Bonedale Bike Week gets rolling, fueled by free coffee, snacks and a scavenger hunt
Cyclists of all ages joined in on Wednesday morning during the weeklong Bonedale Bike celebration at the corner of 4th & Main in downtown Carbondale.
Between Monday through Friday this week from 7 until 9 a.m., there will be free Bonfire coffee, tea, hot chocolate, and breakfast snacks for cyclists. Apparently, it’s a good incentive.
“This morning, we had between 90 and 110 total cyclists for morning coffee today. It was a great crowd with many commuting elementary and middle schoolers,” said Tracy Wilson, Bike Week organizer.
“Carbondale is an amazing town to ride bikes in, and we have the best community support that encourages people to get on their bikes by supporting Bike Week,” she said.
The Bike Scavenger Hunt and finale party begins at 6 p.m. on Thursday at Aloha Mountain Cyclery. It’s a scavenger hunt around town for teams of two to six people. Participants will meet at 5:45 p.m. at Aloha Mountain Cyclery (580 Highway 133).
All ages are encouraged, and there will be a shorter “little people/family” division that will be focused on the Rio Grande pathway for safety and fun. Helmets required, phones needed, and costumes strongly recommended. Kids under 14 are welcome with an adult.
Then, the post-scavenger hunt party with music provided by a local band called Sweet Jessup, fizzy water, beer, and pizza from Peppinos (Get there early — when it’s gone, it’s gone, say organizers), and raffle.
In 2008, Bonedale Bike Week was founded by Tracy Wilson, along with Jess and Dave Downing, as a means to celebrate the bicycle in all its forms. Since its founding, many local champions have stepped up to plan, organize, fold T-shirts, and serve coffee and donuts to the cycling-loving community that is Carbondale, organizers said.
The Hub of Aspen cycling shop is moving next to Clark’s Market as season arrives
The spokes are in motion. One of the longest-operating bicycle sales and repair shops in the city, The Hub of Aspen, will be moving locations this month.
Tim Emling purchased the business from Charlie Tarver in 2017 in hopes of keeping it a community-based business with services for tourists and the core resources needed for locals.
Throughout The Hub’s lifetime, the business has spun about town. But when Emling moved the operation from its other location above Eric’s Bar to 616 E Hyman Ave., he hadn’t projected another move.
But now it’s time for another spin through town. This time it’s in the same development as Clark’s Market, to the old Verizon space, an opportunity Emling said he couldn’t pass up.
“We are very disappointed that we are making this move during one of our busiest times of the year,” he said.
Snowbirds are returning to the valley, and bicycles are being pulled out of storage throughout town. Furthermore, biking season is at full cycle in Moab, a popular destination for Aspen’s bike-loving adrenaline-junky aficionados, and those bicycles needing tuning.
“It’s just frustrating that during a time when the community needs us most, we can’t provide the full-service operations that our customers are accustomed to. Right now, we are having to turn people away for service with the impending move,” Emling said.
However, he said he knows this next journey is going to be a winner and worth hassles he hadn’t predicted in his current location.
“A new spot opened in town giving us a better opportunity. We secured a 10-year lease at the former Verizon store,” said Emling.
The Hub of Aspen’s new headquarters offers more for Emling’s customers.
“Now, we have free parking which is always a premium in Aspen. And we are right off the Rio Grande Trail, such an ideal spot and next to a bicycle rental shop, Aspen Velo, of whom we have always enjoyed a great working relationship,” he said.
He said he also is excited about applying for a tavern license to host après bike events onsite.
Folsom skis will continue to operate from Emling’s new space, a long-running partnership that has benefited both businesses.
“I’m enthusiastic about working with Tony Mazza of M & W properties. I just feel like he really wanted us there. He wanted to work with us to arrive at the best possible situation for our business. I am humbled by their welcoming of our venture. It’s a change, and a very good way to do operations,” said Emling. “We’re lucky things really fell into place in such a timely manner.”
Before The Hub of Aspen can relocate to new digs, there are a lot of moving parts, and bicycles. Emling will be posting to their Instragram account (@hubofaspen) within the next couple of weeks about a community-wide moving event in which loyal customers, friends and family can assist in the mass transition.
And there’s a sale involved. All in stock bicycles and accessories will be on sale from now until the move date at the current location.
“We must be out by May 31 and already have the keys to our new location. We are currently in the middle of a build-out to better accommodate the business,” said Emling.
