Commemorative Bike Art

by Julie Brooks on July 12, 2012

Strength, Dedication, Discipline, Determination

If you are a cycling fan and an art collector, you don’t want to miss this opportunity to own a piece of history.  Strength, dedication, discipline, and determination are in the character of every cyclist…every true athlete.

These very words, Strength, Dedication, Discipline, Determination, are etched into the marble base of this bronze cyclist, modeled after Levi Leipheimer, winner of the inaugural year of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.  The absence of spokes in the wheels and the lean of the bicycle helped the artist capture the motion of the race.  At 10” x 10½” x 5” these statues are smaller representations of the full size statue being donated to the City of Golden to commemorate the Pro Challenge and Golden’s role in the success of the inaugural year.

Strength, Dedication, Discipline, Determination

There are 18 limited edition pieces available and three additional Artist’s Proof editions available for purchase.  Each statue is signed by the artist and numbered within its edition.  The three Artist’s Proofs will also be signed by Levi Leipheimer.  Each statue is set on a marble and walnut base, with a bronze patina on the limited edition and a darker patina on the Artist’s Proofs.

These exceptional pieces were crafted by Jeffrey Burnham Rudolph, a sculptor from Cody, Wyoming. His work can be found in galleries across the western United States. His previous work for Golden can’t be missed.  He sculpted the “Howdy Folks” sculpture of Buffalo Bill with a child on his shoulders, greeting visitors in the 1000 block of Washington Avenue just north of the arch, and the “Nighthorse on the Mesa” sculpture of Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell, located in the roundabout at South Golden Road and Johnson Road.

For more information or to purchase one of these commemorative statues, please contact Julie Brooks at 303-384-8013 or by email at jbrooks@cityofgolden.net.

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Champion System Pro Cycling Team's Craig Lewis wins Stage 2 of the 2012 Tour de Beauce (photo courtesy Brian Hodes, VeloImages)

by Mary Topping

In August 2011 Craig Lewis rode the USA Pro Challenge (UPC) with a left leg that had been broken three months earlier in the Giro d’Italia, still hadn’t healed, and would require a bone graft in December to properly mend.

Lewis, a professional cyclist who now rides for the Champion System Pro Cycling Team, effectively finished the UPC on the strength of one leg. Only a week before the start of the event he touched his jersey pocket with his right hand for the first time since May.

The Giro accident had severely limited vertical movement in his right arm. Doctors had told him there wasn’t anything they could do it if full movement didn’t return. Like any obstacle thrown in Lewis’ path, their pessimistic prognosis didn’t stop him. Lewis knows how to transform a broken body and potentially career-destroying incident into a new winning direction.

First comeback

His ride in the UPC wasn’t the first time Lewis returned to pro-cycling from a horrific accident. In 2004, the year Lewis began his career with the TIAA-CREF team, a vehicle wrongly entered the Tour de Georgia time trial course while he raced. He smashed into it at 40 mph.

According to an essay written by Jonathan Vaughters, Lewis’ team director at the time, the 19 year-old Lewis sustained massive internal bleeding and over 40 broken bones. As he lay in the intensive care unit the day of the accident, Lewis handed Vaughters a note shortly after regaining consciousness. The note read, “When can I ride again?”

In 2006 Lewis won two U.S. national championship road races. He started to race for Team High Road (which later became HTC-Highroad) with the 2008 season; his performance delivered teammates like Mark Cavendish to multiple victories. Lewis, who has represented the U.S. on the national team, was part of a winning team time trial in the 2009 Tour de Romandie. He’s raced twice in the Giro where he earned third on a stage in 2010. The crash that broke his femur in the 2011 Giro in May occurred not long after celebrating a first place in the team time trial there.

Surviving

Just before the UPC started in August 2011 Lewis wrote in an essay for NBCSports.com, “you’d be surprised with how much confidence in your athletic ability you’d lose if you were just recently teaching yourself how to move an arm or walk again. At the start of every racing season, after a long winter’s break, there is always the worry about not cutting it in a race. Multiply that worry by ten, and that is where I am heading into next week.”

He had only expected to make it through the prologue and maybe half the following day. But Lewis completed the entire seven day race. Finishing, he said, “was pretty shocking.”

Craig Lewis warms-up at the 2012 Tour of the Gila time trial (photo by Mary Topping)

Lewis described his left leg as “still broken in multiple pieces” during the race. He couldn’t get out of the saddle or sprint or fight for position at the front of the field, so he needed a race in good weather over wider, straighter roads where a consistent effort would enable him to hang on to the pack. The UPC fit his needs perfectly.

