Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When the Pro Cyclists Ride Colorado...

Who hasn't had dreams or aspirations of being a professional athlete? Certainly not me, and I'm dating myself back to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics where I wished I could be like Summer Sanders or Janet Evans. I know, however, that I'll never be even remotely good enough to be at their caliber among the swimming set or the next Lindsey Vonn or Chrissie Wellington (do any of us stand a chance at that?). But that's never to say that I can't train like them...or try.

Riding along that theme comes my latest training mission: surviving the cycling routes of the pros. Well, not exactly. I'm certifiably scared of the Tour de France's cobblestones, descents and gut-wrenching climbs--and that's from watching it on TV. I'll second guess myself on pretty much any terrain involving me and a bike--oh and I'll do the worst thing possible and ride the brake. But yet, I'm still fascinated by the major events among world class cycling that are cropping up on American soil.

First it was the Amgen Tour of California, thanks in part to Vision Quest promoting its camp with a ride on the course and a time trial that you could race from the trainers in Chicago. And now it's the resurrection of an old Colorado mainstay that's being taken to a new level with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Call it my love and familiarity of Colorado, or blame it on summer when I try to spend significantly more time on my bike, but I'm literally drooling over this event which runs from August 22 to 28 and covers roughly 600 miles of Colorado terrain. It also doesn't help that the top three finishers at last month's Tour de France, Cadel Evans, Andy Schleck and Frank Schleck, recently joined the field. Makes it a little more exciting, don't you think?

But here's my favorite part. Just like plenty of other professional races, you can sample the race stages before the big dogs come to town. Need suggestions for how to do it? That's exactly what I took a look at for when I hunted down some recommended road rides that would burn plenty of calories, get you riding portions that the pros will cover, and offer challenges that will even get chills running up some pros' backs. Maybe not Lance Armstrong since he rides Colorado all the time, but he's retired so he doesn't count. As for me, check out stage 5 and then Rabbit Ears Pass or stage 3's time trial at Vail Pass. Shivering yet?

Photo grabbed from

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