By Bill Plock, March 22, 2022
As populations and traffic grow along the Colorado Front Range, putting on road bike races has become increasingly difficult. Barry Lee and Sanitas Sports have turned some of their attention south towards Colorado Springs and the Eastern Plains. About a dozen or so miles east of the town of Fountain, about halfway between Colorado Springs and Pueblo, at the county school serving kids from all over El Paso County, the GROOVE Fountain Bike Festival was born in 2021.
Now in its second year Kirk Hanna Park serves as headquarters, parking and warm up space for the two day event. Hopefully in the future there will be some live music and possibly camping options and said Race Director Barry Lee, “maybe even combining a weekend with a gravel / community festival such as Hanover days with the popular tractor pulls. Memories of my roots where I went to these as a kid in central Texas.”
With quiet roads, rolling hills and majestic views of Pikes Peak and the distant Sangre de Cristo mountains, riders tackled a time trial on Saturday and road race on Sunday.
Said Barry, “a couple of years ago Donna and local Rocky Mountain Tri club members took me out there to train on a 40 mile loop. I always find myself looking for routes to offer a selective, mixed rolling terrain that suit a more all around type rider and this area has perfect roads for that.”
With infinite views from every direction, 303 Ambassador Sasha Underwood echoed Barry’s vision and said, “they changed the course slightly this year, for the better in my opinion! In the middle the course, they put us on a mile or so stretch of dirt and I loved it! It was a perfect dirt road and was just the novelty I needed for a change of pace, challenge and scenery.” She continues, “The volunteers were awesome, the course, competitive but inclusive atmosphere, especially amongst riders. The group I was in included Collegiate Woman A and B, Cat 3, 4 and 5. We were a chatty bunch this year during the first half and there were a lot of first-time and second-time racers in the group.”
Before Barry moved to the area years ago from Texas, he often visited Colorado Springs to ride and even took a group of kids to the area for an adventure camp. He said, “it’s always been one of my favorite areas and with an opportunity to move from Nederland to Old Colorado City (near Manitou Springs) I wanted to add some bike races and events to the lineup!”
When asked what he likes about organizing rides in the area, “It’s one of the most supportive and welcoming communities I have ever worked with. We work with Fountain, Hanover School and the Kirk Hanna park board. They are wonderful groups and we brainstorm and plan together well in advance to lessen the impact to the residents and ranchers but still attract riders and support the local initiatives. This past weekend we raised funds to support a new kids water feature in the playground. We sold food/ coffee and helped raise just over $1k to get started on that project. We donated the first of two groups of yoga mat packages for a new school program. I can’t thank our title sponsor GROOVE Automotive and GROOVE Honda of Colorado Springs enough for help and we have more donations planned for the school at the 40k Colorado State Games Time Trial held here on July 31st.”
From Hanover School, “The school appreciated the way things went this weekend, (and) we are grateful for the yoga mats that were donated. We look forward to working with everyone on future adventures.”
The Fountain Festival has a chance to keep growing into something special and is a very inclusive kind of venue. Said racer Amy Mosser, “Barry and his team always put on a good race. The course with some rollers but no big climbs was good for me knee coming off surgery. I had a good friend that I could race with and the weather looked close to perfect for mid-March.”
In just a couple of weeks on April 10th, Barry and his team is partnering with the Warner Group and the Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort to put on an epic Gravel Gran Fondo. The climb up Rampart Range Road with spectacular views of Colorado Springs and Garden of the Gods is a challenge not to be missed. If you haven’t stayed at the Buffalo Lodge, it’s a must do for every cycling enthusiast with its bike themed rooms and owner, huge bike advocate and friend Torrie Griffin, a Colorado Springs cycling Icon.
Other rides and events offered by Barry Lee and all.
- The Warner Group Gravel Fondo Festival April 10th https://www.bikereg.com/54894 Promoting and Benefiting with a silent as auction Mt Carmel veterans non-profit
- Ned Gravel, July 9th https://www.bikereg.com/52661 Benefiting Ride for Racial Justice
- Davis Phinney Tour de Victory, July 16th Benefiting Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s https://davisphinneyfoundation.org/event/tour-de-victory/
- Strada Bianche, August 28th Boulder/Niwot, http://stradebiancheusa.com/
- Others: https://www.sanitassports.us
- Guanella hill climb, Sunshine hill climb, CSP crit, Dove Creek crit, State games 40k TT and team team time trials