Dave Muscianisi did not know if he would be able to put on the Colorado Junior Cup in 2020 amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The three-year-old youth cycling competition is typically held in Bailey after nine to 12 months of planning.
Muscianisi, the race founder and director, could have held the competition in Bailey again this year if he ran the races as a time trial, he said. It meant a competitor would leave the start chute every two minutes, but that was not an ideal format, he said.
Muscianisi was ready to cancel. Then he got word Castle Rock would allow him to hold his race in town with a set up more similar to a traditional mass start.
Muscianisi organized his event in three weeks, and on Aug. 15, young cycling enthusiasts took on a 6-mile course at Philip S. Miller Park.
“We just wanted to have an event that brought kids together,” Muscianisi said.
Despite evading cancellation, the Colorado Junior Cup looked different this year, Muscianisi said.
He blocked out the day's schedule to try and limit crowd sizes. Cyclists can register to compete in the event as soon as they are able to walk through age 18. Races for the four age brackets were scheduled to begin at 8:15 a.m. and go past 2:30 p.m.
He spaced the finish and start lines 2,000 feet apart. Spectators were discouraged from congregating at either. Registration was held in The Millhouse building a suitable distance from the course, he said.
In other years, the young cyclists pile on top of each other at the start line when their race is ready to begin. To scale that down Muscianisi set up “a monstrously long start chute,” he said, lining cyclists up four across and spacing their rows apart.
About 250 racers competed in the Colorado Junior Cup this year, roughly 25 more than last year.
Taya Tousley, of Golden, was beaming after finishing second in the girls 11-to-14 age bracket. The 10-year-old typically finishes in third or fourth, she said, and was excited to see improvement.
She started racing roughly two years ago an instantly fell in love with cycling, she said.
“I like that I get to push myself and I just really enjoy the sport,” she said. “I try to go to every race that I can.”
The Colorado Junior Cup was her first race in nearly a year, as the pandemic cancelled events in the past few months, she said.
“It feels really, really good to race again,” she said.
Tony Tousley, Taya's father, said he almost did not bring his family to the event. A lieutenant for Aurora Fire Rescue, Tousley said he understands the health risks of COVID-19.
“It's hard, it's just such an unknown time right now,” he said. “There's mixed feelings for sure.”
Tousley launched a small startup called TAIR Cycles, a custom bike shop based in Golden, after Taya's passion for cycling ignited. He specializes in custom, lightweight bikes built specifically for juvenile cyclists.
While running a tent at the 2020 race, Tousley spaced his display bikes six feet apart, wore a mask and tried to follow social distancing, he said.
As a small business, cycling events give him a critical opportunity to spread the word about TAIR, he said. He also considered that competitors were children and wanted them to have “a little bit of normalcy,” he said.
Both issues were ultimately what swayed him into attending the 2020 Colorado Junior Cup.
“You hope people are being responsible,” he said.
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