Bicycle adventure tour comes to the high country of Grand County
In the lore of cycling, one of the most difficult and demanding of all races is the Paris-Roubaix, an arduous 160-mile journey from Paris, France north to Roubaix. The course features 28 fearsome sections of cobblestoned pathways, the bane of many a professional cyclist. An awesome sporting spectacle, the “Hell of The North” is the one day outside the Tour de France that the whole world watches cycling.On Saturday, Sept.11, Wheat Ridge Cyclery presents an altogether Colorado version of this legendary event: The Colorado Crooked Roubaix. More than 250 riders have pre-registered for the chance to pedal the 90-mile route, which runs from Winter Park to Kremmling and back. The ride promises riders a truly challenging tour through some of the most majestic scenery in the state. Climbing through Church Park on the way to Kremmling and over Cottonwood Pass on the way back to Winter Park, the course will feature massive stands of aspen that will likely be autumn-tinged, mountain lakes, alpine vistas, 10,000-feet elevations and winding dirt roads.Road bikes on dirt? Yes! For a century, the grand tours of Europe have been raced on sections of dirt roads. Many of the famed passes in the Tour de France weren’t paved until well after World War II, and this year’s edition of the Giro d’Italia (Tour of Italy) featured dirt roads.Wheat Ridge Cyclery’s President, Ron Kiefel, raced Paris-Roubaix three times in addition to his seven Tour de France appearances. He has logged many thousands of miles with skinny tires on dirt roads, and is regarded as one cycling’s greatest bike handlers. “During my many years of training, our 7-Eleven team would venture onto the dirt roads above Boulder for the adventure of it. It was fun to be off the beaten path and improve our bicycle handling skills along the way.”Technical Director of the Colorado Crooked Roubaix is Paul Balaguer who brings his 22 years of experience in planning Ride the Rockies to designing a unique route that promises riders a mix of 65 percent unpaved surface and 35 percent paved county roads.”This is going to be a great ride,” said Balaguer. “There’s really something for everyone – great climbs and descents, as well as stunning scenery. I have a hunch that a lot of our riders will be seeing most of this terrain for the first time.”Colorado Crooked Roubaix sponsors include Winter Park & Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce, Specialized Bicycles and Winter Park Resort.”Winter Park and the Fraser Valley welcome this unique opportunity for cyclists to experience our valley and all of Grand County,” said Catherine Ross, executive director of the Winter Park-Fraser Valley Chamber of Commerce. “The Crooked Roubaix is a perfect challenge to showcase the various terrain in the area. Our community plans to make this an unforgettable experience for all.”Specialized, whose Roubaix model of bicycle was designed specifically for racing on the cobbles of northern France, will provide a limited number of 2011 Roubaix model bicycles for selected riders to ride in this event.
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