By Veronica Penney

Denver’s inaugural Velorama Music Festival unfolded on the streets of Five Points from Aug. 11-13, pairing two of Colorado’s signature summer pastimes: outdoor concert-going and riding bikes. The three-day festival included headlining sets from Wilco and Death Cab for Cutie, a maker’s mart, bike races starring some of the world’s top pro riders, and amateur criterium races.

Velorama tickets granted entrants access to the main stage just north of Blake Street, as well as a small village of booths, demos, and food trucks in the festival area. xFinity trucks provided wireless hot-spots and displayed the pro cycling races on jumbo-trons shoppers perused through the booths.

The Makers Mart next to the stage hosted dozens of vendors selling leatherwork, apparel, artwork, and local foods. The neighboring Innovation Alley housed cycling companies showing off the latest and greatest advancements in the industry. Stages Cycling displayed their new indoor spin bike, which offers cyclists a realistic road feel and the ability to record and export workouts via Bluetooth and ANT+.

Men's Cat 3 starting now!

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Gates Carbon Drive, the makers of the drive train for the Stages spin bike, was also present at Innovation Alley. Gates Corporation is known for its automotive and industrial power transmission products, but the company recently stepped onto the scene with belt drives for bikes. Their carbon-reinforced belt drive systems provide a long-lasting, easy-to-maintain alternative to traditional chains, particularly for e-bikes, which produce much more power than traditional bikes.

Comcast sponsored festival and hosted a demo of its new virtual reality system throughout the weekend. Using a stationary bike and a virtual reality headset, participants could play their way through their choice of five VR experiences. 

Players move by pedaling forward (or backward), turn by tilting their head, and look around the world by turning their head. The video game options ranged from hunting for dinosaur bones in a tank, to riding a winged unicorn and collecting gems.

While video game enthusiasts pedaled away inside, others in Comcast’s VIP area took advantage of a prime view of the start/ finish line for the races. Friday night’s criterium drew a large field of professional women racers who had wrapped up the second stage of the Colorado Classic Bike Race that morning in Breckenridge.

The men’s final criterium at Velorama Colorado. (Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

The race course ran a loop through 30th Street, Larimer Street, 35th Street, and Walnut Street in north Denver, starting in the early afternoon and running late into the night. Spectators lined the fenced streets to cheer as cyclists rode continuously through the one-mile lap under the street lights and spotlights.

For amateur riders, the nighttime races allowed a rare opportunity to race through the streets of Five Points on a closed course. The flat course and wide corners made for a fast race, keeping racers in a pack. With everyone so close together, races were decided by a group sprint finish, meaning that strategy and placement within the group were key for a successful race.

With cyclists flying past at roughly two minutes per lap, the course also made for a great spectating event. Thanks to mid-race cash “primes,” race fans were treated to several finish line sprints per race, in addition to the final battle for podium spots. The central location of the race enabled spectators to move around the perimeter of the course and take advantage of the Five Points bars and breweries lining the course.

Head to the Velorama website for more information on the festival, or check the Colorado Classic results page for final race results.