Sitting at the back and surviving, which is how Lewis portrayed his 2011 UPC experience, isn’t a cakewalk. It takes a lot of effort to adjust to changes in pace; if the field slows then suddenly surges forward riders at the back must accelerate quickly to keep up. Add to that an injured left femur held together by a rod from pelvis to knee and that means pain.

“There is always some movement around the fracture, and muscle rubbing up against sharp pieces of bone,” Lewis said, “and then I had a lot of hip issues with a screw that was in there that was too long, so I couldn’t really walk normally and to put pressure on it felt like it was a piece of metal scraping up against my pelvis or something like that.”

Lewis wasn’t disappointed to cling to the back of the field when he had competed with fine form in May. “It was still so early in the recovery that I was just happy to be there at all.”

Competing

Champion System received an invitation to the 2012 UPC and Lewis looks forward to trying to make a difference in the race this time.

He believes scaling Independence Pass from the Aspen side in Stage 4 will add interest to the race. “When you have it at the end of a 200 kilometer stage, everybody’s been racing at 10,000 plus feet so you really can’t make big selections. But if you put it at the start of the stage it’s naturally going to split up everybody.

“If you have an hour and a half climb from the start there’s going to be a lot of damage done. And for a group to come back [to the leaders on the road] they have to be fairly close. They can’t lose five, ten minutes and expect to come back, so I think it could really change the race a lot.”

Lewis thinks the Boulder stage should be interesting too, and not only because he now lives there. When the riders drop down from the Peak to Peak Highway to tackle the shorter climbs in the Boulder foothills, they’ll gain strength because of the decrease in elevation. Last year’s final stage from Golden to Denver was perhaps the most exciting day in the event, Lewis said, “because once you came down from racing all week at 10,000 feet – you’re still at altitude at five to six [thousand feet], but you have a lot more power and more oxygen, so things got a little more aggressive.”

Recovery recipe

Back in August 2011, more than anything Lewis wanted to return to racing. He participated in the UPC because he did not want to wait until 2012 to race again, “and have the doubts running through my head for six more months,” he said earlier this year.

“You always want to get that first race done when you are coming back from any setback, injury or illness. It helps you move on, and focus on improving.”

For Lewis, getting on top of the recovery process immediately after an injury is critical. It starts with choosing a recovery goal and focusing on improvement every day to achieve it.

After the Giro accident, he couldn’t move his right arm for six weeks. “They didn’t know if the nerve would recover or not,” he said, “but I just kept trying to focus on trying to move fingers, hands, or lift it at a certain angle and eventually it came back.”

Accepting and starting from the post-injury state is critical to healing as well. “It’s kind of just forgetting what you think it feels like and resetting your mind and your body to dealing with how it is then,” Lewis said. He acknowledged it’s easy for someone who is injured to get stuck in mourning whatever the accident stole away. He added, “They don’t think about starting from scratch and building up from nothing.”

It’s also easy to contemplate giving up after a serious injury. When asked if he’s ever thought about quitting professional cycling, Lewis said, “It’s always kind of present. I don’t want to go through any of the things I’ve been through or put my family through that anymore, and I’m going to try my best not to do that.”

Craig Lewis at the Boulder Wine Merchant (photo by Mary Topping)

Despite the risks, the freedom inherent in the life of a professional cyclist is too good for Lewis to pass up while the door remains open. “The other jobs aren’t going anywhere,” Lewis said, “but life as a professional cyclist is pretty much over when you stop. You can’t get it back.” His wife supports his decision to continue in the sport.

He likes working at the Boulder Wine Merchant part-time. Raised in South Carolina, Lewis has enjoyed cooking since childhood. The chef at Boulder’s Frasca Food and Wine and he discuss the culinary arts over bike rides and Lewis sometimes observes him at work in the Frasca kitchen.

Lewis called himself an “inventive” chef when he described how he cooks at home; it’s another aspect of his life where he starts from scratch, using whatever ingredients he has on hand to create a satisfying result.

New approach

The persistence and discipline that Lewis emulated by twice learning to walk again after two terrible accidents are traits required to succeed in professional cycling. Day after day riders unquestioningly follow their team directors’ orders to destroy themselves physically to help teammates win. This work environment can transform them into machines; daily brushes with danger make them impervious to fear.

