European Haute Route bike event back for 2nd year; company sets up U.S. headquarters on Westside
Consisting of seven days (stages) in all, the first-year event was different from formal bike races by consisting of mostly amateur riders and being organized less like a competition than a rigorous riding experience - meaning no all-day closures of major roadways.
But the riding contingent did impact the Westside by using a rolling police escort that briefly backed up traffic during its 26-mile sojourn.
Haute Route (pronounced “oat root”) will return to the region Friday, June 29 for the 54-mile Stage 7 finale of its second annual Rockies event.
It will be less prominent than last year, at least on Westside roads. There will be no closures (rolling or otherwise) and the route as laid out avoids most Westside commercial or residential areas.
As outlined by Micah Rice, Haute Route's head of operations, the stage will start at Woodland Park, with riders using a private road to gain access to the Pikes Peak Highway. They will gut their way up to the summit before gliding back down the highway and onto Highway 24, where they'll head down the pass.
Taking the Manitou exit, participants will follow the avenue through the small community's downtown.
Stage 7's Westside portion will commence shortly therafter - estimated between noon and 2 p.m. - when the riders enter the Garden of the Gods via Garden Drive.
After pumping through the Garden, turning onto Juniper Way Loop and then Gateway Road, cyclists will cruise north on 30th Street and eventually finish at the Marriott Hotel northwest of Garden of the Gods Road and I-25.
Unlike 2017, which was planned with major help from a Colorado Springs sports agency, this year's Haute Route event will be chiefly run through the European company's newly established United States headquarters at 720 W. Monument Street on the Westside. From that roughly 1,600-square-foot office space, Rice said he and his staff are organizing all four of its 2018 amateur cycling events in the U.S. The other three are in California (San Francisco), North Carolina and Utah.
Each of those is three days long, as compared with Colorado's seven, making the latter - 518 miles in all and involving seven communities - the “queen event,” as he put it.
Haute Route also has offices in London, England; Lausanne, Switzerland; and Paris, France. According to a press release, the company “was created in 2010 by global sports marketing and event company OC Sport to deliver an unparalleled professional experience both on and off the bike for amateur riders.” Technical assistance is provided by the Mavic company (hence that part of the event name).
The reason for choosing the Springs for Haute Route's U.S. headquarters was mainly strategic. “Colorado in general is fantastic as an outdoor center,” Rice said, and “Colorado Springs is especially appealing for a number of reasons.”
Examples he gave included the city's Olympic Training Center, USA Cycling office and UCCS' sports management department, which “provides a good pool of potential employees.”
The cost to ride in Mavic Haute Route Rockies is more than $2,000 a person. Although this may seem like a lot, Rice compared the experience with “ironman” triathlons, such as the annual one in Boulder, where fit individuals pay to test themselves in swimming, running and cycling.
For their expense, Haute Route riders receive considerable support, including “amazing routes” on good roads, massages, food, hotel rooms and an overall staff effort to “raise the experience of the riders,” Rice said.
For the previous eight years, he had been planning events for USA Cycling. He thinks Haute Route “is the direction amateur racing is now heading,” in contrast to formal races that are costly, logistically difficult and sometimes hard on businesses or neighborhoods.
Haute Route riders enjoy the care they receive and camaraderie, as well as the “competitive aspect” - some ride segments are timed - and are OK with roads only being closed part of the time or just on one side, Rice summarized.
From an economic standpoint, Haute Route is good news for the Springs, in that many of its participants come from out of town. In fact in last year's race, he noted, 65 percent of the riders were from overseas.
Westside Pioneer article