there's also no reason it couldn't happen.

    "An association that is national or international can very well be headquartered anywhere," said Fred Clements, NBDA's vice-president. "I think a lot of people have picked Boulder because it's beautiful, it's very bicycle friendly, it's near an airport. There's a number of private companies there."

    Another factor? It's just plain pleasant to ride a bike here, said Ray Keener, executive director of BPSA and president of the board of Community Cycles.

    "It's really the draw of the culture and how easy it is to have a bike-centered life," Keener said.

    Boulder was one of first places to be a good place to ride a bike in town, said Blumenthal, helped along by the free-wheeling college students and alternative-minded residents.

    By the mid-'90s, Boulder's reputation as bike central was firmly established by the Coors Classic bike race (originally the Red Zinger) and the hordes of pro cyclists who lived and trained here.

    Then, in 1993, industry followed. . .

    Read the full story HERE.

  • Haute Route Is Coming: A Preview Ride

    All photos: Courtesy of Mavic Haute Route Rockies

    By Scott Downes

    As the clock ticked past an hour straight of climbing above Boulder on Saturday morning, I chuckled about the fact that, in more than a decade of living and biking in Colorado, I had somehow never ridden the iconic climb I was suffering on now. Or the fast, flowing canyon descent that followed. Or the gravel rollers that came after that, dry and scorching in the midday sun.

    Shame on me.

    It was a small taste of what is to come over a seven-day test ride for the Mavic Haute Route Rockies.

    On Saturday, 303Cycling was invited to join a small contingent of other cycling media and some of the who’s who of Colorado cycling for Stage 1 of the preview ride, in preparation for the recently announced Haute Route Rockies that will come to Colorado in June 2017. And with it, our very own backyard will join the Alps, Pyrenees, and Dolomites in this prestigious series of some of the world’s greatest cycling routes.

    “This is as high as I’ve ever been on a bike,” said a woman from London, barely halfway up the first ascent. It would only get higher from there.

    Stage 1 of the test ride tallied some 7,000 feet of climbing. Sunday’s stage offered almost twice that. And there are five days left.

    The rest of the route, which organizers are keeping close to the vest until it’s finalized for 2017, will take the long, high roads further up and around the Rockies, ultimately finishing in Colorado Springs. Seven stages, 550 miles, and more than 50,000 feet of climbing.

    What is familiar terrain for local Colorado cyclists who tackle it on lunch rides and weekend outings will be a lung- and leg-busting experience for those new to these roads. And for locals, Haute Route Rockies will offer a unique way to experience some home turf, with pro-level support.

    Haute Route events are aimed at providing amateur cyclists with a high-end experience and a level of support to match, with iconic, challenging routes in the cyclosportive tradition.

    On Saturday, our contingent of a few dozen cyclists was backed by full mechanical support from Mavic, medical teams, and well-stocked aid stations. There were even rumored to be some magical, Nutella-based Skratch Labs cookies being handed out, though I never was able to track down the mystery musette bag with the remaining goodies.

    When Haute Route Rockies arrives in 2017, participants - limited to 600 riders - will enjoy this type of support and more, with timed sections of the course, race villages at each finish, daily massages, point-to-point luggage transfers, and film crews to document the adventure.

    On Saturday, the ride finished with some welcome shade in the park next to the Boulder Farmer’s Market, where burrito bowls and tacos and Thai iced tea welcomed riders in salt-stained kits. Smiles and stories of the day were shared amongst strangers and old friends alike, as thoughts turned to rest and recovery - an intimate preview for what’s to come this week, and more so for what’s to come next year.

  • Massive car vs. bike crash kills five in Michigan

    From VeloNews

    Five cyclists were killed and four more were injured after a group of riders was struck by a pickup truck in Michigan Tuesday evening.

    According to multiple reports, the cyclists were riding together near Kalamazoo, located in the southwestern part of Michigan, when a blue Chevrolet pickup collided with them shortly after 6:30 p.m. Five of the riders were pronounced dead at the scene. One of the injured victims is reportedly in critical condition.

    The driver, reports MLive.com, fled the scene but was caught a short time later. His truck was disabled as a result of the crash.

