For half a century, locals, and visitors to the Detroit Lakes area had a local ski hill, Detroit Mountain, for winter fun on the slopes. Sadly, the resort fell into disrepair and shut down in 2004 and for a decade remained closed.
With no place to ski, the community formed a plan – to reopen Detroit Mountain as a year-round resort, with skiing, biking, and even hiking trails. They pulled together and formed a non-profit, Detroit Mountain Recreation Area, Inc., and began fund raising efforts to transform the idea into reality.
In 2014, after raising $8.5 million dollars in private donations, Detroit Mountain once again opened. Gone was the old lodge and in its place was a beautiful new facility. True to their vision, the resort has since offered year round activities with skiing, snowboarding, tubing, a terrain park, and cross-country ski trails, and in the summer, mountain biking with flow and downhill trails, a skills course, a Strider Adventure Zone for the little ones and hiking.
Now in its second summer season, the resort is hosting events such as the Detroit Mountain Shakedown mountain bike race. We stopped by Detroit Mountain the day before the race to learn a bit more and get a tour of the resort with General Manager, Jeff Staley.
Detroit Mountain turned to Progressive Trail Design out of Arkansas, who has built bike parks in bike-crazy locations like Park City, Utah; Aspen, Colorado; and Castle Rock, Colorado, to build their bike trails. With trails designed for all rider levels, the Detroit Mountain trails include lift accessed downhill flow trails, contour flow trails with some nice rolling terrain, and a skills course.
For the kiddos 18 months to 5 years, Detroit Mountain has a Strider Adventure Zone to get them learning balance, handling skills and the fundamentals of riding without the complication of moving pedals.
Detroit Mountain operates a comprehensive bike rental shop with standard, premium and fat tire bikes rentals available with full day, half day and twilight options.
Skiing and snowboarding
As a ski bum, I can only imagine how happy Detroit Lakes skiers were when the lifts on those brand new triple chairs began to turn in 2014.
With the capability for snowmaking on 100% of the terrain, as long as it is cold enough, Detroit Mountain can keep smiles on the faces of those skiers and boarders throughout the winter months regardless of snowfall amounts. Offering day and night skiing, the resort has skiable terrain ranging from a bunny hill to black runs, and the Scheel’s Terrain Park, with tricks, jumps, and rails. The resort has a full-service ski rental facility and offers lessons as well.
Just outside the lodge, a warming hut provides additional space for resting, eating and group events in a warm and cozy atmosphere.
Tubing and Cross Country Skiing
In addition to downhill skiing and boarding, the Landslide Tubing Park, served by a Magic Carpet, provides fun on the snow with no special skills or equipment needed.
For those preferring Nordic skiing, Detroit Mountain’s 7 km of groomed cross country ski trails wind through the beautiful Minnesota countryside. In the summer, the trails are used for hiking.
Dining & drinking
All days on the hill require a bit of après time and Detroit Mountain has just the spot with the beautiful Horses Neck Saloon where you can hop on a saddle and enjoy a beer or glass of wine with fabulous mountain views.
Should hunger pangs arise, The Mountain Café offers a variety of tasty lodge fare with plenty of indoor seating or head outside to catch some sun on the deck and dine with a slopeside view.
Detroit Mountain’s address is 29409 170th St, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501.
Detroit Mountain is about 3 miles from Detroit Lakes, approximately 49 miles from Fargo, ND and 214 miles from the Minneapolis-St Paul airport. Be sure and check road conditions before heading to the resort. Free parking is available at the resort.
While we were in Detroit Lakes, we stayed at the beautiful Best Western Premier Lodge on the Lake, which is only about 3 miles from Detroit Mountain. Located along the shores of Detroit Lake, The Lodge has an indoor pool, day spa, fitness center, complimentary breakfast, spacious fireplace lounge, and a private beach.
Disclosure & disclaimer: Special thanks to Explore Minnesota and the Detroit Lakes Chamber of Commerce for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.
