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Colorado fires force evacuations, tour re-route

Published June 13, 2013

BLACK FOREST, CO (BRAIN) — Three wildfires along Colorado's Front Range so far appear to have had no direct effect on the bicycle industry or retailers, although — in a repeat of last year's June fires — the final stage of the week-long Ride the Rockies tour is expected to be re-routed due to fire and smoke danger. Some employees at SRAM's facility in Colorado Springs have been evacuated from their homes due to fire danger.

The fires also are endangering mountain biking trails, causing cyclists across the region to curtail riding and training because of the smoke, and putting many residents on edge.

Pro racer and longtime Colorado Springs resident Michael Creed is organizing an auction of bike gear to benefit victims of the fire.

Fires are burning near Cañon City (southwest of Colorado Springs), Black Forest (north of Colorado Springs, on the east side of 1-25) and on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. 

The Cañon City fire has Ride the Rockies organizers planning a re-route for Friday's ride, which originally was planned to go from Salida to Cañon City, over the iconic Royal Gorge Bridge on U.S. 50. That route would pass directly through the fire zone, and organizers told The Denver Post they are negotiating a new route with state safety officials. The Post said "only the finish in Cañon City (was) certain."

Last year, the tour's final stage was planned to pass more or less directly through the High Park fire on its way to a finish in Fort Collins. It was re-routed but still finished in Fort Collins. Ride the Rockies, held for 28 years with a different route each year, has about 2,000 riders.

The Black Forest fire has already consumed 15,000 acres and several hundred homes and was reported at 20 percent contained Thursday morning. Several area state parks with mountain bike trails have likely suffered some fire damage.

The closest bike retailer to the Black Forest fire is Ascent Cycling, on Stetson Hills Boulevard. The store has been unaffected by the fire so far, said co-owner Patrick Cross Thursday.

"As of right now people have  been pretty normal, although I know of some racers and friends of the shop who are displaced from their homes right now," Cross said.

The store is organizing a food donation drive to benefit victims of the fire at a mountain bike race the store is sponsoring this weekend, he said.

Rotor Bike Components' U.S. offices are just south and west of the Black Forest fire, Rotor's Amber Chambers told BRAIN Thursday. So far the office is outside the evacuation area.

"It's just very smoky here now, a total haze," Chambers said. Rotor moved to the area just weeks before last year's Waldo Canyon fire broke out. Last year the company was ordered to evacuate its facility but it was not damaged. Chambers said one of the company's sponsored racers, Fernando Rivera, has been ordered to evacuate his home because of the fire.

Several employees of SRAM's facility in Colorado Springs, which is very near Rotor, have been evacuated from their homes, said John Dawson, SRAM's MTB sports marketing manager.

"Right now we have multiple employees evacuated from the areas affected," Dawson said. "Haven’t heard of anyone losing their house yet, but it’s still a serious fire.

"Air conditions are really bad with visible smoke hanging like fog this morning around the office and vicinity. Hopefully the winds will calm down today and allow the firefighters to get it under control.

The fire in Rocky Mountain National Park is the smallest of the three at about 600 acres, but was zero percent contained Thursday morning. All park roads and facilities are open but many hiking trails in the park are closed.

Carmichael Training Systems headquarters are in Colorado Springs, far south of the fire, and no staff or coaches have lost homes, the company said Thursday on its Facebook page.

"We are fine and continuing to work with athletes, and we've opened our facility at Highway 24 and 21st Street to any local endurance athletes who are looking for a place to train indoors due to road closures and air quality," CTS said.

Pro racer and longtime Colorado Springs resident Michael Creed is organizing an auction of bike gear to benefit victims of the fire. A similar effort last year raised $35,000 for victims of the Waldo Canyon fire. Creed, racing at the Nature Valley Grand Prix in Minnesota this week, announced on Twitter Thursday that he would re-launch the auction. Lance Armstrong was among those who replied via Twitter that he would participate. Creed told BRAIN that donors can contact him at or (719)232-4842.

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