Steamboat Velo to host sanctioned bike race in May
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Between the Tour de Steamboat, SBT GRVL, the Colorado Classic, STARS Biking the Boat and the Steamboat Stage Race, it seems there’s a bike race in Steamboat Springs almost every weekend throughout the summer. If you thought there wasn’t possibly room to fit another cycling competition on the calendar in Bike Town USA, you’re wrong.
Steamboat Velo will be hosting the first annual Steamboat Roubaix — Hell of the High Rockies on Sunday, May 31.
The race, which takes cyclists on courses of 36, 53 or 70 miles, is capped at 500 riders. The start will take place early in the morning on the east side of town and will send out riders in staggered waves, split up by 21 categories, including junior, pro men and women, and masters.
“A lot of people in town, their first reaction will be, ‘Why another bike event?’” predicts Steamboat Velo organizer and race director Corey Piscopo. “This is such a strong bike community. There’s a lot of people in town locally that get excited about these sorts of events and a lot of interest in the state with biking in Steamboat. It’s fun to have the range of events that we do.”
The Hell of the High Rockies is different compared to other Steamboat races because it is sanctioned, adheres to stricter racing rules and appears on the USA Cycling calendar. If a cyclist wants to join in and just ride casually, that’s fine, too.
There is one major and important similarity between the Steamboat Roubaix and the other races in town: proceeds will benefit local nonprofits. Piscopo said funds will be given to LiftUp Food Bank, Routt County Humane Society and Bicycle Colorado.
“That’s a cool theme with all these bike events — they do raise a lot of money,” Piscopo said.
May 31 – Steamboat Roubaix
July 18 – Tour de Steamboat
Aug. 16 – SBT GRVL
Sept 5-7 – Steamboat Stage Race
Sept. – Biking the Boat
Compared to some of the other major events, Piscopo wants the Steamboat Roubaix to feel like a grassroots, low-profile ride that has little negative impact on downtown Steamboat. The race will begin near Howelsen Ice Arena, avoiding downtown, and end on the west side of Steamboat on Critter Court. There will be no road closures, aside from intermittent pauses in traffic to allow cyclists to finish the race safely.
Over a combination of pavement and gravel, the course takes riders south along Routt County Road 14, briefly along Colorado Highway 131 before turning north on C.R. 179. Competitors will take C.R. 33 back into town to the finish. There will be an aid station at mile 21 and mile 38.
“That’ll add a challenge there with the dirt surfaces,” he said. “Using dirt surfaces because you get away from traffic, you lessen the impact on the community. Most of these roads on a Sunday morning are going to be really quiet.”
Since the race is slated for spring, the weather and conditions are hard to predict, but Piscopo said that’s half the fun. If the dirt sections of the race are muddy, so be it. If there’s still lingering snow, that’s great, too.
“That’s how it’s being built and sold. It could be pretty gnarly out there,” Piscopo said. “When those roads get wet, they are pretty treacherous. That’s what could make this race really challenging.”
While the ride might be bumpy and mucky, Piscopo said the organizational part of the race should run smoothly.
“We’re going to copy our playbook from the past 12 years running the (Steamboat Stage Race),” Piscopo said. “It should go really smooth. We’ll keep it low key, where it doesn’t mess up other people’s schedules. It also comes early in the season, which is nice. I think it’ll be the first bike event in town.”
Registration is open and will remain open until the day of the race. People can also sign up to volunteer, all through the Steamboat Velo website.
To reach Shelby Reardon, call 970-871-4253, email sreardon@SteamboatPilot.com or follow her on Twitter @ByShelbyReardon.
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