He and his wife, Greta, are excited to contintue to serve the community as a family-run business, he said. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Carbondale entrepreneur introduces the brand new, all-electric Terra Bike
Like a lot of people, Dylan Brown sought shelter from the COVID-19 storm in 2020 by retreating to an out-of-the-way, uncrowded place to ride things out — in his case, the Utah desert.
He didn’t just hunker down, though; he eventually went to work to build a better bike.
The impetus was a plan to set out on some road trips with a raft to run the desert-country river stretches.
After moving in with his parents in Escalante, the Glenwood Springs native and his fiancee, Sarah, were looking for a different way to run shuttle on rafting trips that didn’t involve ride shares or hitchhiking and the inherent risk of disease spread that presented.
A mode of transportation that would be open-air and could be transported with a basic bike rack was also preferred.
An avid mountain biker, Brown started looking at e-bike options to ease the ride and make better time on the typical 15- to 20-mile returns upstream to retrieve the transport vehicle.
“I started looking at what was out there and didn’t see anything that would have the range and speed that we needed to hop on a county road and be safe,” he said.
With the forced down-time after suspending his work as a commercial photographer when he couldn’t travel due to the COVID restrictions, he decided to turn his efforts toward coming up with a transportation solution.
The end result is the Terra Bike, an all-electric motorcycle without the pedal assist that falls in the same classification for licensing purposes as a moped. The bikes are equipped with a 72-volt rechargeable battery and can reach a top speed of 55 mph with a 60-mile range.
Brown is now ramping up for on-demand production of the slick new e-cycle this year and, in the meantime, can often be seen riding and showing off his working prototype model, the Terra Prime, around Carbondale.
Initially, to aid on those river trips, Brown ordered up the parts to build a Stealth Bomber bike — a juiced-up type of electric pedal-assist bicycle, or e-bike, that had become popular as a racing machine in China and more recently in Australia.
“I built it in like four months, and it was really fun, and I learned a lot,” he said. “But there were definitely some things that I came to realize that I absolutely didn’t like.”
Namely, the more powerful the motor, the more bike pedals just tend get in the way and end up becoming a protrusion on which to bash your shins.
Brown also wanted his bike to be versatile enough to navigate muddy, dirt trails and ride pavement. That meant he needed to design a better center of gravity for the motor and also find a way to contain the motor, battery and controls in a waterproof compartment.
He credits his dad, Ricki Brown, with the background knowledge of motorcycles that helped him with the design. His dad always had a motorcycle rebuild project in his shop when Dylan was growing up. That helped him develop his own love for classic motorcycles.
But a motorcycle wasn’t practical for what he was trying to accomplish. Plus, he didn’t care for the grease, the pollution and, “honestly, the noise” of a motorcycle, he said.
There was definitely something to be said for the design, though.
He took his ideas to the drawing board and came up with the Terra Bike — a low-powered electric motorcycle that’s versatile enough for commuting to and from the office or errands around town to ripping dirt trails. The bikes come with street-legal head, brake and indicator lights and a horn.
Critical to the final design was to come up with a fully water- and dust-proof enclosure with watertight seals for the motor, battery, electronic components and charging port.
“Think about trying to go over Cottonwood Pass or up on top of McClure Pass, and it’s raining,” Brown said. “It doesn’t matter how much you seal a regular e-bike; water ingress is the real issue that can cause problems.”
Brown grew up in Glenwood Springs, graduating from Glenwood High School and going on to study civil engineering at the University of Utah before deciding in his junior year that wasn’t what he wanted to do.
He switched majors to photojournalism and also started racing mountain bikes on the Rocky Mountain circuit until an injury ended that pursuit.
He worked in newspapers in Utah and Montana and then for a bike magazine before becoming a commercial photographer, which he’s been doing for the past dozen or so years.
His engineering studies came into play through his work mapping out photo shoots for commercial advertising, especially in working with fabricators and engineers to get the right angles for the latest mountain bike models.
“I also got to ride a lot of different bikes, so I could understand the geometry and what they were trying to capture (in the ads),” he said.
All of that definitely came in handy when it was time to design the Terra Bike.
“The idea behind the bike was to keep it as lightweight as possible because anything electric, the more weight you put on it, the more strain it’s going to have on the battery,” Brown said.
Currently, the end product weighs 160 pounds, including a mid-drive, 3-kilowatt motor, which is different from standard, pedal-assist e-bikes that have the motor in the rear hub or combo rear/front hub.
“Living in Carbondale, I wanted to be able to go up to places like the (motor bike) trails on The Crown or up Transfer Trail and rip some trails,” he said.
