I’ve played a part in the Rapha’s Prestige rides since we called them Gentlemen’s Races, and in that time I’ve seen some 1,650 riders cover 1,500 miles of ‘the road less travelled’. And those riders put away something like 10,700 bidons (give or take) and a similar number of post-ride beers. By my measure, the Rapha Prestige Colorado 2016 was a classic, with just the right amalgam of dirt, tarmac, sun and incidents of pedal-madness.
Steamboat Springs sits somewhat remotely in Northwest Colorado. Located in Routt County, nestled up next to the Continental Divide, which traces a long and mountainous line down from Montana to New Mexico, its location makes for spectacular riding. Moots, the frame manufacturer, played generous host to the Prestige and its 25 teams.
The mornings of each Prestige are a similar scene of riders scrambling for cue sheets, hurriedly eating waffles, and performing final checks of tyre pressure. And there’s always someone who rolls up with a bit of a cough and bloodshot eyes, looking like the previous night’s party had become the day’s punishment. This time, the suspect looked sturdy and road-hardened, and he was to be shepherded along the route by Lucas Euser, a professional cyclist from California, so I didn’t worry about him too much.
After the final team set off, I grabbed a gallon of water and checked my playlist, then settled into my broom wagon, the ringside seat to the worst of the day’s suffering.
The roads around there see more cows than cars. Sections of road were chopped up by deep drainage ditches and plenty of cattle-trampled divots. I felt every one of them during my 13-hour shift in the wagon, while I watched the pristine jerseys of the teams get caked in dirt, dust, mud, dried spit and sweat. I wondered if my minivan would make it through some of the sections.
Like cycling itself, the Prestige means different things to different people. It’s a respite from racing for some, a day to ride hard but to also take a moment to put a foot down and look around. For others it marks high on their list of hardest days, a true test of attrition. Either way, they’re pretty fun.
Driving up the day’s biggest climb, a particularly nasty 16-mile grind, I saw a man walking next to his bike. I pulled up next to him, driving nice and easy. “You ok?” He replied with a grin, “Yeah, I’m just walking it out.” I don’t think I’ve ever heard of someone ‘walking it out’ during the middle of a bike ride before.
But here’s the secret to the whole thing: no matter how long the day on the bike, you never need more than the finish line’s good company, cold beer, and tasty tacos (and maybe some shade) to feel like a king. This was proven true by the bodies strewn in the shadow of the Moots factory, who polished off eight coolers full of beer pretty quickly. There was an air of anticipation for the final team to pull in, our Lanterne Rouge. This team had a score to settle: one of their number, Brett, had been bested by the Gentlemen’s Race in Boulder a few years before.
Next stop is West Virginia and the Appalachian Mountains, where more miles and beers await.
Prestige Colorado Results
|Start Time||Team||Number of Riders||Full Route?||Finish Time||Elapsed Time|
|7:02||Moots / Butter||4||Yes||16:07||9:05|
|7:06||Handlebar Mustache (*)||4||Yes||19:51||12:45|
|7:18||Dirt Disco Dudes||4||Yes||17:50||10:32|
|7:20||Rad Ladies Collective||4||Yes||18:17||10:57|
|7:22||Mosaic Cycles Bespoke Ballers||4||Yes||17:49||10:27|
|7:26||Rocky Mountain Cycling Club (RMCC)||4||No||18:10||10:44|
|7:30||Fast not furious||4||Yes||18:20||10:50|
|7:34||Steamboat Velo+MOOTS+Green Co.||3||Yes||17:58||10:24|
|7:36||Team Party Boyz||4||Yes||16:43||9:07|
|7:40||Fort Collins’ Finest Facial Hairs||4||Yes||18:07||10:27|
|7:46||Team Half Hearted||4||Yes||17:03||9:17|