Back In The Day At The Coors Classic

Posted: October 18, 2010 in Bike Stories

Once again I date myself.  Yes, I am old enough to have followed the Red Zinger, which became the Coor’s Classic bicycle stage race in Colorado.

The really old dudes, like Jack Earley, call it the Zinger (yea, the tea company sponsored it).  I call it the Coor’s.

This race was so much fun to attend.  In the early 80’s my friend Steve Tilford was the national champion at MTB and cyclocross.  He also was a seriously good pro for the Raleigh team.

Many summers I made my way to Colorado to hang out with Steve and his teammates – Andy Hampsten, Thurlow Rogers, Roy Knickman and many others.  I actually bought a Raleigh 753 frame built in Nottingham England from Andy Hampsten.  Yeah, the same Andy who won the Giro d’Italia.  and, yeah, I still have the bike.  Andy needed gas money.

One of my favorite stories is from 1985.  Bernard Hinault had just won the Tour de France with Greg Lemond’s help.  The La Vie Claire team came to Colorado in support of Greg.  Andy Hampsten was the big hope from the Levi’s Raleigh team, having just won a stage in the Giro d’Italia. It was going to be a HUGE show down.  The Levi’s Raleigh team and half of Colorado was pulling for Andy and the rest for LeMond.

Everyone knew where the race would be won or lost on a mountain stage from Golden up to Ward and Nederland and in to Boulder on highway 6.  This was the showdown.

Out in Colorado before the race started, Steve, Roy, Thurlow, Bob Roll, Andy and me all took off from Golden to ride the stage.  The team practiced setting up Andy to launch his attack on Hinault and LeMond. My job in the practice was to act like a big sprinter who would immediately get dropped.  I hung on for dear life, but OMG these guys were sooo damn fast.  I was the first one to pop, but watched as Andy popped everyone else up the road.  Funny, but I remembered Bob Roll as a goof, as opposed to an incredibly funny and brilliant commentator.  I do remember riding into Boulder as my speedometer tipped 65 mph.  Sixty-five feels like a million on one-inch bicycle tires.

The actual stage began in the Coor’s Brewery parking lot in Golden.  Despite my allegiance to Andy and the Levi’s Raleigh team, I couldn’t help but to ask Hinault for an autograph.  He was an ass.  Greg was very excited the morning of the big stage and we had a nice chat about racing le Tour.  Earlier in the year, I had attended a cycling camp with Greg and Steve Bauer.  I think he may sort have remembered me.

The attacks came early.  Tilford’s job was to drive the pace early and very hard.  He was great.  Andy launched his attack.  He was valiant.  Honestly, I do not remember exactly what happened after this, but Andy did not make up enough time on LeMond, who went on to win the overall general classification.

But, I was there man and practically helped to almost help Andy win.  Or something like that.  It surely was fun to be a legitimite hanger-on back in the day.




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