That meant placing the gearing where the center of gravity is lower and centered on the bike.
By keeping the motor at 3 kilowatts, the Terra Bike is classified as a moped, so a full driver’s license is not needed.
It combines mountain bike, e-bike and motorcycle components for a crossover design that combines some of the best performance features of each.
For instance, there’s a sturdier downhill mountain bike fork with a typical mountain bike headset, handlebars and e-bike style piston brakes.
Brown said he initially looked at incorporating mountain bike wheels, but that was where the motorcycle dirt bike design ended up coming into the mix.
The Terra Bike comes equipped with a 19-by-1.85 inch dirt bike rims and 10-gauge spokes, with a custom rear hub Brown has sourced from a shop in Denver. This allows the bike to hold speeds of 55 mph.
James Bleakley, a custom mountain bike frame builder out of Fort Collins, helped Brown with the frame design that’s now used with the final product.
The motor has three speed modes, including a lower mode, called “city mode,” that tops out at 25 miles per hour, then a mid-range for up to 40 mph and high-speed mode for up to 55. The bike is not legal for the Rio Grande Trail and is not recommended for longer stretches on state highways but is fine for county roads and forest routes, Brown said.
“If you’re riding sub-30 miles per hour, you’ll get 60 miles or more on a charge,” he said. “And if you’re riding at 55, you’ll probably get more like 45-50 miles. So, it’s really speed and acceleration dependent, just like driving a gas motor.”
Brown said his ideal customer for the Terra Bike ranges from the city commuter to someone looking for a new toy to take out onto the backcountry trails.
Someone like Draper White, one of Brown’s first customers who is looking forward to owning his own Terra Bike.
“I never really considered myself a dirt bike person, but I liked the idea of having an electric bike that’s quiet and that I can get on the back of my Subaru,” White said. “I do a bit of elk hunting, so it will be nice to take up to spot where I can’t drive my car.”
On nice days, it can also be a way to get from his home in Missouri Heights to his work studio in Basalt.
“It’s also another fun thing to ride around the dirt roads and just another way to explore.”
Brown said he’s gearing up for a pilot run of 10 bikes, most of which are already spoken for. Reservations are also being taken for bike deliveries in November or December of this year.
Bilbao to be start for 2023 Tour de France cycling race, climbers will be tested
PARIS — Starting in the Basque Country in northern Spain, next year’s Tour de France will feature four mountain-top finishes and a Tour record 30 difficult climbs but only one time trial.
Race director Christian Prudhomme revealed the route for the July 1-23 race on Thursday. The 110th edition covers 3,404 kilometers (2,115 miles), encompassing eight mountain stages across five mountain ranges and eight flat stages for sprinters.
Defending champion Jonas Vingegaard of Denmark, two-time champion Tadej Pogacar and 2020 runner-up Primoz Roglic of Slovenia will take in the sights of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao and the San Mames soccer stadium, which is home to Athletic Bilbao.
“The Guggenheim museum is one of the symbols of the city as well as one of the most famous museums of modern and contemporary art in the world,” Prudhomme said.
The first stage around Bilbao is a hilly one and the next two stages stay in the Basque region. There is a finish at the bay of San Sebastian — which hosted a stage in 1949 — and the first sprint stage hugs the coastline to Bayonne as the race enters southeastern France, with another sprint stage on the fourth stage from Dax to Nogaro.
Climbers hit the Pyrenees mountains on the fifth stage, with a 15-kilometer (9.3-mile) ascent of Col de Soudet. Stage six has a grueling grind up Col d’Aspin, a daunting 17-kilometer (10.5-mile) trek up Tourmalet before finishing with a similar-length climb to Cauterets-Cambasque.
The ninth stage on July 9 sees a spectacular climb to Puy-de-Dome, a famed volcanic crater in the Massif Central region of south-central France which last hosted a stage 35 years ago. In 1964, French rivals Jacques Anquetil and Raymond Poulidor contested a memorable fight to the summit.
The first rest day follows in Clermont-Ferrand on July 10.
After cutting through the Beaujolais wine region, there is a big climb of 17.4 kilometers (10.8 miles) on stage 13 up Grand Colombier in the Jura region, where defending Tour champion Egan Bernal cracked in 2020.
The Alps will test tired climbers and offer contenders further opportunities to attack on difficult treks such as up Joux Plane on stage 14 and Croix Fry on stage 15, which ends with a hilltop finish at Saint-Gervais Mont-Blanc.
