Velo­rama Colorado a bi­cy­cle and mu­sic ex­trav­a­ganza

The Denver Post - - LIFE & CULTURE - By Dy­lan Owens

The dizzy­ing whirl of con­certs, food and ac­com­pa­ny­ing Velo­rama Colorado makes you won­der: Is there a pro-cy­cling race un­der there?

In­deed, the Aug. 11-13 fes­ti­val’s rai­son d’être is the Colorado Clas­sic, the lat­est at­tempt at mak­ing stage­based bi­cy­cle rac­ing suc­ceed in Colorado. Where races like the Coors Clas­sic and USA Pro Chal­lenge fell off, the three-day Velo­rama Colorado hopes it can keep peo­ple’s in­ter­est longer than the minute or so it takes a throng of cy­clists to whizz past the gallery on a cir­cuit. Even bet­ter, thanks to splashy mu­si­cal acts — head­liner Wilco is pop­u­lar enough to have sprouted a mu­sic fes­ti­val of its own in the band’s home­town of Chicago — the event prom­ises to pull fans who think a pelo­ton is some Dar­winian term for a pel­i­can skele­ton.

If that’s you, don’t fret. Be­low, find our primer on what to know about Velo­rama Colorado when it rolls up to Den­ver’s RiNo neigh­bor­hood this weekend.

Get­ting There

The fes­ti­val grounds ex­tend from Wal­nut Street be­tween 28th and 35th streets to the train tracks north of Rock­ies park­ing lot B, where the mu­sic stage is set up. There’s a pub­lic park­ing lot nearby the fes­ti­val be­tween Blake and Wal­nut streets west of Broadway, for both bikes and cars. (A sec­ond bike valet is sta­tioned in sec­tion A of the Colorado Rock­ies lot A.) But in the spirit of the fes­ti­val, two wheels are bet­ter than four. Boul­der-based bik­ing col­lec­tive Peo­pleForBikes is or­ga­niz­ing daily cruiser rides to Velo­rama Colorado from north, east, south and west Den­ver all weekend. The rides de-

part from Berke­ley Lake Park, Sloan’s Lake Park, Wash­ing­ton Park and City Park on Friday at 4 p.m.; Satur­day at 9:30 a.m. and 4 p.m.; and Sun­day at 9:30 a.m. Bonus: Those who sign up for the cruiser ride are au­to­mat­i­cally en­tered to win one of two Spot Brand bi­cy­cles. Don’t own a bike? Take one of Den­ver’s shared B-cy­cle bikes there. The three clos­est sta­tions are 2490 N. Broadway St., 2751 Larimer St. and 3000 Lawrence St.

Food and drink

Like any mu­sic fes­ti­val worth its salty, de­li­cious french fries (we’re look­ing at you, Spud Na­tion), Velo­rama Colorado will be hum­ming with food trucks — 26 of them, to be ex­act, serv­ing up just about ev­ery kind of grub you can imag­ine. For ex­am­ple, lo­cal tube-meat fa­vorite Biker Jim’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, The Sweet Cow Moo Mo­bile (and an as­sort­ment of other ice cream par­lors on wheels), and Su­per Heady Tacos — which lives up to the name — will all be on site. There’s not one but two juice trucks (Real Deal Juices and Pressed Juice Daily), an of­fer­ing from the fruit-for­ward Sun­shine Bowls and the healthy­headed Keen­wah, Co., among oth­ers, to prime those pedal-happy calves.

Like base­ball, bi­cy­cle rac­ing is a spec­ta­tor sport. That’s not nec­es­sar­ily a code word for “bor­ing”; it just means it calls for some pa­tience — and, ideally, the proper drink. Velo­rama Colorado has teamed up with Drink RiNo, a lo­cal trade as­so­ci­a­tion for craft adult bev­er­age pro­duc­ers in the neigh­bor­hood, to pour the neigh­bor­hood’s proud­est quaffs. Even the hardi­est snobs wouldn’t turn their waxed mus­taches up at the beer se­lec­tion, which fea­tures RiNo fa­vorites like Our Mu­tual Friend Brew­ing, Ra­tio Beer­works and Black­shirt Brew­ing. For you gluten-haters, Stem Ciders and C Squared Ciders will be serv­ing up boozy ap­ple bev­er­ages all weekend. If grapes are your game, check out the brand new Bigsby’s Folly Craft Win­ery as well as old fa­vorite In­fi­nite Mon­key The­o­rem Ur­ban Win­ery, where Lance Armstrong will be posted up from Thurs­day to Sun­day to live-stream his cy­cle-cen­tric pod­cast, “Stages.” Se­ri­ously.

