The OZ Road Race – Colorado’s newest and longest road race in history
This past winter has been a busy one for many in the Cycling industry. 303 has entered a new era and just announced its partnership with BikeState38, the Boulder Bike & Brew Festival is undergoing some soon-to-be-announced changes, meanwhile BRAC and local race directors are breaking bread and talking on a regular basis. One of the biggest changes to emerge from these cold winter months is the announcement of a brand new road race set to take place on May 7th, 2016 – welcome to OZ! 303 caught up with Without Limits Race Director Lance Panigutti to get the inside scoop.
303 Cycling: So please tell us a little bit about this new road race. Why now, why a road race?
Without Limits (Lance): The better question is why not a road race. The largest complaints we’ve heard for the past 8 seasons are always the same; the road scene is stale, the road scene is criterium heavy, criteriums are not beginner friendly. I know it’s pretty unusual to hear road cyclists complain, but in this regard they had a legitimate argument. There’s a time and place for criteriums, hill climbs, and time-trials, but the foundation of a road cycling scene should be road racing. Outside of the Morgul Bismark, Rio Grande, and Boulder Roubaix there’s been a real void of viable road races close to the Front Range. Since 2013 we’ve had “ROAD RACE?” In bold red ink circled on a white board for future plans, but have struck out on a number of courses and venues we’ve pursued. However, all the cards finally fell into place a few months ago. The event had to meet three main criteria 1) reasonably close to Denver 2) a single loop course over 25 miles in length 3) a venue with parking for 500+, self-contained with a wide finish line area. OZ meets all those and so much more. Is it a race for everyone? No, of course not. Will all our “anonymous” friends emerge from their parent’s basement to enter the masters divisions? We hope so, but then they’d have less to complain about. In the end this race is about one person, the road cycling enthusiast looking to experience true road cycling racing at its best.
303 Cycling: How did this event come about?
Without Limits (Lance): The course was literally a “lemons into lemonade” story. As many in the triathlon world know this past season the Arapahoe County Sheriff woke up one day and decided they didn’t like cyclists anymore, so all triathlons taking place out of Aurora Reservoir were effectively cancelled. One of our events, the Harvest Moon Half Ironman, after 16 great seasons went “poof – gone”. The silver lining was the northern part of that course took place in Adams County, so Tony and I sat down and said, “what about going north, there’s no water for a swim, but there’s some great routes for that elusive long road race”. We were able to get Front Range Airport on board, State Patrol and Adams County love the route, so last week the OZ Road Race was officially born.
303 Cycling: We have to ask, the name? We know a lot of your triathlon brands are pretty generic like the Summer OPEN or Oktoberfest, so why OZ?
Without Limits (Lance): Look around and you see the next generation of events speaking to a creative audience, so your brand should reflect that. Everyone looks across the pond and thinks we need to brand our events after the “Tour de….” But why? The long standing joke in Colorado is to do a race over 40 miles you have to go to Kansas. Well Toto, you’re not in Kansas anymore – this is OZ, this is the OZ Road Race!
303 Cycling: What are your expectations for the first year this season?
Without Limits (Lance): For a first year event we try to dampen expectations, but overall I’d like to see a challenging event that resonates with racers. We’d like to see it welcoming to new cyclists, but also be a true test for those cat 1-2’s looking to get ready for their late season events. We’re also trying some new concepts in regards to the entry fee based on the distance raced, and set a schedule to give a few categories choice over the distance raced.