Riders have a rest day before facing a difficult and hilly 22-kilometer (13.6-mile) time trial, then a mammoth mountain stage on the 17th stage, the hardest of the race. The last of four climbs is a 28.4-kilometer (17.6-mile) slog up Col de la Loze, before sweeping downhill to the Courchevel ski station which hosts World Cup slalom races.
Two sprint stages follow before six short but sharp climbs on the penultimate stage from Belfort to Le Markstein ski station in the Vosges region.
As usual the race ends with a processional stage on the Champs-Elysees that is usually only contested by sprinters.
Belgian rider Wout van Aert could be an outsider for the win. He won the green jersey for best sprinter but showcased his all-around ability with several exciting attacks last year.
The eight-stage race covers 956 kilometers (594 miles), starting from Clermont-Ferrand. It features two mountain stages, including a summit finish on the renowned Tourmalet climb on the penultimate stage, and ends with a time trial in Pau.
Lutgring fourth, Carpenter sixth at state mountain biking champs at Spring Valley
The scene at Colorado Mountain College’s Spring Valley campus on Saturday resembled a mix between a World Cup ski race and soccer match.
Sounds of cowbells, vuvuzela horns and even a few disco-themed songs wafted in the pre-storm wind, as more than 840 mountain bikers circumnavigated the rugged trails and fans lined the course, many in ‘70s costumes, for the Colorado High School Cycling League Mountain Bike State Championships.
The winter storm that hit Saturday night and into Sunday condensed what was to be a two-day event into a single day.
Athletes representing 86 teams from across Colorado, as well as from Cheyenne and Laramie, South Dakota, and Taos, N. M., took part in boys and girls categories for freshmen, sophomores, junior varsity and the marquee varsity races.
Locally, six varsity racers cracked the top 20 in their respective events, led by senior Glenwood Springs Dirt Demon Chloe Lutgring, who finished fourth among the girls. Roaring Fork-Carbondale senior Corbin Carpenter was sixth in the boys race, closely followed by Colorado Rocky Mountain School sophomore Canyon Cherney in seventh and Roaring Fork junior Samuel Friday, who had a breakout race to finish eighth.
“My goal was just to go all out at the start, because if you don’t have a good place going into the single track, you’re kind of screwed,” said Lutgring, who came into the state championships seeded third.
She knew the state-level competition would be stiffer, and wasn’t disappointed with her fourth-place finish on a dry, dusty, chewed-up course that presented some extra challenges.
“I almost went down on one lap, but I was able to catch myself,” Lutgring said. “I tried not to focus on saving energy, just because there are so many places on the course to recover. But I was happy with my result and didn’t leave anything out there, so that’s all that matters.”
Freshman phenom Kira Mullins from Columbine completed the three-lap, 14.4-mile course in 1 hour, 19.07 minutes to win the state championship. Durango’s Riley Houston burst past Leadville’s Rose Horning down the finish chute to take second in 1:19:42 to Horning’s 1:19:43, and Lutgring was a close fourth in 1:19:49.
Roaring Fork’s Carpenter was the league points leader for the boys coming into the state competition and was among the favorites to win a state championship.
After being sick last week, however, he entered the race less than 100%.
“I gave it my all, and I’m still pretty happy with it,” he said of his sixth-place showing in 1:06:29. “I just wanted to try to stick behind the lead pack and see if I could make some moves, but that didn’t go as planned.”
Eventual champion Nicholas Konecny from Summit and independent rider Kade Kreikemeier shot out of the cannon to take a commanding lead on the first lap. Konecny ultimately had the edge with a time of 1:03:38, followed by Kreikemeier in 1:03:41, Eagle Valley’s Landen Stovall in third (1:05:03), Steamboat’s Aidan Haak in fourth (1:05:12), Benjamin Bravman of Golden in fifth (1:05:21), then Carpenter.
Carpenter said he was surprised and excited to see Friday among the top riders.
“I’m so proud of him, he’s doing really well,” Carpenter said of his teammate.
Friday eventually fell off the pace some, finishing eighth in 1:07:13, just behind CRMS’ Cherney in 1:07:01.
“I came in (ranked) 15th, so I just wanted to do a little bit better than that,” Friday said. “I had a good mindset to try to get out there without thinking about it too much. Then I started to think about it.”
With fatigue setting in, he faded on the final lap but was happy to hold on for a top-10 spot.
“I was so sore,” he said. “My arms were asleep, my legs were burning, and it was really hard. But, yeah, I’m happy.”
