Colorado Summer Bike Races

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Cyclists around the world over look forward to Colorado’s bike-racing season. The physical challenge of our lofty altitude (ideal for bragging rights) combines with amazing alpine views for a cycler’s dream destination. With the success of the first three Pro Cycling Challenges, 2014 races promise to be more popular than ever.

Many of Colorado’s road- and mountain-bike races cater to serious competitors, but they also have shorter and less intense routes for more casual pedalers — and you’ll get fresh mountain air and a loud cheer at the finish line no matter the length of the ride. Here are a bike races to plan for:

Elephant Rock Cycling Festival: June 1, 2014
Start and Finish: Douglas County FairgroundsCastle Rock
Riders of all ages turn out for one of the first races of the season, which features road and dirt courses that run from seven to 100 miles. The real fun is the after party, with a picnic lunch, cycling expo, music and prizes. Hard-core racers are invited to camp out at the fairgrounds the night before. elephantrockride.com

Midnight Bicycle Ride: June 14, 2014
Start and Finish: Garden of the GodsColorado Springs
Costumed riders, tasty snacks, blinking bike lights and other late-night events make this 17-year tradition an exercise in pure fun. With 14- to 22-mile routes through downtown and neighboring Colorado City, which include plenty of pit stops, this race is less about gutting out a first-place finish and more about having a good time. trailsandopenspaces.org

Denver Century Ride: June 14, 2014
Start and Finish: Shops at Northfield Stapleton, Denver
This fest includes rides from five to 100 miles on courses that run throughout the metro area’s city streets, mountain trails (including options to climb up Lookout Mountain or Waterton Canyon) and greenways. There are also clinics, a kids’ bicycle parade and the chance to demo dream bikes from leading manufacturers. denvercenturyride.com

Tour de Steamboat: July 19, 2014
Start and Finish: Downtown Steamboat Springs
This non-competitive ride includes 110- and 40-mile routes through the Yampa River Valley, culminating with a barbecue dinner and live music in Steamboat’s Little Toots Park. A charity dinner and silent auction the night before benefit the Sunshine Kids Foundation. rockypeakproductions.com

Mount Evans Hill Climb: July 26, 2014
Start and Finish: Idaho Springs and Echo Lake
This popular but demanding race up the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, which climbs more than 7,000 feet in elevation in just 28 miles, has been popular with adventurous gear heads for nearly 50 years. Riders get an only-in-Colorado view of the Continental Divide from the top of 14,264-foot Mount Evans, Colorado’s 14th tallest peak. www.teamevergreen.org

Courage Classic: July 19–21, 2014
Start and Finish: Copper Mountain, (via Tennessee Pass, Minturn and Vail)
Benefiting Children’s Hospital, this three-day, 157-mile tour climbs from Leadville to Summit County and back over quiet, backcountry roads and challenging mountain passes, all with gorgeous Rocky Mountain views. There is also an optional 35-mile family ride on July 24 that starts in Breckenridge. couragetours.com

Popular Late-Summer Races

Copper Triangle: Aug. 2, 2014
Start and Finish: Copper Mountain Resort

Tour de Cure: Aug. 16, 2014
Start and Finish: Boulder County FairgroundsLongmont

USA Pro Challenge: Aug. 18–24, 2014
Route: Aspen/Snowmass, Crested Butte, Gunnison, Monarch, Colorado Springs, Woodland Park, Breckenridge, Vail, Boulder, Denver

A cyclist tackles the Mount Evans Scenic Byway, near Idaho Springs, Colorado
Cycling Colorado's Mount Evans Scenic Byway

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