When the USA Pro Challenge announced that the epic ride through the state of Colorado would not return in 2016 due to a lack of funding, cycling fans keenly felt the blow, as there is a shortage of top-level cycling events in the United States. The race’s cancellation was also a setback for Colorado’s sporting community, as the race had grown into one of the industry’s largest events, with an estimated $130 million economic impact.

Thankfully for cycling enthusiasts, the hole left for a pro-level race in Colorado was quickly filled by the Colorado Classic. Colorado Classic organizers revolutionized the cycling race model by coupling the race with a music festival so people could see the start and finish of the race while rocking out to first-rate musical acts. Thus the Velorama Festival was born.

From August 11 through 14, in addition to the race, the Velorama Festival featured several headliner acts including Wilco, Death Cab for Cutie, the New Pornographers, Saint Motel, and La Santa Cecilia. Held in Denver’s RiverNorth neighborhood, the festival featured a community-focused marketplace, including a Super Flea presented by the Denver Flea, a bike and lifestyle expo and an assortment of food trucks.

Instead of offering the big-name brews you usually find at festivals, Drink RiNo (one of SideCar PR’s pro-bono clients) kept it local as the festival’s beer, wine and cider sponsor, ensuring the area’s best craft beer and wine flowed throughout the weekend.

(SideTip: RiNo has the largest concentration of craft beverage manufacturers in the US, with 15 craft breweries, cideries, urban wineries and distilleries in a one-mile radius. Each weekend the Drink RiNo circulator makes the rounds, allowing you to ride for free and explore all RiNo has to offer!)

Colorado Classic organizers say the first year was successful and they are pleased that the festival component brought new attention to cycling from attendees who may not previously have taken an interest in the sport. Time will tell whether the new model created by the Colorado Classic and Velorama is sustainable, but we sure had a great time this year and look forward to the event next year.

(Image Credit: Colorado Classic)