Additional top-20 finishers among local competitors included CRMS sophomore Lucas Berry and Glenwood sophomore Dange Humphrey, who were 16th (1:08:26) and 17th (1:08:36), respectively.
CMC bike boogie
Despite the weather challenges, the first-time mountain bike race venue was a hit, said Glenwood Springs Dirt Demons coach and CMC Foundation Regional Development Officer Jeanne Golay.
“I would say it far exceeded our expectations,” Golay said. “We know what to expect now when this crazy, colorful circus comes to town.”
CMC has a verbal commitment from the league to host another race next fall, possibly even state again.
“The league is just amazing,” she said. “They come in with their turnkey and say, ‘show us your venue, show us your fields, and we’ll do the magic.”
In the future, the progressive trail system could allow for an easier course for the lower race divisions, and a more difficult course for varsity, Golay said.
And the setting was perfect for spectating, she said, with the mass start on the north soccer field and team camps set up in the middle.
“I saw so many people from the Roaring Fork Valley who came up to check it out, from former team members and parents to business owners in the community and some people who’ve just recently moved here and didn’t even know about Spring Valley,” she said.
During the post-race banquet, CMC President Carrie Hauser announced that the Spring Valley campus plans to host a collegiate-level club mountain biking team starting next year.
The team would participate in the Rocky Mountain Collegiate Cycling Conference, and it’s another opportunity for high school athletes to continue their sport into college, Hauser said.
“We’ve hosted events at the Leadville campus, and Spring Valley with its natural terrain and the work we’ve put into the trail system, it just makes a lot of sense,” she said.
Colorado High School Cycling League Executive Director Kate Rau from Boulder said Spring Valley was an ideal venue for the state championships.
An ideal venue needs to have challenging trails, a good place for teams to stage, parking, emergency access, nearby camping and adequate infrastructure in town, she said.
“It couldn’t have gone better,” Rau said. “We’re so grateful for Colorado Mountain College to put this whole venue together and really rallying around our needs.”
The league’s partnership with CMC as a race venue at Leadville began in 2015, and talks started then about building a race course at Spring Valley, she said.
“And here it is, dreams do come true,” Rau said. “We said, if you build it, we will come. And we did.”
Aspen Cycling Club results: Butterhack Circuit MTB race from Aug. 31, 2022
ASPEN CYCLING CLUB — WEEKLY RACE RESULTS BUTTERHACK CIRCUIT From Wednesday, Aug. 31, 2022 Men’s A 4 Laps — Wave 2 1—0:59:06—SHANKS, Cooper—Basalt Bike & Ski 2—1:00:02—LOGAN, Levi—WE Development 3—1:00:22—KOSTER, Ryan—Culver’s Glenwood Springs 4 —1:02:31—JACOBI, Kevin—Limelight Hotels 5—1:02:36—PETERSON, Butch—RFMBA Trail Agents 6—1:12:26—SHAFER, Brendan Women’s A 4 Laps — Wave 3 1—1:20:32—VALE, Jill Men’s B 4 Laps — Wave 3 1—1:07:15—RISPOLI, Maxwell—The Meatballs 2—1:08:29—SMITH, Larry—Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork 3—1:08:51—ADAMS, Casey—Basalt Bike & Ski 4—1:09:42—WILLIAMS, Brian 5—1:10:16—FUNK, Adam—The Meatballs 6—1:12:27—CIBULSKY, John 7—1:14:40—KLUG, Chris 8—1:23:40—CHERNOSKY, David—Groove Subaru Women 50+ 2 Laps — Wave 1 1—0:45:04—SHAW, Sara—Limelight Hotels Men 50+ 2 Laps — Wave 1 1—0:42:33—TRANTOW, George—Valley Ortho 2—0:43:20—COOK, Miles Men 60+ 2 Laps — Wave 1 1—0:38:58—GIBANS, Jon—Basalt Bike & Ski 2—0:39:31—ARMSTRONG, Mike—Basalt Bike & Ski 3—0:43:41—SLIVA, Glenn—Basalt Bike & Ski Men 70+ 2 Laps — Wave 1 1—0:49:57—JONES, Larry High School Girls 2 Laps — Wave 1 1—0:38:45—HEATH, Megan—RFC Pinnacle Junior MTB Team High School Boys 2 Laps — Wave 1 1—0:34:15—CHISM, Cole—Basalt High School MTB Team/Pinnacle Junior MTB Team
Race marshals: Mike Fass, Hana, Jeff Handwerk, Jess Jacobi, Dyke Shaw, Kevin Heath
Results may also be viewed at www.aspencyclingclub.org. Questions about results should be directed to email@example.com.
