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USA Pro Challenge: Colorado Bike Tour

USA Pro Challenge Tour 2014: Colorado Bike Tour

Join Lizard Head Cycling for a celebration of cycling across the state of Colorado
on the USA Pro Challenge.

Lizard Head Peak served as the backdrop for a USA Pro Challenge Aid Station in 2012

USA Pro Challenge: Synopsis

A 7-day cycling festival across Colorado:  Colorado based Lizard Head Cycling Guides offers a well-crafted bike tour that rides ahead and intersects the 7-day USA Pro Challenge bike race across Colorado. New venues and cities in Colorado’s northern reaches will play host this year to the challenge.

“A tour that falls somewhere between a leisurely ride and a pro-level race …

Lizard Head Cycling Guides are back at it again this year touring the same roads as the pros in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge’s tour of Colorado. Read what the Denver Post had to say about the 2012 tour and Lizard Head Cycling’s tour.

In 2013 the Denver Post again writes about Lizard Head with an article coinciding with the  USA Pro Cycling Challenge, read the article HERE.

Ride your bike, sleep in style & enjoy great food while immersed in a celebratory atmosphere:  Lizard Head Cycling knows Colorado’s least traveled side roads, the best lodging and where to find the state’s best malt shops & microbrews.  Join Us!

  • Read what the New York Times, Washington Post and others have to say about Lizard Head Cycling Guides in our In the Press page

Chased by the Peloton!  Lizard Head Cycling Guides’ 2014 tour will feature four stages in which we will be “chased by the peloton.”  What this means is that we will ride the race route just hours before the pros along roads that are largely closed to traffic.  This the most unique aspect of this tour.  If fast enough, you can reach the finish line ahead of the pros.  If staying ahead is not your game, stop and enjoy a mountain top catered lunch with our support vehicle.  Everyone wins…

August 17th – 23rd, 2014

7 days/ 7 nights

350 up to 550 miles

Vande Velde at the Beaver Creek finish, Pro Challenge 2012

                Riding through Rocky Mt. National Park: USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Logistics: 2014 USA Pro Challenge: Colorado Bike Tour

“Cycling is one of the only sports that explores and showcases the world around us.  There are no stadiums to restrict spectators and no roofs to shield its athletes from the elements.  Its arena is landscape, and landscape revels its true secrets from the heavens.  The Colorado Rockies are about as close to heaven as one can climb in North America” 

2014 Meeting Town: Denver, Colorado: La Quinta Inn, Denver Airport, 7 a.m. Sunday, August 17th, 2014

2014 Departure Town: Denver, Colorado: Sunday, August 23rd, 2014

Tour Length: 7 days (7 nights of lodging & 7 days of riding)

Tour Support: One 15-passenger van & trailer

Total Miles:  350 up to 550 total mileage options

Mileage Range: 25 to 123

Ability Level:  Although Lizard Head Cycling’s USA Cycling Tour of Colorado is a challenging tour at altitude, intermediate cyclists have, and will enjoy this tour.  A combination of car-free roads and mileage options provided by the support vehicle make this tour well suited for intermediate to advanced cyclists.  In summary, Lizard Head’s Pro Challenge Tour of Colorado offers as much challenge one could want while offering lower mileage options for intermediate cyclists.

The 2014 US Pro Challenge tour cost is  $2,995-.   A deposit of $950- secures a spot.

The 2014 tour includes: A full 7-nights of exceptional lodging (double occupancy), 6 days of meals (alcohol additional), shuttles, all taxes, guide service, entrance fees, energy food, a fresh lunch each day and mechanical support.  A massage therapist travels with our tours when demand is voiced in advance.  Guests pay the massage therapist directly.

Bike Rental: For 2014 Lizard Head Cycling is proud to rent Scott CR1 Pro carbon road bikes with Shimano Ultegra (Only $250- week).  The Scott CR-1 is a sub 17-lb, lightweight, high performance, bike geared for climbing hills.

Single Rooms: Add $695- single supplement based on availability.  If cyclist is willing to share room, there is no additional cost.

Click Here to View a Comparison of Our Tour Listings


Climbing Independence Pass: Few cars!