The 2016 Amgen Tour of California began in San Diego, California Sunday, May 15 and wrapped up nearly 800 miles later in Sacramento on Sunday, May 22. Along the route from south to north, the riders climbed mountains, traveled the beautiful Hwy 1 along the California coastline and visited majestic Lake Tahoe.
In the end, a 23-year-old Frenchman, Julian Alaphilippe, took home the yellow jersey, something he’d had in his possession since winning the third stage of the race and taking over the race lead in Santa Barbara County.
A couple of days before the race began, a select group of riders met with the press at the San Diego Yacht Club. A beautiful setting, the San Diego Yacht Club dates back to 1886, when local boating enthusiasts formed the club, which has been located at its current location in Point Loma since 1924.
Pre-race press conferences typically include race official speeches, sponsor promotions, local celebrity cyclists and, of course, a handful of the cyclists riding the race.
It was an all-star lineup of cyclists including 2012 Tour de France winner, Sir Bradley Wiggins, Mark Cavendish, Alexander Kristoff, Julian Alaphilippe, Peter Sagan, John Degenkolb, and Taylor Phinney. Chatting under the California sun, the riders answered questions and bantered amongst themselves in the relaxed southern California atmosphere.
A day off followed the press conference, then it was time for the race to begin its journey toward the north.
San Diego stage 1 circuit
The 108 mile Stage 1 began at Mission Bay, traveled through Balboa Park and various San Diego neighborhoods, moved to the nearby hills east of the city, then returned to a finish a couple of miles from the start, near Sea World.
Seven riders quickly pulled off the front of the peloton, maintaining about a four minute lead on the peloton for the majority of the day. We spent the day in a media car in the peloton, near the breakaway group of riders.
As with most breakaways, it fell apart near the end, with 2015 Amgen Tour of California winner, Peter Sagan of Tinkoff taking the stage 1 win.
I’m very happy to be here again, to catch a first victory here, in the first stage. Thank you to all my teammates. Today was a good day. I came here the first time in 2010…it was a very nice race, very good organization, very nice hotels, food. Also, the level of the race is very good, and it’s also very good for preparation because it’s good weather. Now it’s the Giro and Tour of California. And I prefer to come here to train and prepare. And also I like California for the fans, and I’ve won a lot of stages here, and I’m very happy always to return here.”
– Peter Sagan
Stage 2: South Pasadena to Santa Clarita
Day two began in South Pasadena near Rose Bowl Stadium, the site of the finish of the 2015 race. Located only six miles from downtown Los Angeles, South Pasadena is a picturesque community in San Gabriel Valley known for its tree-lined streets and historic homes.
Leaving South Pasadena, the riders spent the day covering 92 miles that included visits to Big Tujunga and Little Tujunga Canyon in Angeles National Forest, before ending in Santa Clarita, which has hosted the most stages in the history of the race.
Remember the above statement from stage one that most breakaways fall don’t make it to the finish? Yeah, well, sometimes they do.
Ben King (Cannondale) and Evan Huffman (Rally) survived the stage 2 breakaway with King taking the win in Santa Clarita. Alexander Kristoff (Katusha) took third along with the peloton 8 seconds later.
The win also placed King in the overall race lead, taking the yellow jersey from Peter Sagan heading into stage 3.
I knew Evan was a pretty quick sprinter. He smoked me in both of the King of the Mountain sprints, so I was hesitant to let it come down to a sprint, but I couldn’t drop him on the climb, so in the end we both fully committed to make the breakaway stick to the finish, and in the end, Evan let out the sprint, and I was able to come around him in the finish.”
– Ben King
South to Central California
Stage 3: Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara County
Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) dominated on the Queen Stage of the Amgen Tour of California, taking the win on Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara County and the overall race lead.
The goal at the start of the day was to be in a good position in the final kilometers and I was there thanks to the hard work of my teammates, who protected me throughout the day. I felt good, left it late to attack and from then on put in a strong effort. Now I’m in yellow, which is great, and I’m prepared to take things day by day.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step
The race finished for the first time on the legendary Gibraltar Road, with the final 12 kilometers ascending at an average 8% grade.
