Be ‘Chased by the Peloton,’ a Few Hours Before Its Arrival
by Martinique Davis
Aug 16, 2012 | 1270 views | 0 0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print

TELLURIDE – For seven days, Colorado’s most scenic highways become the spectacular backdrop for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, the biggest sporting event the state has ever seen.

When the country’s preeminent road cycling race blasts into Telluride for the Stage One finish Monday, in the glare of the national and international media spotlight, we will see a surge of interest in this sport. Locally, residents and visitors get front-row seats as some of the world’s fastest riders pedal their way over Lizard Head Pass and into Telluride.

Local cycling advocates will take full advantage of this cycling-dedicated day, thanks to Scout the Ride: Telluride, a community-oriented bike event that celebrates cycling on this very cycling-centric day.

Scout the Ride: Telluride will give cyclists of all abilities the opportunity to do something not possible any other day of the year, and ride on highways essentially closed to vehicular traffic.

Ophir’s John Humphries, owner of Lizard Head Cycling Guides and Scout the Ride organizer, says that being “chased by the peloton” makes for a thrilling ride. His guide company organized a similar event for clients on a seven-day guided trip last summer, in which the group rode ahead of the UPC riders for two stages along the UPC’s 2011 route.

“This really is a special thing for a cyclist,” Humphries said of being able to ride ahead of the world’s best cyclists, on roads that are reserved for motorless travel.

“When that race comes to town, everything stops,” he said. “It’s like the Olympics coming to town.”

The ride, sponsored by Lizard Head Cycling Guides, The Bootdoctors, Delilah Organics and High Country Shipping, offers an opportunity for cyclists to welcome the Pro Peloton to Telluride, as participants complete supported rides of various lengths along part of the UPC’s Stage One (Durango to Telluride) route.

After a 10 a.m. ceremonial start through Durango, the USA Pro Cycling Challenge racers are expected to leave Durango (around 10:20 a.m.).  They’re expected in Rico (the 75 mile mark) at approximately 1 p.m., and in Telluride between 2:15-3 p.m. (times are approximate.)

Scout the Ride leaves the town of Telluride at 8 a.m. that morning, heading south on Highway 145 towards Lizard Head Pass. Cyclists can choose their challenge, opting for a 15-mile jaunt to the top of Lizard Head Pass to the much longer ride to Stoner (50 miles one way) and back to Lizard Head Pass, or turn around at Rico (28 miles one way.) Aid stations at Lizard Head Pass and at Stoner will be outfitted with energy foods, bread, nuts, fruit, water, and energy drinks.

The Lizard Head Pass Aid Station will include a reception with lunch and live music for participants, who are expected back at the top of Lizard Head Pass in time to see and cheer on the pro cyclists as they crest the UPC route’s first mountain pass.

“It’s an entire day where the people in the community are out on the road, interacting in a way they’ve never interacted before,” Humphries says of having the UPC come to town. “All along the route, it’s like a holiday,” Humphries said.

Being an end-stage host town for the UPC race will only serve to make Telluride and the region more bike-friendly, Humphries is confident. When he and a group of Lizard Head Cycling Guide clients rode along stretches of UPC route ahead of its racers last year, he reported a palpable sense of celebration and anticipation among spectators gathered along the roadsides.

“All to see men in tights!” Humphries joked, noting that as the sport has grown, throughout Colorado, it has gained acceptance, with today’s drivers increasingly conscious of sharing the road with cyclists. Thanks to events like the UPC, road cycling is now seen as more than a popular leisure activity:It’s an increasingly viable economic driver, as bike tourism gains traction across the state.

“This event in particular is a true economic driver for all of these communities, but it’s not just the event itself – biking tourism is growing too,” thanks in part to the buzz surrounding the UPC, Humphries said.

Entries to the Scout the Ride: Telluride are limited to the first 75 cyclists (at press time, a few spots remain.) The ride is open to cyclists of all abilities. The cost of the event is $25  per person or $35 per couple (or family), and includes a donation of to the San Miguel Bike Alliance, the region’s nonprofit cycling advocacy group.

For more information or to register for Scout the Ride: Telluride, visit and click on the “Road and mountain bike tours” tab; or contact Humphries at 970.728.5891 or

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