So it’s refreshing to encounter the very human vulnerability Lewis reveals when he reflects on the sport.

Now 27 years-old, Lewis became a leader on the ambitious Asian-based Champion System team after HTC-Highroad folded in 2011. In a blog he wrote for Cyclingnews in May of this year, he admitted he’s feeling his way through a leader’s role on the team, a responsibility he’s grateful to experience this early in his career.

Champion System is a great fit for Lewis. The team’s pro-continental status is a UCI classification down from HTC-Highroad’s level, but it’s an easy trade-off. His position on the team provides him with more flexibility. He’s happy.

“Not that HTC didn’t give me any options but I knew my role was to work for the others and to always give everything I had for that aspect alone and there was a good deal of pressure that went into just that. Now I have freedom to ride for myself or freedom to help the other guys out as well. It’s up to me to decide what that is. It’s kind of cool to be able sit down and choose program, choose your goals.”

Lewis’ outlook on the sport has changed. “You can’t really go through a traumatic experience like that and not have it change you in one way or another,” he said. “I feel that it’s been for the better.”

He now trains with a lot less of what he described as “structure.” With just a bike and a computer and no power meter at the time of this interview, he’s having fun on the bike, an approach he said he plans to take for the remainder of his career.

In mid-June his approach yielded a victory. Lewis won Stage 2 of the Tour de Beauce in Canada, his first win since the 2011 May accident. First win, that is, if only racing results count.

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Alex Howes’ Golden Opportunity

by Mary Topping May 3, 2012

Golden, Colorado native and professional cyclist Alex Howes suffers when he works and he suffers when he can’t. But an event this August might provide him with a different kind of sensation. On race days Howes’ job can mean turning himself inside-out pedaling over 160 miles in six hours with a handful of guys in [...]

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Welcome to Golden: Where the West Bikes!

by Local Organizing Committee April 6, 2012

Golden’s Commemorative Art for 2012 USA Pro Challenge Features a Statue of Levi Leipheimer! The word is out!  All host cities for the 2012 USA Pro Challenge had a requirement to install permanent commemorative art to celebrate the race.  What better way to commemorate the race than with a statue of its inaugural winner!  That’s [...]

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Team Exergy Stepping Up & Out at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

by Mary Topping August 26, 2011

“It’s stepping into the unknown a bit,” said Tad Hamilton, sports director for Team Exergy. Team Exergy, a road cycling team, upgraded from amateur to professional (UCI continental) status for the 2011 season. This upgrade catapults the team into new territory, namely additional races and a higher level of competition. As new kids on the [...]

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Johan Bruyneel on how the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Benefits Golden

by Mary Topping August 19, 2011

Broncos and Rockies fans endure freezing temperatures at Invesco Field and blazing sun at Coors Field to watch their favorite athletes. Professional cycling fans are just as intense. They wake up at 4:30 am in July to follow the mountain stages of the Tour de France on television. They will stand in the rain for [...]

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Golden Stage 6: Events for Everyone!

by Local Organizing Committee August 17, 2011

You really can’t beat Golden for events during the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.  There is so much to do it could make your head spin as fast as Andy Schleck. There is something for everyone, from the casual fan to the hard-core racer. The celebration starts the weekend prior to the race, on Saturday August 20th. [...]

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Tom Danielson’s Dream Tour

by Mary Topping August 10, 2011

Tom Danielson didn’t believe it when he learned he would race in the 2011 Tour de France (Tour). He took utmost care to make sure he’d get there. “Everything I did I looked at with a microscope,” he said. His mantra became: “I cannot fall off my bike. I cannot get sick. Nothing is going [...]

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Tom Danielson on the UPCC: He Wants it Real Bad

by Mary Topping August 4, 2011

It’s crystal clear. Tom Danielson, professional cyclist with Team Garmin-Cervélo, will endure whatever it takes to win the inaugural edition of the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (UPCC) which visits Golden on August 28th. Tom and his wife Stephanie raise their 16-month-old son, Steven, in their Boulder home near the Rocky Mountain foothills. There on an [...]

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Timmy Duggan Races Full Circle to Golden with the USA Pro Cycling Challenge

by Mary Topping July 19, 2011

Meet Timmy Duggan, who is, “full gas for the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.” Born and now living in Boulder, Colorado, Timmy is a member of the Italian Liquigas-Cannondale Pro Cycling Team and twenty-eight years old. He began racing professionally in 2005 with the Slipstream Sports program and fought to return to the sport after sustaining [...]

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