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 former USA Pro Challenge and the anticipation of the new Colorado Classic these 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 3, 2018
Start and Finish: Douglas County Fairgrounds, Castle 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.
Midnight Starlight Spectacular Bicycle Ride: June TBA, 2018
Start and Finish: Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs
Costumed riders, tasty snacks, blinking bike lights and other late-night events make this 24-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.
Denver Century Ride: June 16, 2018
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.
Mount Evans Hill Climb: July TBA, 2018
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 more than 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.
Tour de Steamboat: July 21, 2018
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. The scenic ride benefits local charities, including PARTNERS Mentoring Youth in Routt County and Reaching Everyone Preventing Suicide.
Courage Classic: July 21-22, 2018
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 24-mile family ride.
Popular Late-Summer Races
Colorado Classic, Aug. TBA, 2018
Stage hosts: Colorado Springs, Breckenridge, Denver
Feel the speed, cheer with the pros. One hundred-plus cyclists, three cities, one giant party. A 2.HC four-stage race sanctioned by UCI with some of the best racers in the world competing right here in Colorado.