Colorado Mesa University to keep pedaling for cycling race over monument

Colorado Mesa University is still hoping to persuade Colorado National Monument officials that it can conduct a bicycling race on the monument with minimal effect on other visitors.

The interim superintendent of the monument last month ruled out the university’s proposal for the race on March 25.

Colorado Mesa University sought a two-lap race on Rim Rock Drive with about 150 collegiate participants and 10 support vehicles. Interim Superintendent Michelle Wheatley rejected the proposal Jan. 26, saying the race would “prevent park visitors from readily accessing 19 scenic overlooks and 14 trail heads along historic Rim Rock Drive for upwards of five hours.”

University officials want to talk with Wheatley, said Derek Wagner, CMU’s director of strategic initiatives.

“We think the issues she raised in denial (of the proposed race) were the result of miscommunication,” Wagner said Friday.

He wrote Feb. 5 to Wheatley, asking to clarify two issues in particular: the “yellow-line rule” and what are termed “rolling enclosures.”

The yellow-line rule is what it seems to be, with the provision that any racer seen crossing a yellow line into the opposing-traffic lane would be disqualified by a referee on a motorcycle.

A rolling enclosure refers to closure of the portion of the road occupied by racers. The road is closed when the first rider passes and remains closed until the last rider passes. In a rolling enclosure, which lasts 10 to 20 minutes, cyclists have use of the entire road. Traffic can continue as normal behind the last rider.

“As you can tell, by combining the two management tools, we will establish the best of both worlds,” Wagner wrote to Wheatley. “The yellow-line rule will ensure that only the traffic traveling in the same direction of the race will be affected. Further, those vehicles that are affected will be impacted by a 10- to 20-minute delay — at the most.”

Wagner wrote he hopes to sit down with Wheatley as soon as possible “because time is of the essence.”

The CMU race was the second to be rejected for Colorado National Monument. The National Park Service last year rejected a professional bike race across Rim Rock Drive, citing the threat to the monument and its scenic values by spectators and television coverage from low-flying helicopters,

A new monument superintendent, Lisa Eckert, is due to assume duties this month.


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