Aspen Cycling Club results: Maroon Bells time trial road race from Aug. 24, 2022
ASPEN CYCLING CLUB — WEEKLY RACE RESULTS MAROON BELLS TIME TRIAL From Wednesday, Aug. 24, 2022 Men’s A 1—0:28:04—SHANKS, Cooper—Basalt Bike & Ski 2—0:29:44—INKINEN, Sami 3—0:30:40—KOSTER, Ryan—Culver’s Glenwood Springs 4—0:30:56—JACOBI, Kevin—Limelight Hotels 5—0:30:58—CARR, Chris 6—0:32:09—PETERSON, Butch—RFMBA Trail Agents Women’s A 1 —0:39:48—URBONAVICIUTE PURKENE, Ieva Men’s B 1—0:33:06—FUNK, Adam—The Meatballs 2—0:33:45—SMITH, Larry—Waldorf School on the Roaring Fork 3—0:33:46—ADAMS, Casey—Basalt Bike & Ski 4—0:34:21—PURKENAS, Algirdas 5—0:34:40—RISPOLI, Maxwell—The Meatballs 6—0:34:47—WILLIAMS, Brian 7—0:34:55—CIBULSKY, John 8—0:40:27—CHERNOSKY, David—Groove Subaru 9—0:40:58—KIERNAN, Ryan—Culver’s Glenwood Springs Men’s C 1—0:38:55—MERRILL, Nate 2—0:47:08—MURPHY, Mark—Basalt Bike & Ski Women 50+ 1—0:42:45—SHAW, Sara—Limelight Hotels Men 50+ 1—0:38:32—TUCKER, Brad 2—0:41:16—RYAN, Chris 3—0:49:59—CHILSON, Chip—Aspen Sports Performance/Litespeed Women 60+ 1—0:45:06—CALLAHAN, Kathleen—Limelight Hotels Men 60+ 1—0:35:59—SKARVAN, Erik 2—0:37:21—SIRIANNI, Phil—Basalt Bike & Ski 3—0:39:25—SMITH, Wade 4—0:44:28—TOLLEFSON, Jon 5—0:44:47—HOLUB, Ed Men 70+ 1—0:36:03—KREUZ, Kevin 2—0:38:08—HANDWERK, Jeff 3—0:42:18—OLENICK, Bob 4—0:47:44—ADAMSON, John—Twisted Spokes Racing 5—0:51:36—CROSS, Ed—Limelight Hotels 6—0:51:45—JONES, Larry 7—0:55:37—GRICE, John DNS—LYONS, Steve—Basalt Bike & Ski High School Girls 1—0:39:03—WEISS, Elsie—Aspen High School MTB Team/AVSC 2—0:42:04—HEATH, Megan—RFC Pinnacle Junior MTB Team
Results may also be viewed at www.aspencyclingclub.org. Questions about results should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aspen’s Gaston second in famed Leadville Trail 100 MTB race as Swenson repeats
LEADVILLE — Looking back on his 105-mile tour of the “cloud city,” no doubt Keegan Swenson is thinking there was a second or two he left out on the course. Whether it really matters is up for debate.
The Life Time Grand Prix leader demonstrated his dominance over the professional long-distance mountain bike and gravel scene on Saturday, blasting the Leadville Trail 100 MTB’s most elite field in race history with a 14 minute, 30 second win, his second straight. He narrowly missed becoming the third athlete in the race’s 28-year running to go sub-six hours, finishing in a time of 6:00:01.
“It was good. It was a fast one today,” Swenson said. “I felt for awhile I was going to be pretty close to the record. We got close. It was a lot faster than last year and considering I was solo all the way back from Columbine — I was happy with it.”
Swenson made his move shortly after leading a group of 10 cyclists up the famed Columbine climb to the course’s high point and turnaround.
“Going up Columbine, everyone has their place and there isn’t much attacking going up. I kind of knew what I could do and just did that from the bottom and was going to see who could stay,” Swenson said.
“I figured Howie (Grotts) would be there the longest and he was. Alexey (Vermeulen) was also with us for a while. And then eventually those guys kind of fell off and they were solo as well.”
At the top, Swenson was 2:47 ahead of Grotts, who had another 75 seconds on Vermeulen. Cole Paton was in fourth, 30 seconds back of the Boulder-based rider, and Aspen’s John Gaston was 21 seconds off Paton in fifth.