At 10 kilometers to go, the day’s break had dissolved and the peloton began to fracture. Neilson Powless (Axeon Cycling) pulled away from the main group, riding solo for several kilometers, until he was joined by Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) and Lachlan Morton (Jelly Belly).
With three kilometers remaining in the race, Stetina attacked. Alaphilippe quickly bridged to Stetina from the main group, then continued on, passing him enroute to the finish and the stage 3 win.
Stetina finished the day in second place, as well as in the overall race, and now sits 19 seconds back.
George Bennett (Team LottoNL-Jumbo) was third for the day, which moved him into third place in the general classification, 31 seconds behind Alaphilippe.
I’m happy with my performance today. I didn’t know how my condition would be because I was sick in the spring classics. I want to thank the boys for their help today and the team for the possibility to train in Colorado to build up again.”
– George Bennett
Stage 4: Thousand Oaks to Santa Barbara County
Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) picked up another win at stage 4 of the Amgen Tour of California at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey County. Greg Van Avermaet (BMC Racing) was second and Nathan Haas (Dimension Data).
“I’m feeling pretty good after that stage. It would have better if we could have won a stage already but in the end it was a good day for us and I’m pretty happy with my form after coming back from my crash in Flanders. I think Brent and Rohan had a really good day in GC and everything went pretty well.
For me, on the uphill sections I tried to follow as if you know there is a good finish for you, you can always hang on longer. So, I tried to get over the climbs and the team did a really good job today keeping the pace pretty high. In the end, there was a little bit of gambling about how the finish would go. I’ve beaten [Peter] Sagan a few times already but this time he won so next time I will have to try and beat him again.”
– Greg Van Avermaet, BMC Racing Team
Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) retained the overall lead, now 22 seconds in front of Peter Stetina (Trek-Segafredo) and 37 seconds ahead of George Bennett (Team LottoNL-Jumbo).
Stage 5: Lodi to Lake Tahoe
Toms Skujins (Cannondale) survived the breakaway to win stage 5 of the Amgen Tour of California at Heavenly Mountain in South Lake Tahoe. Adam De Vos (Rally) was second and Xabier Zandio (Team Sky) was third.
To get into the break, you have to try at least a couple of times. I knew that the altitude was going to make people suffer, and I knew that even if it wasn’t the steepest hills that the race would be blown to bits. It was a good day for the breakaway. I was really happy I could get into the move, and of course, I was happy to take out the win.”
– Toms Skujins
No change in the top of General Classification, with Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) holding onto the overall race lead by 22 seconds over Peter Stetina (Trek Segfredo) heading into the stage 6 time trial in Folsom.
Stage 6: Folsom Individual Time Trial
Rohan Dennis (BMC Racing Team) won the stage 6 time trial in Folsom with a time of 24 minutes 16 seconds, but Julian Alaphilippe remains in yellow. Andrew Talansky (Cannondale) was second at the ITT and Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) was third.
I was fairly confident as I crossed the line that I had set the quickest time for the rest of the race. I was in a fair bit of pain, the main thing I remember was that I had that taste of metallic in my mouth for the last four or five kilometers from the lactate so it was good to get a drink and wash that out.
The wind was definitely getting stronger and stronger throughout the day which actually played into our favor a little bit with Alaphilippe because he is a smaller rider and would have been blown around a little bit more. In the end it didn’t make too much of a difference with the stage win, that was my goal for the day as well as trying to take time out. So, it was still a good day, even if we didn’t get the yellow jersey.”
– Rohan Dennis
The ride moved Dennis into second place in the overall standings, now 16 seconds behind Alaphilippe with two stages remaining. Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) is in third 38 seconds back.
Of course I’m really happy, and a small surprise for me to stay in yellow today, because the time trial is not really my specialty.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step
Stage 7: Santa Rosa to Sacramento
Alexander Kristoff (Katusha Team) took the stage 7 victory in Santa Rosa, edging out Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Danny Van Poppel (Team Sky).
