Route

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Our Stage 6 Route 


Our route incorporates a number of  Northern Colorado cyclists’ favorite rides, treasured for their scenic beauty and dynamic cycling challenges.

On Saturday, August 24, Stage 6 of the USA Pro Challenge departs from The Ranch Events Complex in Loveland, takes a sprint lap through scenic Windsor, cuts across Loveland and up the Big Thompson Canyon and Devil’s Gulch en route to Estes Park.  From Estes Park, the route descends the canyon before confronting a challenging final 20 miles of short, steep power climbs and fast descents in the foothills and along Horsetooth Reservoir, before finishing in downtown Fort Collins.

The Start

Perched on high ground near Interstate 25 and Highway 34 in Loveland, The Ranch promises to be a great venue for our starting festival.  The Ranch enjoys staggering views in all direction, from the rolling plains of Windsor to the east, Fort Collins and the northern foothills to the north, and a panorama of the front range to the west.  Long’s Peak. the world famous 14,000 foot peak in Rocky Mountain National Park, rises against the western skyline, a harbinger of the challenges that await.

From The Ranch, the route winds in a clockwise loop through the town of Windsor, passing numerous lakes and green spaces, and traveling the town’s main street en route to our first intermediate sprint on Windsor’s Main Street.  From there racers head south to the days first little “bump”, a short steep climb known to locals as the “Windsor Wall”.  This start offers excellent spectator areas.

Loveland

After looping through Windsor, our route turns south and travels past the Promenade Shops at Centerra, which offers a look at one of Loveland’s prized sculpture gardens.   We continue south and east over Interstate 25, and across Loveland via 1st street  (CR 20), which takes us past countless lakes and parks before our second sprint point, in the heart of downtown Loveland.  This Sprint will coincide with Loveland’s annual Corn Roast Festival, providing a great viewing opportunity for this intermediate battle before reaching Carter Lake Road on the west side of town.

The author on his wedding day.

Big Thompson and Estes Park

A turn to the north brings us shortly to the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon.  The lower canyon has an easy but steady grade, flanked on either side by the spectacular “Narrows”, carved by the Big Thompson River.  As the climb continues, the canyon opens up to endless rolling evergreen mountain scapes.

The town of Drake presents a fork where our route turns right towards Glen Haven on a 2-lane road that winds through dense forests and mountain valleys.  It is here that we begin to glimpse the high peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park to the west.

After passing through the quaint and scenic town of Glen Haven, the route confronts its first and most formidable climb, the ominous “Devil’s Gulch”.    After a daunting mile of gradually steepening road, racers are confronted with a series of four tight, grueling switchbacks en route to a summit revealing a breathtaking view of the Estes Valley, the city of Estes Park, and Long’s Peak looming large over all.  Expect a fierce battle here for the weeks final KOM points.

Next the route passes the historic Stanley Hotel and charges into Estes Park and our final sprint in the heart of town.  Another climb takes us from Estes to the Historic Mary’s Lake and a breathtaking view of Rocky Mountain National Park.   We depart Estes via Highway 34, creating a counter-clockwise circuit that loops back to Drake and descends the same lower canyon section we climbed earlier.

The Foothills, Horsetooth and Fort Collins

At the mouth of the canyon we turn north and pass Green Ridge Glade Reservoir and the aptly named Eden Valley, a foothills valley fit for postcards, with spectacular views in all directions.

The climb to the reservoir is the first of a series of short sharp roadblocks that define the final third of the route.  The most formidable is a short grind from the town of Masonville to the entrance of Horsetooth Mountain Park, named for its central feature, a rock formation visible from all of Northern Colorado.

From the mountain park,  the next several miles are a rollercoaster of curves, power climbs and blistering descents, with great views of the reservoir, the city of Fort Collins, and the dramatic foothills.  Three dams punctuate the route, which rips down into the small town of Bellvue before its final short power climb up Bingham Hill.  Bingham marks the brave rouleur’s last opportunity to attack before we drop into Fort Collins for a final wind-up to a flat and fast finish in downtown.

From the bottom of the east descent of Bingham Hill, We head south on Overland Traill Road, Fort Collins westernmost through street, with the foothills looming large.  Turning left onto Mulberry, we pass the historic downtown neighborhood and our beloved City Park en route to the finish line, which is located in the heart of the downtown business district, at College and Mountain Avenue.

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