COLORADO SPRINGS — A four-day mountain bike challenge returns to southern Colorado on Thursday. It's called the Pikes Peak APEX, and it's bringing amateur and professional bike riders from all around the country to our community and showcasing local trails.
About 200 riders will be competing in the race, which stretches 115 miles on local trails in Colorado Springs and Monument. It's a bucket-list race for many mountain bikers, including Miles Juneau, who thought he'd never be able to peddle a bike again.
"This race means a lot to me. I've had it on my calendar for two years. There was a lot of time that I had doubts that I'd be able to compete competitively in an event like this," said Juneau. "It was questionable if I'd ever walk again and with the discussions of amputation, all I was concerned about was can I ride my bike with one leg?"
Juneau underwent a routine knee surgery in 2019 which left him with a severe infection, MRSA and osteomyelitis.
"I had seven knee surgeries over the course of 12 months, was bed bound and couldn't move, and all I could do was look out of my window and wish that I was on these trails," said Juneau.
Although he no longer has full range of motion in his leg it's enough to keep pedaling his bike, and by his side on the trails is Justin Martin, a friend and professional bike racer.
"We moved from the south to Colorado Springs to continue to chase this dream and this passion of ours. We've logged many many hours, many many miles and shed quite a few tears," said Martin.
The two will be among among the couple hundred riders riding popular trails in the region. They'll be making their way down dirt roads, jeep trails, an an alpine single track unique to Pikes Peak.
"On the race course, we're definitely fierce competitors, but outside of that we just want to help each other grow and get to that next step," said Martin. "Having an event of this caliber in our backyard also speaks to the quality of our trail systems and the organizations involved."
While Junaeu was also helping himself get to the next step and recovering from his injury, he didn't let his health issues hold him back, and even became USA cycling certified as a coach. Now, he has a message for others.
"As a coach and an athlete, I really want to set the example for people that anything is possible, and when life knocks you down you can get back up," said Juneau. "You keep moving forward, in the midst of the storm."
The APEX race begins on Thursday at Palmer Park in Colorado Springs. On Saturday, the APEX team is hosting an outdoor festival and expo at America the Beautiful Park. It begins at 7:30 a.m. and last until 3 p.m.
The race is only in its second year, and it's also the first year spectators can watch some of the riders.
Proceeds and money raised from the event goes to the Outdoor Recreation Alliance. The organization helps maintain local trails and also helps build new ones.
For more information about the Pikes Peak APEX race, click here.