We had to chase hard and still in the end Peter Sagan was right there with me even though he had been out there by himself all that time. Unbelievable. I was happy to be able to hold him off. I think if he had saved some energy from earlier he would have beaten me. I had wanted to see how I felt after the climbs before I put my team to work, but once we came across the last one I could tell I was OK. I was tired, but I knew everyone else was also tired. The guys all did such a good job. It’s always good to finish it off with a win and it shows I am going the right way for the Tour de France.”
– Alexander Kristoff, Katusha Team
Julian Alaphlippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) held on to his overall lead, which should send him to the race win at stage 8 in Sacramento.
Reflecting on the 2016 race, Alaphilippe recognized the importance of his time trial performance in his overall success, while pointing to his stage 3 victory on Gibraltar Road in Santa Barbara county as the highlight:
Victory is always something special. Yesterday was a good performance for me because I’m really not a specialist and I never train with my TT (time trial) bike….I know for only 20k’s (kilometers), I can do something good.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step
Stage 8: Sacramento
Julian Alaphilippe (Etixx – Quick-Step) became the youngest winner of the Amgen Tour of California, winning the 2016 race in Sacramento at the age of 23.
It was stressful today, because everyone wanted to stay at the front and fought for a better position. Usually, I’m not nervous, but today things were different, as the victory was closer and closer. Thankfully, I had a powerful team around me, which was always in charge, and as soon as Tom Boonen hit the front with me safely tucked behind him, it was like being on a holiday. Now, we’ll celebrate the win, but once we will return home, I’ll be back on my bike, training and looking to further improve.”
– Julian Alaphilippe, Etixx – Quick-Step
Mark Cavendish (Dimension Data) picked up the final stage win of the race, edging out Peter Sagan (Tinkoff) and Alexander Kristoff (Katusha Team) for the win in a sprint finish.
Its been a tough week, Nathan was third the other day, but we really wanted to get this stage win. It was a windy day, so we had to take on the race. The guys rode out of their skins, Jacques rode the whole day on the front, and then everyone was just really going for it. We had to use our whole lead-out to catch the break, so in the end it was a bit a case of free styling. I was on Sagan’s wheel and know this finish really well. I’ve won here before and knew that, if was in the right position I should win here.”
– Mark Cavendish, Dimension Data
Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.
The USA Pro Cycling Challenge wrapped up Sunday on the front lawn of the Capitol building in Denver Colorado. The men’s event, in its fifth edition, was joined this year by the inaugural edition of the Women’s Pro Challenge, a very welcome and complimentary addition to this ‘Tour of Colorado’.
“Long overdue” has been the mantra for women cyclists and their fans, and 2015 has proven to be a watershed year for the advancement of women’s racing around the globe. Many prominent men’s races took advantage of the obvious opportunity to provide cycling fans more bang for their cycling-crazed buck by adding women’s racing to their agendas. And recently the UCI formed a Women’s World Tour starting in 2016, further solidifying the women’s position in the professional cycling peloton.
The USA Pro Challenge followed this advancement trend and provided a stellar foundation for the women to compete on. A three-stage event; a Stage 1 time trial preceding the men’s Stage 5 time trial on Friday in Breckenridge, a 93km road stage from Loveland to Fort Collins following many of the same roads as the Stage 6 men’s race that started fifteen minutes after the women rolled out and a Stage 3 criterium in Golden after the final stage of the men’s race got underway. Needless to say, the riders took full advantage of this opportunity and delivered world-class racing in return.
Sixty-six riders representing twelve teams would take the start for the Stage 1 Time Trial in Breckenridge. The course would follow the same 13.7km route the men would contest later in the day and included the steep slopes of Moonstone Road up to an elevation of 10,088’ and the fast descent of Boreas Pass taking the riders back into town for a tricky finish.
Kristen Armstrong (Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR), who turned 42 in the weeks leading up to the race, would demonstrate her rich and storied pedigree turning in a performance that would edge out her teammate, Allie Dragoo (Allie Oop) by the narrowest of margins. The official time gap between Armstrong and Dragoo was 12 one-hundredths of a second giving Kristen Armstrong the first ever Women’s Leaders Yellow Jersey.
