Winterskol is adding a fat-tire bike event to its annual festival, with the race taking place Jan. 11 on a nordic trail at the Marolt Open Space.
Plans for the event firmed up after the Aspen Chamber Resort Association received approval from the Aspen-Snowmass Nordic Council. Fat-tire bikes are not allowed on most groomed nordic trails, but because of Marolt’s multi-use nature, the council signed off.
“The Nordic Council’s first priority is to protect a good skiing platform,” council member Howey Mallory said, adding that the council will re-evaluate the event afterward for future Winterskols.
Organizers will pack out a three-quarter-mile loop around the perimeter of the Marolt property. Austin Weiss, of the Aspen Parks Department, said the new track will not only provide a racecourse for the one-day event, but it will be available to skiers, walkers and dog owners for the rest of the season.
ACRA Senior Event Manager Julie Hardman said the race is a perfect fit at Winterskol for several reasons. For one, the association wants to promote Aspen cycling in the winter as well as in the summer. She also said snow bikes have been growing in popularity, so the chamber wanted to embrace that.
A similar fat-tire bike race in Leadville sees between 50 and 100 athletes compete. Hardman said she hopes to see a turnout in that range.
The Jan. 11 event kicks off with a competitive race at 10 a.m. at Marolt. The competition will be followed by a demo in Wagner Park, with fat-tire bikes and a mini track. At 4 p.m., there is a town bike ride open to all. The day will end with an awards ceremony at the Limelight Hotel, which will be providing fat-tire bikes to its guests throughout the day.
“We’d love to keep it as an annual event on our calendar, for sure,” Hardman said. “I think that the way we’ve designed the day, ... there’s something for everybody. It’s not just a hard-core, competitive race. So I’m hoping that brings in more interest and numbers and that it can expand for the future.”
Weiss said that with all of the recent enthusiasm for cycling in Aspen, the event is a natural fit for the town. While other locations were considered for the event, including Difficult Campground, Weiss said Marolt will serve the race’s purposes just fine.