In the saddle: A ghost of the Coors Classic
August 23, 2011
ASPEN – The return of professional road cycling to Aspen Wednesday will give me the chance to reacquaint myself with an old friend. I rescued my 1987 Coors International Bicycle Classic T-shirt from an obscure corner of the attic Monday. I wore the heck out of it back in the day, but sometime after the Coors Classic folded in 1988 the shirt lost some of its luster.
It appears I decided to put it in storage before time and wear-and-tear got the best of it. The collar is starting to fray and the colors are a bit faded, but it still a classic shirt. You used to see a bunch of them in Aspen in the late 1980s. I bet a few survived and will resurface Wednesday, when the racers in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge pull into town.
The shirt is distinctive because of the pink, abstract forms of five cyclists on a green background with a yellow frame and lettering. That colorful and eye-catching design is contained in what was once a deep-blue shirt. The yellow lettering has the distinctive “Coors” in cursive writing with International Bicycle Classic standing out. Below the biker design are the names of the stage stops on that year’s tour: Hilo, San Francisco, Sacramento, Reno, Grand Junction, Aspen, Vail, Copper Mountain, Estes Park, Boulder and Denver.
I remember Aspen was pretty packed for the race, at least for an event back then.
My wife and I watched the race from Galena and Cooper, if my memory serves me well, and were struck by how fast the racers made the corner. Aspen had bike racing fever after the success of favorite son Alexi Grewal, who won the road racing gold medal in the 1984 Olympics, and American Greg LeMond’s victory in the Tour de France in 1986. It was a bit anti-climatic when Raul Alcala, a Mexican rider on the 7-Eleven Cycling Team, won the Coors Classic in 1987.
My old Coors Classic shirt won’t survive too many more spins through the washing machine, but it wouldn’t be right to leave it tucked away Wednesday either.