Mike Cruse lounges around at noon to safeguard his prime spot to watch the USA Pro Challenge finish in downtown Steamboat Springs. Fans started camping out at the finish line as early as 8:30 a.m. prior to the expected finish time of 4:45 p.m.

Photo by Scott Franz

Mike Cruse lounges around at noon to safeguard his prime spot to watch the USA Pro Challenge finish in downtown Steamboat Springs. Fans started camping out at the finish line as early as 8:30 a.m. prior to the expected finish time of 4:45 p.m.

USA Pro Challenge fanatics camp out to get best view of finish in Steamboat Springs

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— Before the day is over, Paula Taylor and Cheryl Leschig will have camped out for more than eight hours right next to USA Pro Challenge finish line in downtown Steamboat Springs to see just a few seconds of excitement.

But the sisters said the whoosh will be well worth the wait.

“It's going to be so fun to cheer them on,” Taylor, who is visiting from Indianapolis, said from her floppy chair set up by the rails just a few feet from where the cyclists will finish.

Getting around

Daily road closure information during the event will be available by calling 511 or by visiting www.cotrip.org.

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A group of local cyclists huddled under the still quiet finish arch to pose for photos.

If you didn't plant a floppy chair at 8:30 a.m. at the finish and you aren't one of the lucky dozens of locals who have spots reserved for them on the rooftops of downtown businesses, chances are many of the best finish line spots already are spoken for.

Mike Cruse, visiting from Columbia, Mo., got a prime spot by planting a few chairs for himself and his parents 10 to 15 yards from the finish line at about 11 a.m.

“The prime real estate goes fast,” he said, noting his spot gives him a clear view of a giant television that will broadcast the race and the announcers who will give the crowd the play-by-pay.

As Cruse lounged around guarding the spot, his mother, Alice, rewarded him with a fresh sandwich from the Shack a couple of blocks away.

Cruse said he started getting interested in cycling when Lance Armstrong was winning the Tour de France over and over again.

“It's a sore subject now, but my interest in cycling certainly stuck,” he said.

He recently traveled to France to watch the mountainous Alpe d'Huez stage and even slept in his car to ensure he could get a good view of the racers going by.

“It looks like a boring sport, but there's a tremendous amount of effort and strategy that goes into it,” Cruse said.

Although the hard core fans were able to secure the best spots in Steamboat by showing up at least eight hours in advance, some locals have had an easier chance to get a good view without the wait.

Employees at Colorado Group Realty will be able to watch the sprint finish from the rooftop of their downtown building.

The Rio Grande Mexican Restaraunt had to stop taking reservations for its rooftop patio after four groups requested to be dining above street level at 3 p.m., presumably to catch the finish from above.

And others will be a bit higher on the top of the Old Town Pub, an establishment that proved a popular place to watch the race in 2011.

“This is like the greatest show on Earth, Steamboat resident Kim Hornsby said from her Big Agnes Helinox chair about 20 meters from the finish line. “It's not like anything else I've ever done or seen.”

To reach Scott Franz, call 970-871-4210 or email scottfranz@SteamboatToday.com

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