If you race it, they will come—and help fund improvements to our world-class trails. That’s the idea behind the Pikes Peak APEX, the biggest mountain biking race Colorado Springs has ever hosted. The four-day stage race runs Sept. 24-27. With the largest prize purse in North America for 2020, $50,000 split between the top men and women, the multistage race is drawing pro riders from around the country. Of course, some local pros will be happy to claim some earnings on their home trails, and the race is open to amateurs as well.
“I’ve always enjoyed multi-day races and having this one so close to home on trails I get to ride frequently is pretty great,” said Katie Compton, local professional mountain bike racer and 15-time U.S. Cyclocross Champ, in a press release. “The stages are challenging and will make for some hard racing, but the views will make the suffering a little more manageable.”
That’s not all that’s in it for locals. Through the APEX, the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance (PPORA) hopes to both showcase and improve the outdoor offerings of Olympic City USA. “We launched the Pikes Peak APEX to not only strengthen economic impact in the region, but also showcase the Pikes Peak region’s outdoor recreation and position it as an internationally recognized endurance sports destination,” said Becky Leinweber, executive director of PPORA.
Through Apex, PPORA has created a Stewardship Fund, which recently allocated $6,000 for trail work in Palmer Park. “Park and trail use and the desire to play outdoors has grown in our region,” Leinweber said. “With the pandemic, even more people have come to value outdoor recreation for its mental and physical health benefits. PPORA is excited to launch this Fund, collaborate with terrific partners and make a direct impact to local trails that are so important to our community.”
The majority of this year’s funds were allocated to the City of Colorado Springs Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services, which will secure and direct a professional trail contractor for work in Palmer Park. In addition, the Fund allocated donations to the Guardians of Palmer Park (Friends Group), Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates (MWTA) and Rocky Mountain Field Institute (RMFI) for their continued trail work in Palmer Park and support of the Pikes Peak APEX.
Race festivities will look different than organizers originally envisioned, due to COVID-19. Crowds will be minimized and racers disbursed to comply with state and local health guidelines and regulations.
While the Pikes Peak APEX was designed to create as little disturbance as possible to vehicle traffic and businesses, the event will impact some regular trail usage, including Palmer Park, where trails will be closed to nonparticipants most of the day on Thursday, Sept. 24. The Rampart Range area and Bear Creek Park will be impacted from Sept. 25-27, with uphill traffic disallowed on Captain Jack’s trail Saturday and Sunday during racing. Spectators are encouraged to watch and cheer from distanced positions along the trail loops.
Pikes Peak APEX Stages and Courses
Stage 1: Palmer Park
Thursday, Sept. 24
11ish mile loop through Palmer Park with approximately 1000 feet of elevation gain and descent
Stage 2: Rampart
Friday, Sept. 25
50 miles (38 miles timed) from Garden of the Gods, up Rampart Range Road, around Rampart Range Reservoir and back
5,500 feet of elevation gain
Stage 3: Gold Camp and Jones Park
Saturday, Sept. 26
38 miles (33.1 miles timed) from Bear Creek Park, up Gold Camp Road and Old Stage Road through Frosty Park, down the New Jones Park Trail and Captain Jack’s to Gold Camp Road
4,980 feet of elevation gain
Stage 4: High Drive
Sunday, Sept. 27
22.8 miles (17.8 miles timed) from Bear Creek Park, up High Drive, down Captain Jack’s, up Columbine Trail and Buckhorn, down Captain Jack’s to Gold Camp Road
3,750 feet of elevation gain
Get all the details at pikespeakapex.com