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Explore Colorado by Bike

The opportunity to ride hundreds of miles across Colorado mountain roads that are closed or will soon be close to vehicles is reason enough to join our USA Cycling Challenge Bike Tour.  Add in the access to Pro racers, the palpable excitement and good cheer along the route (in 2011 the fans cheered for a pack of gutsy flat-landers from Ohio) and this creates a highlight tour in Colorado.

Top Teams and Racers: This event brings top racers to Colorado such as the Schleck brothers, Tour de France champions Bradley Wiggins and Cadel Evans.  Fan favorite Jens Voight will be back again in 2014.  Lizard Head Cycling stays in many of the same hotels as Pro Cycling teams.


   The Lizard is Loose at 2011 Stage One Finish of the US Pro Cycling Challenge

Am I in good enough shape?  

Ride Difficulty: Lizard Head Cycling’s USA Pro Challenge accommodates both riders who wish to ride from Point A to Point B with few stops and riders looking to enjoy riding at a relaxed pace.  Both intermediate cyclists new to multi-day tours and serious 5,000-mile-a-year-hammer heads have ridden this tour in previous years. Easily accessible shuttle options and multiple aid stations allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy this tour.

Don’t worry about the Altitude:  The rarefied air is a tonic to both man & beast!  Sea-level cyclists have ridden the USA Pro Cycling Challenge tour each year.  Yes you ride slower and yes the heart will beat faster in Colorado, but these are the Colorado Rockies!  The views alone will make your heart beat faster.   Read a Bicycling Magazine article about riding at altitude.  The altitude on the USA Pro Challenge  ranges between 5,500-feet and 12,000-feet.  The average riding elevation is between 7,500 and 8,500-feet.

Do the Bump!
Daily mileage options allow cyclists of varying abilities to enjoy the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. One of our favorite options is to give cyclists a “bump” via the support vehicle.  A bump is a 10 to 20 mile lift down the road representing an hour of pedal time.

After the bump the rider is “off the front” and riding at his or her own pace without feeling they are being left behind the group.  It takes at least an hour reel-in cyclists with a 15-mile head start; as a result off-the-front riders have time to linger and take in the spectacular scenery.  Cyclists come together in time for lunch.  After lunch cyclists can take another bump and/or continue riding.

Slow or Fast?

  • PLEASE don’t be scared away from this tour.
  • Slow and Fast only exist as relative terms to other people.  Speed does not matter as long as you are moving on the bike.
  • “You will be ready for a tour with Lizard Head Cycling when you are finished with a Lizard Head tour”.
  • If you have questions about your ability to ride this tour, please contact our office (info@LizardHeadCyclingGuides.com or 970.728.5891).

Let’s Ride!

Lizard Head Cycling’s Roadside Lunch

“The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is the most demanding bike race ever held on American soil, with racers experiencing breathless altitudes, day after day. The race is on the level of the Tour de France, bringing the high speeds, danger and adrenaline of professional biking to elevations over two-miles high across some of the most picturesque terrain in the world—the Colorado Rocky Mountains.”

—Colorado USA Pro Cycling Challenge website

Up close and personal!

Colorado Rocky Mountain high

2013 Itinerary: USA Pro Challenge Colorado Bike Tour

Tour Meeting Day: 7 a.m. Sunday August 17th, 2013:
La Quinta Inn Denver Airport

On Sunday morning we’ll meet the guests at the La Quinta Inn at the Denver International Airport and shuttle to the race’s 2014 start town of Aspen, Colorado.  Guests can also meet the tour at the first night’s lodging in Aspen at the Limelight Hotel.

2014: Day 0 (Sunday): Aspen to Maroon Bells: 21 Miles

Cyclists will begin their tour Sunday afternoon with a real Aspen cycling classic: the Maroon Creek Road. Starting off at 7,900 feet, the 11-mile climb is nothing short of a picturesque alpine landscape with the iconic peaks of the Elk Mountains.  Pyramid Peak rises in grandeur to 14,018 feet near its sister 14-ers, the Maroon Bells.  Because this area is such a geographic beauty, vehicle regulation are in place and the road is closed to vehicles daily from 8:30 a.m. until 5 p.m. except for shuttle buses and the occasional car. The Maroon Bells Wilderness Area spans a steep 30-mile section of the Elk Mountains with elevations reaching upwards of 14,000 feet.