Of Dragoo, Armstrong said, “I love the challenge that was presented today. I don’t look at Allie as losing to me. I look at Allie as an amazing talent coming up on the peloton”. Allie Oop was equally cordial and respectful of her teammates’ victory and the narrow margin, “I’m not going to let it eat me alive. I rode my best. It could have been a gust of wind. It could have been something so small. You never know what could have happened. All I can do is be proud of my self, and be happy for Kristin. It was a good ride.” The podium was rounded out by Amanda Miller(Visit Dallas) 24 seconds off the pace set by Armstrong and Dragoo.
The Stage 2 start line call-ups in Loveland included Kristen Armstrong (Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR), the race leader in the Smash Burger Yellow Jersey, Allie Dragoo(Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR) sporting the Lexus Sprint Classification Leaders Green Jersey, Abigail Mickey(United Healthcare Professional) wearing the Sierra Nevada QOM Leaders Red Jersey, Chloe Dygart(Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR) wearing the Colorado Tourism Best Young Rider Leaders Blue Jersey, Breanne Nalder(DNA Cycling) wearing the Strava Most Courageous Rider Orange Jersey and the rest of Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR as the leaders of the best team competition.
The heat and the wind were the two factors on everyone’s mind as the riders signed in and were introduced by the iconic voice and personality of Dave Towles. Strong and gusty tail and cross tailwinds negated any chances that a break would form early on and the wind would follow the riders west to the canyons where the QOM points would be contested. A split would finally form on the climb of Rist Canyon and four riders would stay clear spurred on by an aggressive and fearless descent.
The group was made up of Taylor Wiles (DNA Cycling) Lauren Komanski and Kristin Armstrong (Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR) and Mara Abbott (Amy D Foundation). Tyler Wiles would jump clear of the group and out-sprinted them to win the Stage in front of huge and enthusiastic crowds packing the downtown finish. “I knew I was going to have to play it pretty smart since there were two Twenty16 riders,” said Wiles. “Lauren Komanski had gone again with 500 meters to go, so I stuck on her wheel. Then I went with about 400 meters to go, which was pretty early. It was a long straight drag and I knew if I could get a jump and get a little on the downhill I could hold it.”
Adding to the electric atmosphere, cycling legend Connie Carpenter-Phinney was on hand to provide colorful PA commentary as a highlight to the festivities.
The successful long-range break would shake up the GC as well as the majority of the other points classifications. Kristen Armstrong would retain Yellow now followed by Taylor Wiles and Mara Abbott. Taylor Wiles stage win would wrest the Green Jersey from Allie Dragoo and Mara Abbott would claim the right to wear the Red QOM Jersey. Abigail Mickey would rightfully claim the jersey for the Best Young Rider, previously on loan from Allie Dragoo and the Most Courageous of the day would belong to Coryn Rivera(United Healthcare Professional). Twenty 16 p/b SHO-AIR would continue as the leader of the best team competition.
Golden Colorado played host to the Stage 3 start on Sunday and the town delivered a brilliant atmosphere as has come to be expected during its tenure as a host city. The women set out on a very technical 2.4km circuit that they would race for an hour. Barring catastrophe Kristen Armstrong’s 31-second grip on Yellow seemed unlikely to be threatened. At the end of the day, she would survive and only give back two seconds to her nearest rival, Taylor Wiles.
Coryn Rivera (United Healthcare Professional) would take the stage honors with an aggressive style coming through the final corner into the finish. Tyler Wiles and Mara Abbott would round out the day’s podium. On her victory, “It was a really fast finish,” said Rivera. “I had a feeling I wanted to be first out of the last corner as I know it was going to be fast and it was off camber. I wanted to take that risk without anyone near me. I took the last corner on my own and let it all out.”
With the overall win, Kristen Armstrong takes home a new Lexus and her name will forever be etched on the race as its first ever winner. Her sentiments echoed the sentiments of many in the cycling community. “This is the beginning of the new U.S. women’s cycling,” Armstrong said. “This is hopefully going to be contagious across the nation, across the world, because this is what we deserve.” Tyler Wiles (DNA Cycling) and Mara Abbott (Amy D Foundation) rounded out the final GC podium.