Behind those five, Matthew Beers, Samuel Gilletly, Lachlan Morton, Peter Stetina and Lance Haidet were filed together. UCI World Team EF Education–EasyPost pro rider Alex Howes, who led at the 40-mile checkpoint, lost ground and was separated from the leaders for good.
Turning around, Swenson was able to view the devastation he’d inflicted on the peloton.
“I could see the group was quite blown up on the way back,” he said. “I was pretty confident I could make it back (to Leadville) solo; I didn’t think there’d be any big groups chasing me. There’s really only a few sections of road where it’s straight and fast where a group really makes a big difference, otherwise it’s not too big of a deal.”
When asked if he expected to be riding alone for the final 55 miles, Swenson said, “I wasn’t sure. Howie’s won this race three times and I think he’s also one of the best climbers in the world at this altitude. Yeah, so I knew the pace I could ride and I was like, ‘If Howie stays with me, great, then we’ll go faster on the way back. If not, then I’ll be solo and I’ll see what I can do.’”
Heading out of Twin Lakes at 60 miles, Swenson’s lead had grown to almost five minutes. Meanwhile, Gaston had fought his way back to Grotts — who elected to group up in lieu of riding alone — and Vermeulen along the flat ‘pipeline’ section. Heading up the inhumanely steep ‘powerline’ stretch, Swenson held a nine-minute advantage in front of the trio. In fifth, just 10-seconds back, was Paton.
Swenson gained more ground up the course’s iconic climb. By the time he exited Hagerman Pass onto Turquoise Lake Road, his lead had ballooned to 10:45 with approximately 16 miles remaining. Grotts and Gaston hit Turquoise Lake Road together, in second and third, respectively. Fully aware he was in the midst of the mountain bike race of his life, Gaston said he “tried to not think too far ahead” to prevent the magnitude of the moment from getting to him.
“There’s how many pros here?” he rhetorically asked in a humorously self-depreciating tone of his mindset near the end. “I mean, I’m confident in myself and I thought I’d maybe have a shot at top 10, but to be able to hang in there and keep making the groups was kind of crazy.”
Gaston said he was gapped on every climb throughout the race. He was able to gain ground on the flats and descents.
“Just the way this race works with tactics — I was very fortunate (to come back),” he said.
In the race’s final hour, Gaston hung with Grotts, a three-time Leadville Trail 100 MTB champion from 2017-2019.
“I had zero confidence whatsoever in beating him; I was going to ask for a truce,” Gaston joked.
Going up the gradual grade of the ‘boulevard’ road, just a mile from the finish, the Aspen ski mountaineering star pulled away, notching a shocking second-place finish that even he couldn’t believe.
“Bewilderment. Astonishment,” he said when asked what his thoughts were as he crossed the finish line in 6:14:31.
The U.S. skimo team member said the performance won’t change his priorities.
“I definitely prefer spending my summers on the bike instead of running, and I’ve kind of figured out how to make that transfer to Skimo,” he said.
The Snowmass 50, which he won, and Leadville were the only two races Gaston planned to contest this year on the bike.
“I gotta start kind of gearing up for winter,” he said. “My whole life I never thought I’d ever get a podium at Leadville. Ever. Not even a pipe dream. So this is crazy to me. Honestly, I’m still not even sure how it happened.”
Gaston also raced Leadville in 2019.
“I was in the second group, not the first group,” he said of that year. “This time around, I was like, ‘I’m going to go until I blow.’”
Standing next to Grotts at the finish, the reality of his second-place finish was barely sinking in.
“This was so far beyond my expectations; I mean, I’ve followed these guys’ careers for like a decade,” he said.
With the field comprised mostly of Life Time Grand Prix athletes — the nation’s 30 best males and females competing on a six-race circuit for a $250,000 prize — Gaston’s win is particularly sweet. When asked if he’d compete in the circuit next year if offered a spot, he said, “I would love to do some of it — I mean, I’ve never done a gravel race in my life.”
“Skimo is still my best sport on an international level,” he continued. “For now, I’m still very much focused on that, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t fit in some longer races. This one does fit in really well with building in that big endurance base during the summer anyway.”
In the women’s race, Salt Lake City rider Hannah Otto took down defending champion Rose Grant. Otto finished in 7:24:07 with Grant in second in 7:29:37 and Haley Smith in third in 7:41:53.
Durango’s Alexis Skarda took the race out hard. At 26 miles, she led by 2:20 over a group of three — Otto, Sturm and Grant. Smith sat in fifth going into the pipeline double-track, two minutes off of Grant. By the start of the Goat Trail at mile 48, Skarda’s lead had dwindled to just 28 seconds over Otto, who left Grant and Sturm on the climb up Columbine. At the turnaround, the race had a new leader.
