The mountain cycling experience in Rwanda draws similarities to certain parts of Colorado.
“It is incredibly hilly. There are hills everywhere you go. It is very beautiful; it is very safe,” said Kimberly Coats, who lived in Rwanda for eight years and serves as Team Rwanda Cycling’s director of marketing and logistics.
And the road cycling scene is similar to Denver in that cyclists have to jockey for position with other users of the road.
“They have a really good road system,” Coats said. “It is kind of difficult to ride just because the roads are crowded. I call it combat cycling. You have to avoid the goats and the sheep and the people.”
Team Rwanda Cycling will be one of 31 teams competing in the Colorado Classic later this month.
Featuring stages in Colorado Springs, Breckenridge and Denver, the Colorado Classic is designated as a 2.Hors Categorie (HC) race. HC is a French term for a score that determines the difficulty of a climb. It is measured by distance, elevation change and maximum elevation. The Colorado Classic’s 2.HC rating is the highest outside of World Tour races.
The race will feature 15 women’s teams and 16 men’s teams. Cyclists will come from Colorado and other areas of the country and the world to participate in the race, which takes place Aug. 10 to 13.
Velorama Colorado will tie an entertainment experience into the Denver stages of the Colorado Classic.
RiNo Art District is getting ready to combine things that people in Colorado love: beer, food and cycling. The neighborhood will be home to two stages of the first Colorado Classic professional cycling race, as well as the Velorama Festival. The three-day festival will begin Aug. 11 and it is designed to give professional cycling a spotlight.
“Coloradans’ love of cycling is matched — and maybe even exceeded — by their passion for great food, beer and music,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a statement. “Velorama Colorado is the kind of creative approach that Colorado is known for.”
The event will see music performances from artists like Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie. There will be a bike expo and food, beer, wine and cider from local vendors and craft producers.
The event has caught the eye of NBA Hall-of-Famer Bill Walton, a regular attendee at Colorado cycling events who has previously expressed his passion for the sport.
“Denver and Colorado are innovators, whether it’s celebrating what makes this place special, launching a new technology or re-inventing a bike race. I expect nothing but the same from Velorama Colorado,” Walton said in a statement.
Team Rwanda Cycling’s appearance in the Colorado Classic marks the first time it has participated in a Union Cycliste Internationale-sanctioned race in the United States of this stature.
“There is a reason there is a cycling culture in Rwanda besides transportation,” Coats said. “These guys are heroes in their country.”
“We’re coming here because we earned it,” Coats continued. “When you say ‘Rwanda,’ most people immediately say ‘genocide.’ For our riders, when you say ‘Rwanda,’ it is important that you say ‘cycling.'”