The final Jersey podium was as follows:
Kristin Armstrong(Twenty16-Sho p/b Sho Air) – Smashburger Race Leader Jersey.
Coryn Rivera(United Healthcare Professional) – Lexus Sprint Points Jersey.
Mara Abbott(Amy D. Foundation) – Sierra Nevada Queen of the Mountains Jersey.
Abigail Mickey(United Healthcare Professional) – The Colorado.com Best Young Rider Jersey
Amanda Miller(Visit Dallas p/b Noise4Good) – Strava Most Courageous Rider Jersey
Viewed as a success, Sean Petty, Women’s USA Pro Challenge Race Director said. “I looked up that hill today and saw the huge crowds in Golden and tears came to my eyes.” “A lot of hard work went into this from the communities Breckenridge, Fort Collins and Golden and they exceeded all of our expectations. Our goal is to continue to grow the race and make it bigger and better every year.”
Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.
In its first tour since being awarded 2.HC status by the UCI, which placed the race at the same level as the Tour of Qatar, Critérium International, Amgen Tour of California and USA Pro Challenge, the Tour of Utah 2015 began in the north on August 3rd in Logan, Utah.
The 2015 Tour of Utah included…
712 miles/1,145.85 kilometers – second longest course in 11 years
51,442 feet/15,679.5 meters of elevation gain – most climbing of any race in North America
7 stages – second year for full week
10 ski resorts – highest number of ski resorts passed
Extended outside Utah to the Bear Lake region of Idaho
3 new state parks along route – Bear Lake State Park, Antelope Island State Park and Wasatch Mountain State Park
2 courses unveiled for Tour of Utah Women’s Edition: Criterium Classic in Logan and Ogden
Kiel Reijnen (United Healthcare) kicked off the race, winning the first stage in Logan after a rain-soaked day of riding, edging out fellow Boulder riders, Alex Howes (Cannondale-Garmin) and Taylor Phinney (BMC Racing) at the line.
In Taylor Phinney’s first appearance since suffering serious injuries in a crash 62 weeks ago at Nationals, Phinney stepped on the podium.
Throughout the week, the race made visits to Tremonton, Ogden, Antelope Island, and Bountiful, Soldier Hollow, Heber Valley, Salt Lake City, Snowbird and Park City.
Jure Kocjan (Team Smartstop) won the bunch sprint in Ogden and picked up the stage 2 win. Robin Carpenter (Hincapie Racing Team) was second and Brent Bookwalter (BMC Racing Team) was third.
With the win, Jure Kocjan took the yellow jersey from Kiel Reijnen, then passed it on to Michael Woods following stage 3. As the race made its way around northern Utah, fans turned out to cheer their favorite team and watch the behind the scenes action.
Joe Dombrowski took over the race lead with stage 6 and held on until the finish line in Park City, winning the overall race for 2015.
Tom Danielson (Cannondale-Garmin) announced Sunday night via Twitter that he has been informed by USADA that he tested positive for a synthetic steroid in an out-of-competition test on July 9.
Danielson was in Logan, Utah to defend his title at the Tour of Utah, which he’d won for the past two years.
Danielson continued on Twitter:
“I spoke with them and my team and I will have to sit out the Tour of Utah as I wait for the B sample as well as look into all the possible ways that could have produced this result.”
“I would never ever take anything like this especially after everything I have gone through the last years. This makes absolutely no sense.”
“I will now, as I wait for the B test, have the supplements I take, tested to see if this is what caused it.”
Slipstream Sports, owners of Team Cannondale-Garmin, issued the following statement:
Tom Danielson notified Slipstream Sports that he was informed by USADA that he has returned an adverse analytical A sample using carbon isotope testing. In accordance with Slipstream Sports’ zero tolerance anti-doping policy, he has been suspended from competition, effective immediately. He awaits the results his B sample. Slipstream respects and will adhere to the process of the anti-doping authorities and will not comment further.
