- Jan 3, 2005
Spin by one of Boulder, Colorado’s popular coffee shops around mid-morning and you’ll see the usual patrons: the bearded hipster, over-caffeinated students tapping away on laptops, young professionals meeting over a couple cortados. But here, in America’s pro cycling capital, there’s another type: cyclists, all in matching kit, down to the socks.
Posers? No, not here. That’s Taylor Phinney, Alex Howes, Kiel Reijnen, Mara Abbott, or any number of other local pros, sipping away before they head into the mountains for the day. They live here for a reason: Boulder has something special for cyclists. It has the rides and the climbing, sure. It has altitude, too. But, perhaps even more important, it has a culture conducive to the pro lifestyle.
With the help of high-end tour company Cognoscenti, the crew here at VeloNews wants to bring that lifestyle to us mortals. Except we’ll eat even better.
We’ve put together the perfect week of riding, dining, and spectating in and around Boulder — home of VeloNews. We’ll catch the USA Pro Challenge, hit the best rides in town, and dine at our favorite restaurants.
The idea is simple: Bring guests the best food, the best riding, in a town that stacks up against anything Europe can offer. Boulder’s rides, its food, and its people are something worth sharing, and we want to share them with you. We hope you’ll join us.
A full itinerary of the VeloNews/Cognoscenti tour is below. Like what you see? Join us this summer. Have questions? Don’t hesitate to ask.
Who? Fans of pro cycling, who want a solid week of riding and can handle a few hours in the saddle.
What? The best spectating experience, the best food, the best rides, and the best guides for a week in Boulder.
When? Six days (one day longer than most Cognoscenti trips) from August 21-26, 2015.
Where? Boulder, Colorado. Fly into Denver airport.
Why? Climb like you’re in the Alps, eat like a king, and watch the biggest pro bike race on American soil with reporters from America’s top cycling magazine.
Day 1: Arrival
Welcome! Time to check into the St. Julien Hotel and Spa and meet your VeloNews and Cognoscenti hosts. This is an afternoon to get bikes set up (staff will be on hand for this) and then head out for a quick, flat spin to Hygiene, Colorado to open up the legs and get a feel for the altitude.
We’ve arranged a private, craft beer dinner at the The Kitchen Upstairs, a short walk from the hotel.
Day 2: Walking the team buses
Following breakfast at the St. Julien, we’ll pile into a couple vans and head for the start of Saturday’s USA Pro Challenge stage, about 45 minutes north of Boulder in Loveland.
There’s spectating at a pro race, and then there’s doing so with reporters from the America’s top cycling magazine. Once at the start, the particular expertise of your VeloNews hosts will come in handy. We know the riders, the mechanics, the team staff, and how to navigate the chaos of a bike race so that you can get up close with your favorite riders. Want an autograph? A photo with a rider? We can make that happen.
After the pros roll out toward Estes Park and Fort Collins, we’ll hop on our own bikes and follow the race out of town to Carter Lake, where a picnic lunch catered by Cured, owned by former Tour de France rider Will Frischkorn and his wife Coral, will be waiting. After lunch we’ll spin back to Boulder to catch the stage finale on the big screen at one of Boulder’s cycling-crazed coffee shops.
Day 3: Lookout Mountain
A quick morning shuttle from Boulder to Golden will bring us to the final stage of the Pro Challenge. We’ll ride through the world-famous Red Rocks concert venue and then up Lookout Mountain, which will be tackled by the pros a few hours later.
Teams without a sprinter are always keen to rid themselves of the fast men over Lookout — watch for Cannondale-Garmin to put the hammer down, just as they did last year. We’ll be waiting for them on the climb’s upper slopes in a private tent with television (so we can watch the lead-up to the climb, and the final circuits in Denver), craft beer, and a catered lunch from Cured.
With so much great food within walking distance of the St. Julien, guests will have a chance this evening to explore Boulder’s restaurants that are peppered around the downtown area.
Day 4: Let the big rides begin
You’ve had a few days to acclimate and spectate; now it’s time to ride. The Pro Challenge is over, but the pros are still in town. A few will join us for rides and meals over the next few days.
It’s a big ride today. We’ll head up over the switchbacks of Flagstaff mountain, where the Pro Challenge finished in 2012, past Gross Reservoir, and onto some of Colorado’s favorite dirt toward the mountain town of Nederland, where lunch will be waiting for us at Salto, one of multi-time national champion Alison Powers’ favorite spots for coffee and snacks. By the time we get there we’ll have already climbed over 5,000 feet. Good thing it’s downhill all the way home.
When we get back to Boulder, you’ll have the option of taking a tour of custom frame builder Mosaic Cycles or getting a massage at the St. Julien — or both.
A farm dinner with Master Sommelier Brett Zimmerman, with incredible mountain views, will top off the day.
Day 5: Touch 10,000 feet
The climb up Fourmile Canyon is the most pleasant in Boulder. The climb of Logan Mill will kick your butt. We’ll be riding both, and you’ll be smiling the whole time.
Day five’s ride will bring riders to nearly 10,000 feet, to Peak to Peak Highway (which isn’t really a ‘highway’) and Brainard Lake. If the altitude or climbing are getting to you, a mellower version of the ride will be on offer.
Regardless of the loop you choose, you’ll be starving come dinner time. Good news: We’re eating at James Beard award-winning restaurant Frasca Food and Wine, owned by former pro cyclist Bobby Stuckey, along with a few special Pro Challenge guests.
The legs will be tired, as they should be, but we have one more ride on tap: a spin up Fourmile Canyon (the most pleasant climb in Boulder, remember?) to the Gold Hill Inn for a pancake breakfast. The tiny town of Gold Hill, a former mining community, is a slice of the old West — despite it’s location, just a dozen miles away from Boulder.
After breakfast, we’ll roll back to the St. Julien, pack up, and say our goodbyes.
Sound like your kind of week? Sign up here.
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