Top Tips to Make your Trip to the USAPCC Terrific

Levi Leipheimer going to the stage start in Gunnison, CO

Levi Leipheimer going to the stage start in Gunnison, CO

This summer the USA Pro Challenge (USPCC) is back in its second year August 20-26th. 135 professional road cyclists from the world’s top teams will take on 683 miles on grueling routesin Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. They will revisit some familiar cities and travel to new towns.

If you’re going to follow the USA Pro Cycling Challenge to watch it in person, check out some of CleanSnipe’s tips to make your trip even more terrific.

1. Get Info via Information Technology

The Press Kit area of the USAPCC website has a host of helpful resources that you can download ahead of time or consult on the go. This year the Spectator Guide and Timetable PDF’s are new and will be your best friend for knowing where to go and staying ahead of the racers.

Download the Tour Tracker, so you can watch the race live while you are waiting for it to come to the location where you are waiting to see it in person.

2. Pack and Prepare Properly

You probably already know what to pack and what to wear: Layers, layers and more layers. “Only fools and newcomers will predict the weather in Colorado” and “If you don’t like the weather in Colorado, wait ten minutes ‘cuz it will change.” Heed those two popular sayings and bring layers, arm warmers, leg warmers, etc. in your suitcase and wherever you go. It can go from 100° F to 50° very quickly, so be prepared.

Pack like a kid, also: Bring a costume to wear while watching mountain stages. Some notable costumes from the 2011 USPCC were “Rammy,” Elvis, Tigger, Whinnie Pooh, Vikings and many more. Make sure it’s something that you can ride your bike in, so you can get to the climbs, most of which are on roads closed to cars.

Invest in some kids sidewalk chalk to show your support colorfully for your favorite racer(s) on their favorite surface: the road.

3. Be a Tifoso, to an Extent

Garmin's David Zabriskie (cooler-side after the 2011 ITT) is as nice as he is fast!

Garmin's David Zabriskie (cooler-side after the 2011 ITT) is as nice as he is fast!

Tifosi is an Italian word to describe a group of sports fans, in this case bicycle racing fans: Think of the fans that you see on the side of the road during mountain top Giro d’Italia stages.

Sometimes there’s a negative connotation to the term since sometimes a tifoso (the singular version) can get out of hand and be obnoxious or downright dangerous.

If you want to run along with the leaders as they climb up the pass, that’s fine for a bit, but don’t get too close or endanger them in any way. Think about how you feel when you’re “on the rivet,” or struggling up a climb. Would you like someone yelling and running along with you?

Know what your favorite bike racers look like (even in street clothes) and don’t be afraid to say, “hello” if you see them. Most of the pros are super friendly and willing to sign an autograph or have a quick chat, but only in the right context.

Don’t try bugging them too much before the race starts when they’re getting ready and probably nervous, but rather wait until after the race or if there’s some type of scheduled meet and greet.

Also, try approaching a pro, say, after he’s done with his individual time trial (ITT) and waiting around for his team mates to finish. And if you want an autograph, have something for him to sign, such as a jersey, and a Sharpie pen.

4. Bring your Bike for Best Views and Fun

"Rockstar" Andy Schleck signing autographs

"Rockstar" Andy Schleck signing autographs

Bring your own road bike along so that you can get the real experience of the road and get to the best viewing vantages. One stage not to miss via two wheels is Stage 3 from Gunnison to Aspen.

Leave the start at Gunnison promptly and drive to the road that takes you into Aspen via Independence Pass. It will close pretty early to cars to clear it for racers, so you will probably have to ride your bike to get to the Independence Pass climb, but it could be tight, so consider missing the start and ride up, chalk the road and relax with a snack while waiting for the racers on this decisive stage of the race. It’s mostly downhill on the way back, so that’s a bonus.

Make sure that you drink a lot, of water, that is! The elevation is extremely high pretty much everywhere (even the world-class racers were afraid of it) and that means you become dehydrated more quickly. Consider using Nuun, or other electrolyte drinks and don’t down too much beer, wine, etc.

5. Where to Stay

Think like a college student when planning where to stay the night if you want to save money.

Camping, staying at some of Colorado’s hostels, Couch Surfing or staying with people through Warm Showers (if you’re actually bike touring) are all cheap alternatives to, say, Aspen’s four-star hotels.

On the other hand, if you have the money, by all means stay at the best hotel in town. You’ll get all the amenities of such a place and perhaps be in the same hotel as some of the teams.

Since some of the starts and finishes are in smallish towns the likelihood that you’ll be on the same floor as your favorite professional team increases. Easier access for fan photos and autographs!

Photo Gallery of the 2011 USAPCC

Some of the photo credits to Jeff Kloppenburg and Mike Pimm