    None of the victims’ names have been released. The driver has only been identified as a 50-year-old man from West Michigan.

    The crash occurred near Markin Glen County Park, north of downtown Kalamazoo.

    According to the Detroit Free Press, police received several calls from citizens a half hour before the crash about a pickup truck driving erratically in the area. Kalamazoo County Prosecutor Jeff Getting said police were looking for the truck at the time of the crash, but there was not a pursuit ongoing.

    “There is very little I can or will tell you about how exactly this accident happened,” Getting said, reports the Free Press. “I can’t even begin to imagine what [the victims’ families are] going through.”

    A witness to the crash said the truck nearly hit him before it plowed into the group of riders traveling northbound on North Westnedge Avenue.

    “Someone, I don’t know who, told me watch out and I jumped back,” said Markus Eberhard, who was exiting a store at the time, according to the Free Press. “The truck went past my foot — almost hit my foot, and I looked, and before I could tell the bikers to move, it was too late. I already heard a bunch of bikes hit his front end.”

    The Kalamazoo Bicycle Club’s road safety director Paul Selden said he is aware of a group that rides on Tuesday nights.

    “What I have seen of these riders in the past and the way [they] organize the rides, they always were led in a safe manner,” Selden told MLive.

    “I think this is one of the worst, if not the worst, bicycling-motorist accidents in the county.”

    More from VeloNews

  • Beginners Guide to Bike Racing, Part III - for Parents of Juniors

    This is a 3-part series featuring Lance Panigutti of Without Limits Productions, Dana Willett of 303 Media, and Ainslie Maceachran of Gemini Coaching.

    Every spring and summer many of us have the same internal conversation with ourselves, “I’d love to get into bike racing, but I don’t know where to start.” You’re a casual bike rider, maybe did a few races in another part of the country and want to get back into the scene, or have been a mountain biker your whole life and want to try something new. So where do you start answering the list of potential questions in this mysterious racing world?

    Ainslie Maceachran: Advice for parents of juniors looking to start racing on the road

    - Keep it fun.
    Over the years I’ve seen lots of promising young talent come and go from the sport because their parents were a little TOO involved. Let your child dictate the level of involvement they’d like to have.

    - Participate in your local grass roots cycling.
    In Ft Collins, we have a local organization that puts on mid-week, fun, low key events where kids race for free. They range from a criterium to time trials to short track mtb racing. These are not only fun but they help your child to meet like minded peers. They also, quite often, help locate resources such as equipment, rides to events, coaching etc.

    - Don’t buy new.
    It IS nice to have the latest equipment but, because your child is growing rapidly and their interest could change, talk to your local bike shop about used equipment. Get them something that will do the job but you don’t have to take a 2nd mortgage on your house to afford. It should however be a quality piece of equipment. Avoid department store bikes at all turns.

    - Get involved.
    Try to volunteer where you can. Become a mentor or coach. Help organize events. Your interest in their sport will demonstrate to them that you support their efforts.

    Read more tips for Parents in The Junior Athlete Triangle, which features accomplished cyclist/coach Ann Trombley, then moves on to the athlete's mother (Marina Lepikhina), and ends with athlete Ksenia Lepikhina herself. This valuable article discusses finding a juniors-specific coach, your role as a parent, and goal-setting.

    [303 Cycling:] How do you manage the ever-present "coaching triangle" between Jr. racers, parents and yourself?
    Ann Trombley: I think it is very important to communicate with both the junior and their parents. I have open communication between parents and junior athletes through phone, email and in-person meetings. The first meeting is a good way to connect with parents and athletes. After the first meeting it really depends on the age and maturity of the athlete. I expect the athlete to be responsible for performing their scheduled rides and communicating with me. However, they are just kids! The parents need to be behind what the juniors are doing. Parents also have insights about nutrition, school and other issues the athlete may have that are important to their training and racing. Parents are a crucial part of the athletes development and I like to keep them in the loop as much as possible. For any athlete to do well it is important to have a good support system. For Juniors that is often parents and family.

    Also see:
    Beginner Bike Series Part I - Getting Started
    Beginner Bike Series Part II - For Women