Steamboat Springs Like it does for every major event that rolls into the city, Steamboat Springs Transit has an enticing sales pitch for spectators of the upcoming USA Pro Challenge:
"Relax. ... We'll Drive."
Steamboat's free bus service transported an estimated 7,500 passengers in 2011 when the elite cyclists first raced through town.
Transit Director Jonathan Flint said Tuesday that based on the success of the race back then, he is bracing for even more spectators and bus riders when the race finishes in downtown Steamboat next week.
To accommodate the traffic, the city will run twice as many buses as it normally does on a summer day and change some of its routes to better navigate the road closures for the event.
Most importantly, Flint said spectators who want to avoid parking headaches downtown and make it to the finish line in time should plan to board a bus that will get them downtown at least an hour before the scheduled finish time of 4:45 p.m.
Spectators can arrive much earlier than that and enjoy watching children's bike races at 1 p.m. and the Steamboat Bike Polo league's exhibition game at 2 p.m. in front of the historic downtown courthouse.
“The neat thing is there's going to be a lot of fun stuff happening downtown,” Flint said.
On Wednesday, the bus service will be expanded to five routes from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
The routes include a pink line that will bypass traffic congestion on U.S. Highway 40 by taking riders from the Gondola Transit Center to Oak Street via Steamboat Boulevard and a black line that will depart the Stock Bridge Transit Center and take riders to several stops downtown before continuing on to the grocery stores and the Gondola Transit Center.
“We've got some pretty intense plans for this,” Flint said. “Our bottom line is that things are going to be very fluid, so we've got to be ready to change at a moment's notice.”
He said about 28 to 30 transit employees will run the show on race day.
When the cyclists leave Thursday, spectators can take the free bus to the Meadows Parking Lot and ride the Wild Horse gondola to Gondola Square to see the start of the race at about 10 a.m.
Use the following guide to help plan your commute: