A Q&A with the COBRAS and Karen Hornbostel Time Trial Series

By Bill Plock

March 14th, 2023–You know it’s Spring in the Colorado Cycling scene when the Karen Hornbostel Time Trail Series kicks off. This year marks the 32nd season for this storied series that kicks off March 29th. We talked with Larry Potter of the COBRAS to learn some history and find out what’s new for 2023!

First off if you don’t know what the genesis of the COBRAS name is; Colorado Bicycle Racing Association for Seniors (COBRAS!)

Learn more about the organization and the people who bring you this iconic Colorado event–on newly paved roads this year!

1. Why was Cobras started? Was there a void in bike racing that was leaving seniors out?

The Colorado Bicycle Racing Association for Seniors (COBRAS) cycling team was founded in 1993 by Herman Ponder, an accomplished racer, and Frank Schneider, a beginning racer as a developmental/racing club focused on individuals who love the sport of cycling and who already race or are interested in learning to race. 

At the time there were not any clubs that catered to the over 39-year-old racers, just younger 18–39-year-old racers. This presented an opportunity for a club that focused on older racers who race or were interested in racing.

Over time the racer community changed with more racers who are in the senior categories. For the 2023 KHMTT over 65% of the registered racers are over 40 or older.

A few years ago, the COBRAS opened their membership criteria to include any person over 18 years old. At the time, COBRAS officially changed their name from Colorado Bicycle Racing Association for Seniors to just “COBRAS”.

The club today focuses on individuals who currently or previously raced or just enjoyed being with those who just enjoy the sport. The club has added several social events during the year , performs various community projects, and promotes the Karen Hornbostel Memorial Time Trial series at Cherry Creek (KHMTT). 

The majority of the funds earned from the KHMTT are donated to various not profits serving the cycling community including Bicycle Colorado.


Photo by Ryan Muncy

2. When was the first KHMTT

The race started in 1991 and was originally held near downtown Denver, then moved to Cherry Creek State Park, and was then known as the Cherry Creek Time Trial Series (which several old timers still to this day refer to the KHMTT as the CCTT). The COBRAS have been the promoter of the KHMTT since the early days of the series.

3.How did Karen become so beloved to the Cobras to name the series after her?

Karen was a beloved member of the racing community in the Denver area who passed away in 2006 at the age of 54 from breast cancer.  She was loved by many close cyclist friends and cancer survivors.

Her legacy is that she developed a program for cancer victims and survivors to be able to stay fit and exercise when cancer patients were told to go home and rest. Not Karen. Her program is still used today and is now known as the Cancer Fitness Institute (CFI); a recipient of donations from KHMTT.

For more information about Karen and CFI, go to https://khmtt.com/remembering-karen-hornbostel/

4. Tell us more about the COBRAS club? 

The COBRAS have about 40 members who race and love the weekly rides we offer. The COBRAS offers a weekly no-drop Saturday ride and a Wednesday fast ride.  Both are open to members and nonmembers as well.   The club sends out weekly ride notices with the meeting location, time, and route with mileage, elevation gain, and a map using Ride with GPS.

5. What’s new in 2023 for KHMTT

After years of working with Cherry Creek State Park, they have finally repaved the worse roads on the east and south sides of the park. We are very pleased that they have made the course much safer and more comfortable to race on. 

The only unsafe part of the course was the turnaround on the west side of the park using Lake Loop Road.  The road has 2-3 inch cracks that we don’t want racers to ride over any longer.

This year the COBRAS have modified the course to a 180 turnaround and not use the Lake Loop Road. There will be two certified flaggers at the turnaround to control vehicle traffic and two marshals to warn racers they are approaching the turnaround point, and a marshal at the turnaround so that racers know exactly where to turn.

We have improved the Show and Go program that allows a racer to reserve a start time then only must pay for races they participate in. 

Our First Timer program is back as well offering someone who has never raced to try it out for a total of $20.

Other minor changes are that the start time intervals are now 30 seconds instead of the previous 20 seconds. This allows for fewer start times but keeps the density of the starts tighter, reducing gaps in the starts.

6. Talk about the role KHMTT, maybe Bicycle Colorado played in getting the roads re-paved

The COBRAS meet with CCSP management at least twice a year to talk about how the series can continue to have the least impact on the park and other park users, as well as what the series needs from the park. We have talked to CCSP over the years attempting to impress the need for road resurfacing for safety. We have had promises of “real soon now” for years and are very grateful it finally happened.

For the last eight years, the COBRAS have worked closely with Bicycle Colorado to help us interface with Colorado Parks and Wildlife, and they have been effective. Their legislative representative has kept in touch with CPW monitoring the progress of the funding and the progress of the resurfacing.

8. Recently Frank passed away, the founding member of COBRAS, will there be any special recognition in the way of events or part of KHMTT

Frank was a highly respected and loved member of the COBRAS as well as one of the founders.  The COBRAS will name the start house (tent) to the Frank Schneider Memorial start house and are working with the synagogue that Frank was a member of to donate a plaque honoring Frank and his work with the COBRAS. The congregation loved Frank and was keenly aware of the love he had for bicycle racing and the COBRAS.

Photo by Ryan Muncy

9. Why Volunteer?

All racing events depend on volunteers and the KHMTT is no exception.  We offer two volunteer shifts, each about an hour to an hour and a half. This allows racers to volunteer in one shift and race during the other. You can also volunteer and give your free race to someone else, like a friend or significant other. 

We also offer paid positions and of course are grateful for volunteers who are willing to volunteer just for fun and being a part of the series.

The KHMTT still needs several volunteers to not only marshal but for other positions as well including someone who is familiar with Excel to help record finish times. 

For more information go to https://khmtt.com/volunteer-request/

The KHMTT is inclusive, encouraging new racers, juniors, athletes with disabilities, and racers who now find that a ebike allows them to still ride and race.


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