2015 USA Pro Challenge – Breckenridge!

The weight has been lifted, but the feeling is bittersweet as the excitement and chatter around the 2015 USA Pro Challenge – Breckenridge Stages – winds down and we all move into the next waves of life.  The kids are back at school,  hints of yellow are in the Aspen trees, and the air is crisp and moist in the mornings. 

Breckenridge took on a lot this year with a Stage 4 Finish and Stage 5 Time Trial which kicked off the inaugural USA Pro Challenge Women’s Race.  For 5 years, Breckenridge has been part of America’s favorite race and our piece of the puzzle seems to grow each year.  

“Breckenridge has come of age” was a consistent theme during the last few days, and I believe it to be true.  The new Breckenridge Arts District has a funky, approachable flavor with exhibits, music and workshops that make you smile, wiggle and appreciate the talent and creativity of the artists.  It’s inspiring, but not pretentious or snooty.  


For 48 hours, there was the fusion of bike racing and art.  The Breckenridge International Festival of Art commingled quite nicely with the USA Pro Challenge – Breckenridge Stages.  Did you check out the ARTCRANK exhibit…creative bike art that didn’t cost you as much as your bike? The AUSTIN BIKE ZOO inspired my “burning man” dreams of riding large-winged cycles around town.  Big crowds were witness to Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Bad and Los Lobos.   Ironically, Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band was a 3-piece band, but with Big SOUND.  The lively lady with red-hot boots and black poke-a-dot tights made the washboard look good!   

The Fruits

In the early 90s, Breckenridge was perceived as the workingman’s ski resort and some in the ski industry went as far to say that Breck was the red-headed stepchild of the Colorado ski resorts.  We’ve come a long way, Baby.  Like raising a child, the days are slow, but the years are fast.  I am happy to see the evolution and enjoy all the perks that go along with it.

The Stage 4 Finish fit the hype of professional bike racing. The ultra-fit racers in colorful jerseys fly by at incredible speeds after riding nearly 120 miles over 3 mountain passes.  The true flavor of Breckenridge could be found on Moonstone.  It was a party scene like no other with a cowboy spin’n tunes for all of the dancing super heroes, crazy characters, kids, adults, mountain bikers in their kits and even race security did a little groove’n as they moved spectators out of the way of oncoming racers.  There were bubbles, flags and chalk drawings, beers, cold and warm, water and grills.  The air was filled with laughter, cheers and a true sense of this little mountain community.   Oh, yeah, the uproar increased a few decibels when Rohan Dennis of BMC started his climb up Moonstone with the Peloton right behind him.  A local favorite, Taylor Shelden of Jelly Belly, was cool and solid as he weaved through the sea of fist-pumping fans and dancing characters.

Rohan Dennis – King of the Moonstone Climb

The Stage 5 Time Trial was beyond expectations.  I had never attended a Time Trial, so was not sure what to expect, but found myself excited to see local riders in the amateur races. The Pro Women racers were sleek, fast and impressive.  Kristin Armstrong took the win with an impressive 21:24:59 with Allie Dragoo right behind her with 21:24:71. Both ladies ride with Twenty16-Sho-Air. Wow!   Kristin Armstrong told one LOC member that she hadn’t raced in front of such a large crowd since the 2012 London Olympics.


The Pro Men put on a good show. Rohan Dennis of BMC Racing proved he is the best time trialist with his win at the Stage 5 individual time trials. He increased his lead to 44 seconds over BMC racing teammate Brent Bookwalter.  Spectators could get up close and personal on the Moonstone climb.  Taylor Shelden had the town in stitches when he took the lead after his ride; short-lived, but very impressive. It must have been an incredible feeling for Taylor to take the lead on a world-class stage that happens to be in his hometown.  Awesome!

It would be a calamity not to spotlight the USA Pro Challenge Breckenridge ancillary events.  My favorites: The Breckenridge Grand Vacations, aka BGV Strider Challenge, has got to be the cutest race of the season. The 2, 3, 4 and 5-years-old kick off the start line with all sorts of emotions playing on their faces, vigor and determination to reluctance and panic.  Ultimately, the parents are steps away to help and the kids triumph with hugs and smiles.

The Funkadelic Pond Crossing is a delightful spectacle.  Riders dress up in their best disco outfits, wigs included, and attempt to ride across the Dredge Pond on a narrow wood plank bolted to floating inner tubes.  Kids rule this crowd-favorite event, but the adults put up a good fight and the entertainment is endless. 

The future of the USA Pro Challenge seems to be up in the air.  Even the Pro Challenge CEO Shawn Hunter says he isn’t sure if the race will return next year.  The 2015 race marked the end of a 5-year race commitment by the father-and-son team of Richard and Rick Shaden, owners of Smashburger, Quiznos and Live Basil Foods.  The goal is to keep the race going and it would be a shame to see it end.

For Breckenridge citizens, business owners and patrons, the single day impacts are intense, but the overall, year-around economic and genuine sparkle of Breckenridge pride by association is profound.  Congratulations to all the racers and BIG THANKS to the Breckenridge Local Organizing Committee, The Town of Breckenridge, The Breckenridge Tourism Office, all of the local business sponsors, and, most importantly, the amazing volunteers and enthusiastic spectators!


VIDEO: A peek into the Moonstone Scene!

Crowd-favorite! The Funkadelic Pond Crossing!