Police state on the pass
August 28, 2012
The Pro Cycling Challenge – what a great cycling race! The city of Aspen learned from last year’s experience to provide a better bicycle culture atmosphere and much more fun! Thank you, community, for showing organizers how appreciative (and worthy) we are to host one of the world’s legendary mountain cycling races!
I would like to comment on the military-like presence of the Colorado State Patrol (complete with an “assault vehicle designed for crowd control” – it was a bike race, not an Occupy movement ) and especially the stubborn, uninformative U.S. Forest Service reps (two of them) who chased us around the pass from 3 to 7:30 a.m., constantly telling us we weren’t allowed here or there in our VW camper.
Finally, after exhaustion, we parked on the switchback at 8 a.m. and slept for 20 minutes before a rude awakening telling us we could stay but our vehicle had to go. We finally settled in the line of vehicles parked on the side of the road (each one of them disturbing that delicate tundra the Forest Service was concerned with protecting). Meanwhile, no fewer than a dozen the Forest Service “rangers” drove solo up and down the pass in big SUVs and trucks, doing nothing but hassling anyone who tried to park in a highway pull-off area.
Please know that most of the issues on the pass were a result of the Forest Service’s uncommunicative and uncooperative presence! Inconsistent information, no definitive answers to intelligent questions, fascist fear tactics and no common sense or manners.
They treated camping citizens like criminals and used our State Patrol like enforcer errand boys. They turned a switchback of super-excited, conscious, partying cycling fans last year into a scattering of dedicated but nervous aficionado cheerers this year. We would be wise to learn that their presence and participation in our “Queen” stage only demotes it to “jester” status.
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The Forest Service would be wise to study Tour de France policies, where camping fans set up for weeks for a mere glimpse of the race. After all, the French have nearly a century of experience, whereas the Forest Service acts more like stubborn, spoiled children!
One final idea: Organizers, can we call it the Tour of Colorado? The USA Pro Cycling Challenge is a world-class race (as evident by the world-class riders who compete), but its title is so ambiguous. I am so proud of this state and this race. Tour of Colorado, I look forward to next year. (And please leave the Forest Service out of it!)