Things to do

Mu­sic: Book­ing any one of the alt-rock groups The New Pornog­ra­phers, Death Cab For Cutie or Wilco as a head­liner would have been enough to tell you Velo­rama Colorado is se­ri­ous about its live mu­sic. In­stead, it booked all three. Fac­tor that in with a hand­ful of other sturdy rock acts from home (Ten­nis, Rob Drabkin) and far (Saint Mo­tel, La Santa Ce­cilia), and you’ve got a ros­ter that’s as am­bi­tious (and Baby Boomer-slanted) as any of Den­ver’s cur­rent re­gional mu­sic fes­ti­vals. The shows start Friday at 6 p.m. with La Santa Ce­cilia and wraps up on Sun­day evening with Old 97’s. For the bonk-proof partiers among us, a hand­ful of fes­ti­val-sanc­tioned af­ter-par­ties await at venues near the fes­ti­val. Los An­ge­les rock quar­tet the Shel­ters play Globe Hall on Friday night and a buzzy set by Wilco side-project the Au­tumn De­fense will echo through Erico Mo­tors­ports on Satur­day.

See the full list of af­ter­party events at velo­rama­col­

Shop­ping: What’s a bi­cy­cle-race-turned-mu­sicfes­ti­val with­out a gi­ant flea mar­ket? Velo­rama Colorado will host a su­per-sized ver­sion of the Den­ver Flea, the lo­cal ar­ti­sans’ gussiedup take on the swap meet that has taken shop­pers by storm since it kicked off three years ago. The one at the fes­ti­val will be the largest ver­sion of the mar­ket yet, with more than 200 ven­dors, in­clud­ing lo­cal jew­eler Sto­ry­telling Strands, print­maker Bun­ga­loo, al­paca prod­uct pur­vey­ors (wrist warm­ers, fin­ger pup­pets, chul­los -you name it) Shabby Al­paca and many more.

Bike rac­ing: Lest you for­get, Velo­rama Colorado is the start­ing and fin­ish line for the third and fourth stage of the Colorado Clas­sic bi­cy­cle race. On Satur­day, the men’s 18 six­man teams from around the world will take off from the fes­ti­val grounds for the Peak-to-Peak high­way cir­cuit at 1:30 p.m., and should fin­ish some­time around 4:40 p.m. On Sun­day, they’ll push off at 12:20 p.m. for a lap around City Park and are ex­pected to re­turn around 3 p.m. (The women’s teams are not rac­ing in Den­ver.)

There are a hand­ful of am­a­teur races through­out the weekend, in­clud­ing three fixed-gear bike races (Friday, start­ing at 8:40 p.m.), a Battle of the Badge race that pits Den­ver’s po­lice of­fi­cers ver­sus its fire­fight­ers (Satur­day at 5:15 p.m.), and a pedal-hop­per race, pit­ting sev­eral of those 16-tops on wheels you see ped­al­ing at a crawl from bar to bar (Friday at 10:30 p.m.). For those look­ing to en­ter in a low­er­stakes com­pe­ti­tion, the adult “High Rollers” tri­cy­cle race closes out Satur­day night on a goofy note. Best of all, the only thing you need to bring is your shame­less need to win: The fes­ti­val will pro­vide the trikes.

For the kids: If you’re the team leader of a pack of lit­tle ones, there’s plenty of fun to be had from be­tween the train­ing wheels. On Satur­day, your bike tykes can ride Den­ver’s Colorado Clas­sic cir­cuit in es­teemed com­pany when Mayor Han­cock leads kids around the cri­terium start­ing at Wal­nut and 31st streets at 9 a.m. But if you have to pick one day, go Sun­day. The fes­ti­val’s fam­ily-fo­cused fi­nal day kicks off at 9 a.m. with a teens-and-un­der race around the cri­terium. If that’s too in­tense, you can join the fam­ily ride around the cri­terium at 10:30 a.m. For the youn­gins who like com­pe­ti­tion but haven’t mas­tered the art of ped­al­ing, the kids’ strider race hits the cri­terium at 11:20 a.m., no reg­is­tra­tion re­quired.

Pro­vided by the Colorado Clas­sic

The fes­ti­val dou­bles as a start and fin­ish line for the Colorado Clas­sic.

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