Two weeks after professional cyclists race through Boulder and up Boulder Canyon, some riders in the 10th Annual Buffalo Bicycle Classic will follow much of the same route, the most mountainous section of Stage 6 of the 2012 USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
The pros ride through on Aug. 25 and the Elevations Credit Union Buffalo Bicycle Classic is scheduled for Sept. 9. The classic raises scholarship funds for high-performing University of Colorado Boulder students who qualify for financial aid.
Since 2003, the Buffalo Bicycle Classic has raised more than $1.6 million for scholarships and has funded more than 730 scholarships. The event is the single largest source of scholarships for the College of Arts and Sciences.
Scholarship recipients are selected based on grade-point average and financial need. They cannot apply for the scholarship and don’t know they are being considered until they learn they have won. All net proceeds go toward scholarships, and a portion of the registration fee is tax-deductible.
The classic is debuting a 100-mile “century” route this year called the Buff Epic. The epic century ride will start on campus, ascend Boulder Canyon to Nederland, follow the Peak to Peak Highway past Ward, descend St. Vrain Canyon to Lyons and then head east to Erie and back to Boulder.
For the Buff Epic, Boulder Canyon’s westbound lane will be closed to traffic from 7 a.m. to approximately 9:30 a.m. The fastest male and female climbers who ascend a 13.5-mile segment (from the base of Boulder Canyon to Barker Reservoir) will win polka-dotted jerseys, signifying their climbing prowess.
Times will be measured by individual riders’ GPS devices and recorded on Strava.com. Ride organizers emphasize that while there is the canyon competition, the Buffalo Bicycle Classic is not a race but a ride for those of all strength and ability levels.
The 2012 Buffalo Bicycle Classic also includes all of its five traditional courses: a flatter 100-mile ride, now called the Foothills Century, plus its 70-mile, 50-mile and 35-mile routes, and the 14-mile Little Buff family-friendly community ride.
The 2012 Little Buff is co-sponsored by the Center for People With Disabilities. The center is recruiting participants -- including those who ride hand-powered bikes, recumbent cycles and blind riders who could ride on tandem bicycles -- according to Ian Engle, the center’s executive director and an avid rider of a hand-powered bike.
“There are a lot of major athletes around the Boulder area who use adaptive equipment, and we work with a lot of folks who would love to showcase our talents and abilities using adaptive equipment and people who might not otherwise be able to participate in such an event,” Engle said.
The Center for People with Disabilities is promoting the ride as a “fully inclusive community event.” It is offering scholarships for disabled riders who can’t afford the registration fee, and it is offering to provide adaptive equipment for riders who need it.
Engle said he wants the disabled riders to be “pity busters” who are proud to participate.
“We want to say ‘Thank you for the opportunity to give back,’ ” Engle said. “When we include people who are on the margins of our community it strengthens the moral fabric of our community as a whole.”
“This year, more than ever, the Buffalo Bicycle Classic will accommodate riders of every ability,” said Todd Gleeson, former dean of the CU-Boulder College of Arts and Sciences and one of the ride’s founders. Gleeson, a professor of integrative physiology, directs CU-Boulder’s new Health Professions Residential Academic Program.
For more information on the Buffalo Bicycle Classic visit http://www.buffalobicycleclassic.com. To see a CU Foundation video of scholarship recipients discussing what the scholarship meant to them go to http://youtu.be/Pj1l_ihaA8w. To watch CU Cycling team members ride a time trial of the Boulder Canyon segment of the Buff Epic go to http://youtu.be/Pj1l_ihaA8w. To see the fastest times so far on the Buffalo Bicycle Classic Boulder Canyon climb go to http://app.strava.com/segments/1822933.