Big cheers along route
MINTURN, Colorado – The sun was warm and Main Street was dry when Jens Voigt blew through town on his way to a big win in Stage 4 of the USA Pro Challenge. If Voigt had been much faster, he’d have ridden in the rain.
While Minturn was set up to host a big party, the crowd was still small around 1 p.m., just as clouds started to gather. An afternoon shower then drove much of the crowd into shops and restaurants downtown.
“I was kind of hoping for more people,” Sticky Fingers Baker co-owner Sage Pierson said just before the sky cleared. As the clouds cleared and the cyclists approached, a crowd started to gather at the dogleg left Voigt slipped through without seeming to slow.
While the town wasn’t packed, it was bustling with cyclists, many riding through, others stopping for a break from the day’s ride.
Betsy and Dave Martin, of Boulder, were in a group following the tour since it left Durango Monday. The couple is familiar with Minturn, but stopped into Sticky Fingers for coffee and snack before headed to the Beaver Creek finish line. The couple said they’d been enjoying riding the route the racers were following.
Laura Sellards of Edwards said being on the same roads as the racers is one of the big attractions of cycle racing.
“It’s just a great sport,” Sellards said. “You can watch it and do it, too.”
Sellards described herself as a “big fan,” adding she planned to go to the rest of the challenge stages this week.
Lee and Evelyn Altheimer, of Louisville, have been following the action, too. The Altheimers are serious fans, and had come up this week just to catch the race. The couple had checked out Beaver Creek Wednesday, and quickly decided to watch the racers zip by in Minturn instead.
The Altheimers hadn’t been to Minturn before, and were clearly taken with the place. They spent much of their time at Sticky Fingers waiting for the riders, watching the race online with those who were there with computers. The Altheimers know the racers by name, and were clearly thrilled that Voigt pedaled his way to a dominant win.
Tom Couri and a friend were on a camping trip this week. They’d read about the race, and decided to break camp and come into town.
“It’s a cool little town,” Couri said. “The businesses seem to open their doors to people, and the market’s great.”
Anticipating a big crowd, organizers of the town’s Saturday market set up a smaller-scale event Thursday, and the parking lot between the Minturn Country Club and Magusto’s was bustling with various vendor tents.
Chris Johnson of Minnie Beasley’s Cookies said he comes to the Minturn Market from Denver every weekend. Business had been kind of slow, he said, adding that he’d cover his costs for the trip.
“And, I get to watch the race,” Johnson said.
As the riders came through town, Johnson was on the Minturn Country Club’s roof with his camera.
Tim Hosking is Saturday market newcomer with his business, Brown Dog Antlers. Hosking said he came Thursday with a lighter load than usual.
“I didn’t think we’d get a Saturday crowd with the bike race,” he said. “But it’s always good to get your name out there.”
At the booth next door to Minnie Beasley’s, Holly Cole said she’d had a chance to wander around to the other vendor booths, which was a treat.
“We’re usually so busy you can’t wander around on Saturdays,” Cole said. “This way you get to meet everybody.”
And people were having a good time, whether they were on the Country Club roof or lining Main Street, waiting for the racers. People were checking their computers, providing updates about Voigt’s location to others as he cleared Tennessee Pass, then Battle Mountain, and, finally, the hairpin turns at the south end of town.
After the parade of fast-moving cyclists and honking, cowbell-rattling support vehicles had come and gone, the Altheimers got ready to go. They’d parked just outside the Saloon, so they were able to get away quickly.
“I’m really glad we came here,” Lee said.
Business Editor Scott N. Miller can be reached at 970-748-2930 or email@example.com.