Day 0 (Sunday): Aspen to Maroon Bells: 21 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,016 feet/Elevation Loss: 2,015 feet

After pedaling below the splendor of the Elk Mountains’ Maroon Bells, enjoying two evenings at the Limelight Hotel in downtown Aspen and all of the swank of the state’s most posh little city.

Aspen, the quintessential resort town of Colorado, has it all and with the race entourage staying in town this evening the atmosphere is sure to be electric.

Lodging and dinner in Aspen will be shared with the Pro athletes at the Limelight Hotel in downtown Aspen.  As the newest hotel in town, the Limelight Hotel, is centrally located in Aspen’s incomparable outdoor red pave’ pedestrian malls with world class shopping, restaurants, and entertainment.

Nights 1 & 2: Aspen views from the Limelight Hotel’s terrace


Stage 1 (Monday): Aspen to Snowmass Loop: 21 Miles

On Stage One cyclists pedal a challenging course from Aspen to Snowmass and back.  After spinning this loop an ascent of Independence Pass is an option for riders with a brave heart.

Aspen has been chosen the start town for the second year in a row because the town knows how to pull off a world class event.

Day 1 (Monday): Aspen to Snowmass Loop: 21 Miles
Elevation Gain: 2,136/Elevation Loss: 2,136

                                                                                     The Aspen Valley

Jen Voigt wins the Aspen to Beaver Creek Stage 2012

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2014 Stage 2 (Tuesday): Aspen to Crested Butte (104-miles)

Although yet to be fully confirmed by race officials, Stage Two from Aspen to Crested Butte is shaping up to climb McClure Pass and Kebler Pass to Crested Butte.  Kebler Pass offers 18-miles of hard packed dirt.

USPRO stage2

Day 2: Aspen to Crested Butte via Kebler Pass
Elevation Gain: 9133 ft
Elevation Loss: 8153 ft

Colorado Mountain Roads

2014 Stage 3 (Wednesday): Gunnison to Monarch Pass (95-miles)

Race the peloton to the top of Monarch Mountain on the continental divide.   The ascent of Monarch Pass represents one of the more challenging sustained paved ascents to 12,000-feet in Colorado.

After watching the pros fight it out, enjoy a descent down the mountain to Salida, where hot springs and a good meal along the Arkansas River await.   After dinner by the river, riders are shuttled to the base of Pikes Peak for Wednesday night’s lodging.

USA Pro Cycling 2012, Breckenridge, Stage 5


2014 Stage 4 (Thursday): Colorado Springs

On Day 5 of Lizard head Cycling’s US Pro Cycling Challenge we will ride what is consider the most arduous climb in North America, Pike’s Peak.

“Pike’s Peak or Bust”  was a common refrain from gold seekers heading west in the 1800′s.  This may be your refrain as you attempt to climb 7,000-feet in 162 turns over 18-miles to 14,110-feet.   There are 10-miles of this climb with a 10% grade that comes above 10,000-feet in elevation.  But these are only numbers.  This is a big climb, there will be suffering, with doubt & elation.  From our lodging at the base of the climb cyclists will have all day to reach the top or not.

Elevation Gain/Loss: + 8,270 feet/-426 feet

2014 Stage 5 (Friday) Woodland Park to Breckenridge (87 miles)

Cyclists race the peloton across rolling terrain before a final leg searing ascent of Hoosier Pass.  This will be a stage were riding in a bunch with fellow cyclists will save energy and help cyclists stay ahead of the pro peloton.

Tonight’s lodging is in downtown Breckenridge just a couple blocks from the finish line.

Fun & Games on the Road

2014 Stage 6: Rocky Mountain National Park to Boulder:
96 Miles of Rocky Mountain High!

On the final day of Lizard Head Cycling’s 2014 USA Pro Challenge tour cyclists will ride one of the most stunning roads in North America, Trail Ridge Road through Rocky Mountain National Park.  Trail Ridge road is considered the “highest continuously paved road” in North American.

On Lizard Head Cycling’s three previous USA Pro Challenge tours Rocky Mountain National Park has proven a highlight experience.  Lizard Head Cycling Guides is proud to once again offer this stage as the final ride of its USA Pro Challenge Tour of Colorado.

