Today, UsingMiles.com is launching a new weekly series on our blog that will help frequent flyers find the best places to visit using their miles. Each week, our savvy editorial travel staff will select one place that you must see and tell you how to do it using miles.
We’re launching the series in our own backyard with a recommendation to visit good old Colorado for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. This six stage race is said to be the most intense bike race in America and 16 teams of professional cyclists from all over the world have come to Colorado to compete at over two miles above sea level.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge started on August 22nd in Colorado Springs and will continue until August 26th, finishing in Denver. Along the way, participants will tour several Colorado mountain towns including Crested Butte, Aspen, Vail, Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge.
On August 22nd pro cyclist Patrick Gretsch won the first event of the race, the “Prologue.” The Prologue is a downhill, individual time trial, which determined the order of riders for the first stage.
In the first stage of the race on August 23rd, cyclists traveled 102 miles with a total climb of 8,020 feet following this route from Salida to Crested Butte. If that doesn’t sound hard enough already, participants simultaneously competed in side challenges such as the “King of the Mountain,” where a few riders earned additional points for being among the first to ascend the 11,315 foot Monarch Pass. These points, as well as the ones earned for the fastest stage completion, will ultimately be used to determine the overall winner at the end of Stage 6.
Yesterday, professional cyclists endured the most difficult stage of the entire race and perhaps the hardest single day of bicycle racing anywhere in the nation. Stage 2 includes a grueling journey from Gunnison to Aspen, climbing two 12,000 foot mountains on narrow roads with a 6.5% steepness gradient. Riders have 40% less oxygen at this altitude, a 40 degree lower average temperature than at sea level and must bike for 131 miles straight through to the finish line in Aspen. Check out the current standings and records at the USA Pro Cycling Website
Here is a video recap of Stage 2, the most strenuous race on American soil!
For those who want to be a part of this international event, the race is hosting a festival that features ongoing entertainment, food, drinks, merchandise, gear and a convenient kid’s zone. You can use your frequent flyer miles to travel to any of the stages in Colorado, where you’re sure to have a great time enjoying this world-renowned race.
To get exclusive access to the race, you can still get a VIP pass, including transportation and accommodation, directly from the USA Pro Cycling website. This is the probably the best way to get yourself close to the action, however, you can always book your flights and hotels independently. You can start by choosing a stage you want to see and plan your visit around that day. If you want to check out Stage 6, for instance, you could arrive at the DIA Airport sometime on August 26th, giving you you enough time to settle in to your hotel and watch the cyclists sprint through Denver on August 28th. Check out the Stage 6 Route Map to help choose the best places to stay for a view of this incredible test of endurance and technical skill.