Collegiate cycling race a no-go for monument

The National Park Service last week rejected a proposal for a collegiate bike race over Colorado National Monument.

The proposal by Colorado Mesa University’s bicycle racing team would “prevent park visitors from readily accessing 19 scenic overlooks and 14 trail heads along Historic Rim Rock Drive for upwards of five hours,” acting Superintendent Michelle Wheatley wrote to cycling team coach Jack Harbottle on Jan. 26.

The race proposal also would keep Glade Park residents and commercial vehicles from their main access up Monument Road for more than three hours, Wheatley wrote.

“Because your proposed race is in conflict with the National Park Service’s policies and regulations, we are denying this proposal,” she said.

Colorado Mesa University had sought a two-lap race to be conducted March 25 with about 150 participants and 10 support vehicles.

The Park Service last year rejected a professional bike race across Rim Rock Drive, citing threats by spectators to the monument and its scenic values, as well as by television coverage from low-flying helicopters and other disturbances.

The Colorado Mesa University proposal called for a rolling closure of east-to-west traffic along Rim Rock Drive and noted that races “would be on the honor system to stay in their lane.”

The possibility of conflict with oncoming traffic at race speeds “would pose a significant conflict with serving the visiting public, protecting wildlife and would present a clear danger to public health and safety,” Wheatley wrote.


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