You see their logos on banners, barricades and race vehicles. Stages are named after them. They present gifts to the riders on podiums. Their logos are on the stage winners’ jerseys.
They are cycling race sponsors – the businesses that make pro cycling races possible.
Where marketing intersects with cycling
Marketing at cycling races is as old as cycling races themselves.
The first Tour de France in 1903 was conceived by Géo Lefèvre of the newspaper L’Auto (predecessor of today’s L’Équipe) to increase circulation after sales stagnated to which they attributed to their longtime competitor Le Vélo.
Cycling races had previously been used to promote newspaper sales but no one had tried such a long distance race. The first Tour de France started on the 1st of July in 1903 in the village of Montgeron and, as they say, the rest is history. Along the way, it’s gotten a bit more commercial. One of the most popular aspects of the current day Tour de France is the publicity tour that precedes the race each day, arriving an hour before the riders to the delight of the fans as they scramble to collect the hats, food, product samples and trinkets tossed from the parade.
A cycling race is a big – and yes, commercial – event. Bringing the event to fruition is a huge undertaking with thousands of people and months of work involved. It is not a cheap endeavor.
Enter the sponsors.
Just like publishing or television, sponsors are required to bring content to market. In this case, it just happens that the content is the race.
And, while some sponsors are happy with a logo on a barricade, others are a bit more inventive. Such was the case with Malouf, a creative company headquartered in Logan, Utah, the host city for the start of the 2015 Tour of Utah.
Sweet dreams for the Tour of Utah 2015 riders
When Jake Neeley of Malouf heard the riders at the Tour of Utah would be staying in the dorms at Utah State University, he saw an opportunity to improve the spot where these pro cyclists placed their heads during the race.
Malouf, a maker of high-quality pillows and sleep products, gave each rider of the 2015 Tour of Utah a pillow of their choice during the team presentation ceremonies prior to the race. The riders had fun with the project and seemed to thoroughly enjoy the selection process.
With a professional bike race in our back yard and a good number of employees who race locally, our interest in sponsoring the Tour of Utah came quite easily. That interest went beyond just getting our logo printed on a banner or having our name mentioned during race events; we wanted to make a more personal impact. As a creator of high-end pillows, we knew we could promote better recovery by giving each rider a pillow to use during the race and after.
As each team left the stage, I loved seeing the excitement of the riders when they learned we were giving them a pillow! We gave away over 200 pillows, but dozens of pillow filled selfies was all worth it.
If this is the fastest Tour of Utah to date, we might just have to take some credit.”
No matter which bike race we are covering, rarely a day goes by without people telling us how they wished they could do what we do. It’s true, covering pro cycling is pretty cool.
But, it’s also a lot of work. We multitask and function on little sleep to get it done – and, we honestly rarely accomplish everything we want to in a day before it’s time to move on to the next town. So, I thought I’d share what it’s like with life on the road covering the Tour de France. I chose stage 3 which began in Antwerp and ended on the Mur de Huy to provide a glimpse into our day.
First thing each morning, after attempting to remember what town we are in, is to grab the laptop, check social media, post the day’s route map, and have a look again at the technical race guide to plan the day.
Each race provides a technical race guide for the teams, support staff, and media that contains route information, time schedules, maps, parking locations, team hotels and host city information. It is frequently referred to as the “race bible.”
Following a quick shower and jamming everything back in the bags, it’s back to editing photos from the day before. We each typically shoot several hundred to a thousand images in a day, so many photos will remain unedited until after the race.
At this stop, we stayed in the same hotel as Movistar. Heading down to check out, we step off the elevator into a lobby filled with fans waiting in hopes of getting a photo or autograph from Quintana or Valverde.
Not disappointing, Valverde appears just after us and stops for photos with fans.
We head out the door and make our way behind the Movistar guys to the stage start, which is about a 10-minute walk from the hotel through the crowds.
We also frequently hear, “You get to see so many awesome places.” Yes, sort of. We see a lot of hotel rooms, whatever is along the side of the road as we head from start to finish each day and the scenery at the starts and finishes.
