As the USA Pro Cycling Challenge proved, Coloradans love their bicycling races. Governor John Hickenlooper hopes to tap into that passion and bring attention to an often neglected part of the state with "Pedal the Plains," which his office announced today. The three-day race will take place September 21-23 over a yet-to-be-determined course on Colorado's eastern plains.
"'Pedal The Plains' will be a one-of-a-kind cycling event celebrating the agricultural roots and frontier heritage of the Colorado eastern plains," Hickenlooper said in a press release. "And, maybe most importantly, this event is a ride designed for riders of all speeds and sizes."
The event is being billed as a "Race for the rest of us," as it will likely attract more recreational than competitive riders. Hickenlooper is creating the race in coordination with the Denver Post, which has organized Ride the Rockies for the past 26 years, and Viaero Wireless, which serves many rural communities and will be the presenting sponsor.
Riders will travel between thirty and 100 miles a day, visit several towns a day and stay in a new host community each night. They can also take a more leisurely approach and participate in a family friendly, one-day loop ride. But that doesn't mean there will be nothing of interest for more serious cyclists, as some form of competition might be incorporated.
"A lot of this is still in formulation, but there has been discussion about not wanting the more competitive riders to be turned off by this ride," says Al White, director of the Colorado Tourism Office. "It's largely a family-oriented type of event, but that's not intended to preclude the more serious riders."
White says Hickenlooper was inspired to organize this race when he was campaigning for the governor's office on the eastern plains.
"We think it's a great opportunity to highlight a portion of our state that is too often overlooked," White says.
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White thinks that getting 1,000 cyclists to participate in the first year would be a great success. Route details and registration fees will be announced in the spring on the race's web site. Race organizers would surely settle for a fraction of the $83 million economic impact the Pro Cycling Challenge claimed, but plains communities will hope to attract cyclists with entertainment and local meals between riding.
"There are all kinds of cool things out there that I think, too often, front range and metro-area people get a little metro-centric and don't consider going east for entertainment and enjoyment," White says. "So we're hoping this becomes an educational opportunity for people who participate to better understand life on the plains and what it has to offer."
More from our Sports archive: "USA Pro Cycling Challenge: 5 things to know about the race."