Off to the races

Cycling extravaganza begins today


Stu Sanders, mechanic for the team RusVelo Russian, checks the pressure of the team's tires in a parking lot at Fort Lewis College ahead of a practice ride Wednesday morning. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Stu Sanders, mechanic for the team RusVelo Russian, checks the pressure of the team's tires in a parking lot at Fort Lewis College ahead of a practice ride Wednesday morning.

Bike races and street parties and fireworks. Oh my!

The streets of Durango are starting to fill up with bike enthusiasts waiting for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to start Monday. Event organizers have put together a slew of events to keep everyone busy until race day.

The festivities will kick off today with Tutu to Brew, a bike parade that will start in downtown Durango and end at Ska Brewing World Headquarters. The parade will leave Buckley Park at 5:30 p.m.; tutus are encouraged.

The night before the professional bike race starts is ready to go off with a bang when the fireworks previously reserved for the Fourth of July celebration are set off.

The fireworks were canceled for the Independence Day celebration because of fire restrictions, but the city of Durango is ready to light up the sky now that the restrictions have been lifted.

The fireworks will go off at 9:15 p.m. Sunday after a downtown street party that will run from 4 to 9 p.m.

The party will include food, beer stands and live music from Andrea's Fault, Kirk James Band, Ralph Dinosaur and the High Rollers.

“We wanted to have the Pro Challenge experience,” said Mary Monroe, a member of Durango's local organizing committee.

Can't wait to see who will be competing in the seven-stage race? The teams are making their first public introduction at the Let's Get It Started gala at 5 p.m. Saturday at Fort Lewis College.

Tickets for the sit-down dinner are still available. General admission tickets are $200, and VIP tickets are $400.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.tickethorse.com/event/pro-challenge-gala-dinner/1275.

For people with an affinity for the arts, the Durango Arts Center will present “The Bicycle Men,” a musical comedy about an American tourist in France who crashes his bike.

The play sold out in London, New York, Los Angeles and Chicago before making its way to Durango. Tickets are $22 and can be purchased online at www.durangoarts.org.

While Monday's race is reserved for the pros, amateurs have plenty of other opportunities to show off their biking skills.

In its first official event, Twin Buttes will host mountain bike and endurance running races Saturday.

Featured will be two mountain bike races, a 30-kilometer trail run and a 10K trail run. Participants also can camp on private land at Twin Buttes.

About 100 camping spots are available. To register for the event, visit www.trails2000.org.

During the Pro Challenge Experience, citizen cyclists have a chance to ride one of the loops the professionals will make during Monday's race.

The 72.75-mile ride will start at 7 a.m. Sunday in downtown Durango. Riders will go up Wildcat Canyon, then return to downtown Durango before making the final trek up to Durango Mountain Resort. The ride will end with a festival at FLC.

A shorter, 45-mile ride also is offered with a finish festival at DMR.

Youngsters who want to be the next USA Pro Cycling Challenge champion can attend a community bike rodeo from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday at the FLC softball fields. Kids will learn bike safety skills, bike etiquette and proper helmet fitting.

Several professional cyclists are expected to attend the event, and kids who log their total miles ridden will receive a medal.

A dedication of the five 800-pound sculptures of cyclists at the Florida Road roundabout created for the race will be held at 3 p.m. Friday at Chapman Hill.

The downtown Start Festival, beginning at 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, will feature live music, food booths, cycling goods and products, and a kids' zone with an obstacle course. A JumboTron screen will show interviews with the racers and highlights of the 2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Water stations will be available downtown Monday to keep everyone hydrated, but people will need to bring their own containers.

The Durango Discovery Museum will have a variety of events Sunday for kids gearing up for the big race, including a human fuel lab at 2 p.m. where Jeff Vierling will explore how to fuel for endurance sports. The Amateur Challenge will take place immediately afterward along with a bike blessing at 3:30 p.m.

Local businesses and organizers collaborated to put together the Race Day Start Festival, which will begin at 7 a.m. Monday in Buckley Park. Breakfast burritos, coffee and a video display from the JumboTron of the opening stage will be available.

“A lot of local organizations are working together to pull off these events,” said Kristen Muraro, events coordinator for Ska Brewing Co.

jdahl@durangoherald.com

Rob Irwin of Fort Lewis College hangs artwork created by area school students celebrating all things bike related that will be on display on the walls of the college’s Student Union Building during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Rob Irwin of Fort Lewis College hangs artwork created by area school students celebrating all things bike related that will be on display on the walls of the college’s Student Union Building during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Members of the RusVelo Russian team prepare to go on a practice ride Wednesday morning. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Members of the RusVelo Russian team prepare to go on a practice ride Wednesday morning.

A member of the Belgian cycling team of Omega Pharma Quickstep prepares to go on a practice run Wednesday morning. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

A member of the Belgian cycling team of Omega Pharma Quickstep prepares to go on a practice run Wednesday morning.

Bernard Kocis, chief mechanic for the Belgium cycling team of Omega Pharma Quickstep, unloads race bikes from the team's truck at Fort Lewis College on Wednesday morning. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Bernard Kocis, chief mechanic for the Belgium cycling team of Omega Pharma Quickstep, unloads race bikes from the team's truck at Fort Lewis College on Wednesday morning.

Bike-related artwork created by area school students will hang on the walls of the Fort Lewis College Student Union Building during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Bike-related artwork created by area school students will hang on the walls of the Fort Lewis College Student Union Building during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

Lynn Millar hangs bike-related artwork created by area school students on the walls of the Fort Lewis College's Student Union Building. The exhibit coincides with events surrounding the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Lynn Millar hangs bike-related artwork created by area school students on the walls of the Fort Lewis College's Student Union Building. The exhibit coincides with events surrounding the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.

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