2011 USA Pro Cycling Challenge
Steamboat Springs Travelers expecting to use U.S. Highway 40 and Colorado Highway 9 between here and Silverthorne during the fifth stage of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge will encounter road closures and can consider a couple of alternative routes or watch their timetables closely. Or, with patience, eastbound travelers can begin to travel U.S. 40 as soon as the sweep car trailing the cyclists and their support vehicles passes by around midday Saturday.
Stage 5 starts at 11:15 a.m. Saturday from Meadows Parking Lot on Pine Grove Road. After a quick loop through the neighborhoods just removed from the ski area, the riders will make a beeline out U.S. 40 for the big climb of the day on Rabbit Ears Pass.
The route through the ski base village will provide prime spectating as well as close a half-dozen roads from 11 to 11:45 a.m.
Led by a police car, riders will climb through Wildhorse Meadows to a right turn onto Mount Werner Road leading to Mount Werner Circle. After completing the circle, they’ll turn right back onto Mount Werner Road and head west briefly before another right onto Steamboat Boulevard and a left onto Central Park Drive past Yampa Valley Medical Center.
Quickly, the riders will turn right into Steamboat Barn Village and past the historic More Barn to a left onto Pine Grove Road. They’ll follow Pine Grove Road all the way to Ski Town Fields and the Mountain Fire Station, where they’ll turn onto U.S. 40 and head toward Rabbit Ears Pass.
Eastbound travel on U.S. 40 will close at 10:30 a.m. in anticipation of the start. Westbound U.S. 40 will be closed by 9 a.m. just north of Kremmling at the intersection of Colorado Highway 134.
U.S. 40 won’t completely reopen until about 1:30 p.m. Saturday, if there are no unforeseen race delays. However, Colorado State Patrol Capt. Jack Cowart and Colorado Department of Transportation spokeswoman Ashley Mohr confirmed Thursday that eastbound motorists will be able to follow behind the race as soon as it begins to climb up Rabbit Ears Pass.
“It’s a rolling closure and once every cyclist has gone by, the road will open up behind the sweep vehicle,” Mohr said. “There will be a CDOT employee in the sweep vehicle, and when they pass by (road junctions) they will call me so I can alert our travel operations center.”
That means that as soon as the racers and their motorized entourage of support cars and motorcycles pass, the public can proceed behind them with the caveat that if a support vehicle stops to help a rider with a flat tire, the sweep car will halt behind them and the public will have to wait for the situation to resolve.
“If it were me, I’d hang out in Steamboat and mingle with the locals and do some sightseeing,” Mohr said. “But it’s a matter of personal preference, and we realize some people don’t want to go over Gore Pass and some people are content to follow the peloton all afternoon.”
In pragmatic terms, following the race caravan closely over Rabbit Ears Pass might make the most sense for travelers who intend to turn north on Colorado Highway 14 to make the trip to Walden or Fort Collins, or even Laramie, Wyo., beyond.
But for people who want to avoid the bicycle race entirely, the best bet is to travel Colo. 131 to its intersection with Interstate 70 at Wolcott, Mohr said.
Heading toward Steamboat
Traveling in the other direction, the best options for travelers headed to Steamboat on Saturday morning include continuing west on Interstate 70 over Vail Pass to Wolcott and exiting north on Colo. 131 for the 90-minute drive to Steamboat. They’ll want to keep in mind that Colo. 131 intersects U.S. 40 east of town, where motorists could be held up there between 10:30 a.m. and noon while the cyclists make their way from the mountain area to Rabbit Ears Pass.
Another option is to drive north on Colo. 9 in the morning, head west on U.S. 40 from Kremmling, and take Colo. 134 for a drive west over Gore Pass to Colo. 131 at Toponas.
However, by 2 p.m., the eastbound and westbound offramps on I-70 will be closed at Silverthorne and will remain that way until 3:30 p.m. while the cyclists make the final Stage 5 push to Breckenridge.
If you live on race route
Mohr said people who live along stretches of the race route will have some freedom to use the highway, even during periods of closure.
“People who live along the route and want to visit a neighbor to watch the race, or drive into Steamboat to go to the grocery store, may enter the highway,” Mohr said. "However, if the race is approaching, the State Patrol will pull them over and ask them to wait until it passes.”
CDOT’s posted closures
Saturday’s road closures and approximate timing as posted by the Colorado Department of Transportation:
■ U.S. Highway 40 at Colorado Highway 134
Westbound U.S. 40 closes at Colo. 134 (north of Kremmling) at 9 a.m. today and is scheduled to reopen at 1:30 p.m. Motorists can use the alternative route via northbound Colo. 134 to Colo. 131.
■ U.S. 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass
Eastbound U.S. 40 over Rabbit Ears Pass will close from Steamboat Springs at 10:30 a.m. today and is scheduled to fully reopen at 1:30 p.m. Motorists can use the alternative route of Colo. 131 to I-70.
■ Colorado Highway 9
Northbound Colo. 9 closed at Ute Pass Road (between Silverthorne and Green Mountain Reservoir) at 1 p.m. Saturday. Scheduled to reopen at 3:30 p.m.
■ Colorado Highway 9/U.S. Highway 6
Expect up to 30-minute delays for northbound Colo. 9 and U.S. 6 at Silverthorne/Dillon beginning at 2 p.m. and ending at 3:30 p.m.
■ Interstate 70
Eastbound and westbound offramps will be closed at Exit 205 (Silverthorne/Dillon) from 2 to 3:30 p.m. today.
Stage 5 course overview