The USA Pro Challenge is coming back to Aspen this summer, and local race organizers already are working to make the two days of the competition run as smooth as possible.
The city of Aspen, Pitkin County and the town of Snowmass Village have been awarded the overall start for the USA Pro Challenge bike race and a Stage Two start on August 18 and 19 of this year. It’s the fourth year Aspen and Pitkin County have been involved and the second year for Snowmass Village.
Nancy Lesley, the director of special events for the city of Aspen, said outreach has begun to the local caucuses, the homeowner associations, metro districts and businesses in the same format as 2013. She said the response back has been minimal but supportive.
“I’m hoping that means we did a really good job of outreach last year,” she said. “We’re also in the permitting process, and we’re moving forward.”
The special-event permit was filed in February.
Lesley said that conference calls and meetings are being set up this month with the town of Carbondale and other “pass through” communities with the Colorado State Patrol hosting the meetings.
The 2014 race plan is to keep the first day of the competition the same as it was last year with teams making three laps between Aspen and Snowmass Village.
There’s big changes coming on day two as the course will not access Independence Pass, but instead will begin in Aspen and tentatively go across McLain Flats and access Highway 82 at Smith Road. From there, the course will proceed to Carbondale and head up Highway 133 to McClure Pass, then go across Paonia State Park and Kebler Pass before heading into Crested Butte and finishing at Mount Crested Butte.
“The course is still under discussion,” Lesley said. “We’re still not sure when the final course application will make it to the board.”
Lesley added that the Aspen Hospital, Aspen Airport and RFTA would all have a voice when discussions continue to finalize the racecourse. The incident-management team also has begun meetings and will soon designate the personal participating on the team.
Commissioner George Newman again questioned the day two route and wondered why course officials want to use Highway 82 at Smith Road instead of having the course proceed through Woody Creek and Lower River Road until it accesses Highway 82 by the Old Snowmass Conoco gas station.
“I think the Woody Creek route gives a better opportunity for a more scenic ride,” Newman said. “I’m not sure why the course is better off staying on Highway 82.”
Lesley said one reason might be there are too many driveways to deal with on the Woody Creek proposed route, but that the course configuration is still under discussion.
“No matter what route they decide, Day 2 of the race will be on an exciting course,” she said. “We’re giving Independence Pass a break and now Day 2 will challenge the racers in other ways.”