48-mile Trail Ridge is the “highest continuously paved road in North America” featuring 12-miles above 12,000-feet with a maximum elevation of 12,183-feet.   Here you literally feel “On Top of the World”!  The snow melt trickling down nooks and crannies all around you are the headwaters of the mighty Colorado River.   Native Americans used this route as a path across the Colorado Rockies.  The paved road which opened in 1920 represents a literal highlight of Lizard Head Cycling’s Tour of Colorado Tour.

After the descent from Rocky Mountain National Park cyclists reach Estes Park, CO and then head south for 30 miles on yet another Colorado cycling gem, the Peak-to-Peak Highway.  Dominated by views of Long’s Peak (14,259′) and Mount Meeker (13,911), this Designated Scenic Byway offers some of the state’s most bracing scenery.  We finish this epic day, this epic tour, fittingly with a long, twisting plunge down Left Hand Canyon to the bike crazed mecca of Boulder, CO.  The total descent on this stage is well over 10,000-feet!

After arriving in Boulder we’ll settle into the Marriott Courtyard Boulder before heading out onto the festive Boulder pedestrian plaza for a fair-well dinner at The Kitchen.

The next day Sunday cyclists can choose to fly out in the morning or opt to witness the final circuit race of the USA Pro Challenge in downtown Denver and then fly out in the late afternoon or evening.

View Quizno's Day 6: Grand Lake/RM Nat Park/Boulder in a larger map

  Note: Click between the “earth”, “map” and “terrain” buttons for varying views.

Day 7: Trail Ridge Road to Boulder: 96 miles
8,675′ ascent
11,140′ descent


Click here: Day 6 Route Flyover for a birds-eye view of the Day 6 Route in Google Earth. When the link opens click on “Download” or “Open”, then “Open” and the tour will start. If you don’t have Google Earth you can download it here: Download Google Earth

Day 7: Tail Ridge Road’s alpine beauty

Day 7: Elk on Trail Ridge Road

Day 7: Elk on Trail Ridge Road

Day 7: Peak to Peak Highway to Boulder

Stage 7: USA Pro Cycling Circuit Race in Denver or Departure Day

Fly out in the morning or ride downtown to view the final race stage into Denver.  Cyclists can choose to fly out early or wait until the late afternoon/evening.  An airport shuttle is provided.

2014 Tour Beta: USA Pro Cycling Challenge: Colorado Bike Tour

Cyclists on Independence Pass

  • Tour Riders: 6 to 13
  • How the Shuttle and Mileage Options Work:
    Lizard Head Cycling’s
    USA Pro Cycling Challenge Tour is designed to offer cyclists a significant challenge while at the same time providing easily accessible mileage options for cyclists of varying fitness levels. This system works with a support vehicle that jumps ahead rather than “sags” to set up aid stations along the route. Cyclists customize their experience by choosing to start each day’s ride from the hotel, or the first aid station, or after the day’s big hill. As an example if a cyclists cuts off 25 miles each day, the 475 mile Ride of Colorado Tour’s distance is cut to 300 miles over 7 days (43 miles per day).
  • Will Colorado’s High Altitudes Affect Me?
    Yes, everyone rides slower at altitude.  The key to enjoying the high mountains is restful sleep at day’s end. Diamox is a drug used as a means to prevent altitude sickness and shortness of breath for mountain climbers.  Previous Lizard Head Cycling clients have used it with success for the USA Pro CC.  One would start using Diamox shortly prior to the tour or when symptoms develop. It can be discontinued at any time. Follow this link to learn more: http://www.webmd.com/drugs/drug-6753-Diamox+Oral.aspx?drugid=6753&drugname=Diamox+Oral. Most of the riding on the Tour of Colorado takes place between 8K and 9,500K with forays over the highest passes to 11K and 12K. The sleeping takes place at 8K to 9K. The important thing is to sleep well, Diamox helps.

Read reviews for this tour >>



Travel Insurance

Lizard Head Cycling recommends clients purchase Travel Insurance through MH Ross Travel Insurance. Lizard Head Cycling can directly set up a policy for its clients or clients can purchase insurance individually through the sales link below.

The estimated cost for a 50-year old buying a $2,500- tour ranges from $100- (standard plan) to about $200- (cancel for any reason plan).

Lizard Head Cycling Guides Custom Sales Portal Link is:


Please visit our blog for more information on travel insurance.