BRECKENRIDGE – The weather along the USA Pro Challenge route this week has been rather tempermental. From sunny to rainy, then back to sunny again, followed by more rain. Regardless, hundreds of thousands still came out to cheer on the cyclists and shop at towns along the way.
Economic Boom for Small Businesses
One of the stores seeing a spike in sales due to the USA Pro Challenge is the Animal Rescue of the Rockies Thrift Shop in Breckenridge. The store was packed Friday morning as tourists flocked into town for the race.
"I came in early because I knew there would be people milling around the streets," said Judy Lindblad, who works at the thrift store. "The Pro Challenge brings a lot of people into town".
Lindblad said the Pro Challenge will likely increase sales for the thrift store by 50 percent on Friday. The money generated from the shop's sales goes towards dogs and cats at the Animal Rescue of the Rockies.
Other shops say they'll see sales spikes as well – as for how large, managers and employees simply weren't sure.
The folks at Main Street Outlet in Breckenridge figured they would see a spike since most of their sales happen in the winter months.
"We are definitely dictated by the seasons in the winter," said Adam Kelly, who works at Main Street Outlet.
Regardless of whether it's a small bump or a large bump, Kelly said a bump is a bump – and for that, he's grateful the Pro Challenge is in town.
"It does bring a lot of people into town and a lot of smiles on their faces," Kelly said.
While some stores will see a profit, the big money will go to hotels and restaurants. Downstairs at Eric's, a local bar and grill, was jam packed on Friday. Its owner said normally this time of year, it is usually dead. On Friday, it was as packed as a Bronco's night.
The pros weren't the only ones crossing the finish line in Breckenridge on Friday. Earlier in the morning, veterans associated with the VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System teamed up with the Breckenridge Outdoor Education Center to accomplish something they've been working on for 14 weeks.
Six graduating veterans participating in an adaptive cycling program completed their mission by cycling at high elevation through Breckenridge and past the Pro Challenge finish line.
Each vet is dealing with a different challenge. This program taught them how to bike again.
"There really are no words for it. It's absolutely the most rewarding part of my job is seeing these veterans meet their goals and accomplish things they never thought was possible," said Crystal Black, a Recreation Therapist with VA Eastern Colorado Health Care System.
A graduation ride for the cyclists will take place in Silverthorne Saturday morning.
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