Unfortunately, there is rarely – make that never – anytime for sightseeing or exploring the beautiful host cities we find ourselves in each day. Some of the sights are stunning, such as the stage 3 start location in the center of Antwerpen/Antwerp/Anvers (it’s Antwerpen in Dutch-Flemish, Antwerp in English, Anvers in French) and at the finish in Huy.
Shooting the start is the most relaxed part of each day. Riders are casual as they sign in, which at the Tour de France, is actually a push of a button by each rider creating an electronic signature.
Following sign in, riders stop by the PowerBar tent for some snacks, chat with one another, and sign autographs for fans. On this morning, Tommy Voeckler also stopped by the Vittel water station and used some water from the melted ice to wash his tires.
As sign-in grows to a close, we head to the start line. Each day actually has two starts – an unofficial start, where we were near the sign-in and an official start after a parade route/neutral zone. The riders line up, and after they depart, they ride through the neutral zone and then stop again for another ceremony and the official start.
As soon as the riders set off, we grab a takeout lunch and head for the car. Next stop, Huy.
Meanwhile back in Boulder….
A 1:00 pm start in Belgium means a 5:00 am start in Colorado when Todd Hofert rolls out of bed, turns on the race and begins to write. The one disadvantage of covering a race in person is that you actually see very little of it. We have the app on our phones and in Europe, the race is streamed on the Tour website with the ability to switch between moto feeds, which is really cool.
However, in reality, the majority of our day is spent navigating the off-course itinerary and editing a few photos to put up during the race. Some days we intersect with the actual race course for some mid-stage coverage, but not on this stage as we anticipated (correctly) that the Mur de Huy would be quite crowded.
Which brings us back to Todd, who writes the stage recap as it happens throughout the race, capturing the events as they occur, which on stage 3, included some serious crashes.
Like Hansel and Gretel and their breadcrumbs, the race leaves a trail of signs for us to follow on an alternate route from the race to guide us from the start city to the finish line. In many locations, we actually drive the last part of the race route, which is quite helpful in understanding the last kilometers of the race course.
On the way through Huy a couple of guys stopped us and asked for a ride, so they piled in the back and we headed up the hill.
Press parking and the press center is normally very close to the finish line at races. We typically stop by the press center to grab water, head out to scout our locations to shoot the finish, then wait.
The riders hit the finish line, with today’s winner being Team Katusha’s Joaquim “Purito” Rodriguez. Chris Froome (Team Sky) was second and Alexis Vuillermoz (AG2R La Mondiale) was third.
Fabian Cancellara (Trek Factory Racing), who started the day in yellow, crashed mid-way through the stage and was forced to abandon the Tour. Chris Froome (Team Sky) moved into the overall race lead.
Races are carefully choreographed presentations with thousands of people handling the countless tasks that occur each day in multiple locations. Podium at the Tour de France is managed down to the last detail, with a “director” changing the stage background with the push of a button as each jersey is presented and cueing timing with signs.
After shooting podium, we head back into the press center, which at the Tour is massive. Todd’s article is usually in my inbox when I sit down and power up my computer and TravelWifi, our personal wifi. Travel Wifi is a sponsor and is what’s keeping us connected throughout the entire Tour no matter where we happen to be – in our hotel, in our car, in the press center, or out shooting on course.
Results go up, the recap article gets added, we each quickly edit & add the finish line and podium photos. Rider comments are added as they are obtained.
Time to head out for our hotel – always a slow process as the thousands of cars leave the parking areas and head through the small European streets.
Our stage 3 hotel was in Namur, about 40 km away. Planning and scheduling hotels for the entire Tour took a little over three days of work and has to be done after host cities are announced but before the actual race route is published, which takes a bit of guesswork and a lot of searching.
We arrive and the guys we gave a ride up the hill were sitting in our hotel lobby. Quelle coïncidence!
Time for wine, dinner and editing photos. We head to the bar, grab a table near a power outlet, and begin to work again.
11:00 pm – 1:00 am
Back upstairs for more work. Stage 4 is the cobble stage, so we make our plans on which sectors to cover then decide to call it a day at 1:00 am.