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Colorado floods swamp bike paths, close businesses

Published September 13, 2013

LONGMONT, CO (BRAIN) — Rains along Colorado's Front Range — from Fort Collins to Denver — eased up a bit Friday morning, but were expected to resume later, adding to already historic flooding in one of the U.S.'s most popular cycling destinations and home to many nationally known retailers, suppliers, advocacy groups, media and professional racers.

The floods have caused two confirmed deaths, with several people missing.

Boulder, Lyons and Longmont appear to be the hardest hit, with virtually all businesses, schools and government offices closed Thursday. Jamestown, a small mountain community that is a very popular weekend ride destination for Boulder cyclists, has been heavily flooded and at least one house there was destroyed, resulting in a fatality. The National Guard on Friday evacuated some Jamestown residents by helicopter. The Guard also used large trucks to evacuate residents of Lyons, where all roads in or out were impassible. 

Many bike shops in the area were closed Thursday and Friday, as was the IMBA office and Bikes Belong office in Boulder. Many bike paths, often located along stream beds, are flooded and will likely show heavy damage when the waters recede. Mountain bike trails and popular road cycling routes, including Four Mile Canyon outside Boulder, Eldorado Springs Drive, South St. Vrain Canyon and the Peak to Peak Highway, have reportedly received significant damage that will likely take months and millions of dollars to repair. 

On Thursday President Obama approved federal aid for disaster recovery efforts. 

Many bike industry members have reported via social media that they are OK, although several report flooding and damge to their homes. Several bike industry members live in an area of downtown Boulder that was evacuated late Thursday. BRAIN will not repeat specific reports from social media until they can be confirmed.

'Everyone safe'

"Everyone I know is safe," Boulder Cycle Sport owner Brandon Dwight told BRAIN in an email Friday. "Businesses are safe. City is a mess. We'll get through it!" 

University Bikes in downtown Boulder opened for business Friday. Owner Doug Emerson said his crew only had to squeegie some water off the sales floor. 

"There was a muddy river running down Pearl (Street, in front of the store) last night, and it jumped the curb, but we only got a little water inside. It's kind of a miracle," Emerson said. He also said that the outdoor velodrome he is helping build in nearby Erie, Colo., suffered little damage from the rain. The velodrome was signifcantly damaged last month by a wind storm.

The nearby Vecchio's and Full Cycle shops in downtown Boulder also were open Friday.

Susan Eastman Walton, who operates the RecoFit compression gear business from the lower level of her North Boulder home, moved all the business's inventory and equipment to a higher level while the basement flooded Thursday. A human chain of neighbors and friends moved the stuff up to the first floor. Then, when the basement filled up to the ceiling tiles, to the second floor.

"We put out the call and total strangers came to help," Walton said. During the move, the windows on the lower level of the house blew in. "I don't even want to go down there and see what it looks like today," she told BRAIN in a phone call Friday. She said she and her family, including husband Hugh Walton, who works for Descente, are fine.

FasCat Coaching, which has its headquarters adjacent to Boulder Cycle Sport in North Boulder, apparently suffered no damage, owner Frank Overton told BRAIN Friday in a Facebook message. "We are closed today and the coaches are working from home. I have reports from neighbors that we did not sustain any flood damage, although it was close. I'll be heading over there soon to survey," Overton wrote.

Boulder resident Nick Legan, with the industry PR and marketing firm Dispatch, said all was well with him Friday. "Plenty of neighbors using sump pumps, but we're dry so far," Legan said.

Ray Keener, a BRAIN columnist and executive director of the Bicycle Product Suppliers Association, said he was "pretty high and dry" at his Boulder home. "Bad flooding a block north (downhill) from us," Keener said in an email Friday.

Velo magazine editor Neal Rogers, who lives in a second-floor condo in downtown Boulder, said he and his property were fine. "I'm one of the fortunate ones. Still, road rides around Boulder won't be the same for a long time," Rogers said. editor Ben Delaney, who lives in South Boulder, said he and his family were fine. "Just a little moating around the house," Delaney said. "A couple blocks away the water was waist-deep last night. You learn a lot about topography with a few million gallons of water moving through the neighborhood."

Interbike plans

Several area bike companies said the flooding is affecting their preparations for next week's Interbike show. As of Friday morning, Fort Collins'-based Niner Bikes' Interbike display was in a warehouse "on the wrong side of the river," Niner marketing director Carla Huckee said. The display was supposed to depart Colorado for Las Vegas on Friday morning, but roads to the warehouse were closed. Niner's bikes were shipped directly from the Eurobike show to Las Vegas, so the company will be able to show them next week, but Huckee was making emergency booth preparations on Friday.

Also in Fort Collins, Canitoe Road's Tom Petrie said he was concerned about the delivery of catalogs and other materials in time for the show. "Our printed catalog is now delayed until Monday PM (Ugh). But otherwise, OK," Petrie said in an email.

CrossVegas promotor Brook Watts, who lives in Longmont, said his warehouse full of race equipment and vehicles flooded Thursday. 

"(I) pulled my company vehicles: truck, trailer and Sprinter out from knee-high water and parked them in my neighborhood.  I ignored a mandatory evac' order yesterday, as did all of my neighbors," Watts wrote in an email to BRAIN Friday. "Got as much event equip. as I could fit in one vehicle, should be sufficient to do the race.  I suspect there's waist-deep water in the warehouse, it's on the banks of St. Vrain (River) and that's a football-field wide.  When I return from Las Vegas I'll assess the damage."

BRAIN's web editor, Steve Frothingham, works from a home office in Longmont, and said the floods have had no direct effect on him or his home. He did say he and his teenaged daughter are going stir crazy and his last-minute CrossVegas training will happen, if it happens at all, on a stationary trainer. 


Twitter user @JaymeMoye posted this photo of a Boulder bike path on Thursday.

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