Otto would stretch her lead to 2:40 by mile 74, with Grant gaining ground on the fading Skarda. At the return pipeline visit, the defending champion was just 59 seconds back from the Durango cyclist. Entering the powerline climb, she had moved in front, but Otto, with her 3:56 lead, held too much of an advantage to overcome.
Airline Climbing Trail only steps away from fall completion at Sky Mountain Park
The Airline Climbing Trail project is edging toward completion this fall.
Two Roaring Fork Outdoor Volunteer projects are scheduled Aug. 13 and Aug. 27 to assist with finish work, rock armoring and seeding of disturbed areas, according Ted O’Brien, manager of Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Resource and Trails. The events will be led in collaboration with Open Space and Trails and the Roaring Fork Mountain Biking Association.
On Aug. 13, volunteers will be refining the trails cut by Open Space and Trails. That process involves removing large roots and punji sticks (hazardous sticks poking up near the trail resulting from the cutting process), finishing the back slope, raking the trail, cutting sight-lines and completing any other finishing touches on the trail, according to RFOV program director Melissa Daniels.
After the first RFOV trail workday, the bottom third of the climbing trail will likely be opened to the public, according to O’Brien. The upper two-thirds will remain closed and unusable until the fall opening date.
At the second trail workday, on Aug. 27, volunteers will be focusing more on rock work for the trail.
“We always have a good little group of volunteers that really enjoy rock work, so we’re saving a lot of that work to do with volunteers,” O’Brien said.
Following the conclusion of the second workday, RFOV and OST will evaluate the progress and consider adding another day of trail work if necessary, according to Daniels.
RFOV will partner with RFMBA and Sacred Cycle, which works to provide “affordable counseling for survivors of sexual trauma through mountain biking,” according to the organization’s website. Members of the partner organizations will join the 40 volunteers who signed up through RFOV, according to Daniels.
“The thing that I really love about working here is that we really value partnerships with other organizations and we believe that we don’t get anything done independently; everything is done in partnership with other people,” Daniels said. “We wanted to spread the word about what they do and engage with their communities.”
The climbing trail is built parallel to the existing Airline Trail, which will be restricted to downhill traffic once the new trail opens. The new climbing trail will be for uphill bicycle traffic and bidirectional foot traffic.
The plans for the climbing trail were drawn up last year in response to urging by RFMBA, one of the major shareholders for Sky Mountain Park, according to O’Brien.
“It was a concern that RFMBA really pushed over the years and we got to finally address that push during the update to the Sky Mountain Park management plan,” O’Brien said.
During the process for creating an updated master plan for Sky Mountain Park, which occurs every five years, RFMBA voiced their concerns during the public comment period.
“Everything we do is based on public comment and the public process,” O’Brien said.
In the past, the existing Airline Trail has been used for both uphill and downhill traffic. The Sky Mountain Park saw its greatest usage in 2020 with 79,000 visitors, according to the management plan. The most common usage of the park is for mountain biking.
“With the amount of use the park gets, having one bidirectional trail invited the opportunity for conflict or collision to occur on that trail,” O’Brien said.
Although no collisions were ever officially reported, O’Brien said OST heard “through the grapevine” about some minor collisions occurring on the trail.
The major challenge for the project, according to O’Brien, was clearing out the thick vegetation that grew where the trail will be. OST’s trails and maintenance crew began that process in mid-July, finishing it last week. On Aug. 2, the outside contractor for the project, Gumption Trail Works, began machine work on the trail.
“We’re moving along, progressing … ahead of schedule so we’re happy about that,” O’Brien said.
The Roaring Fork community has been very supportive of the project, according to Daniels.
“I’m really excited that there’s so much community enthusiasm for this trail,” Daniels said. “I know it’s been a long time coming and people have spent a lot of time working on getting this open and so we’re really excited to be working on it. We hope to get it open for people as soon as possible.”
Anna Meyer is an editorial intern at The Aspen Times for part of the summer. She will be a sophomore at Vassar College this fall.
Gaston outduels Hamilton to win annual Snowmass 50 mountain bike race
In a titanic battle of 35-year-old local superstars, Aspen’s John Gaston outdueled Basalt’s Simi Hamilton on Saturday to win the fourth iteration of the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race. Formerly called the Power of Four, the Aspen Skiing Co.-produced event is a 50-mile trek involving two 25-mile laps around Snowmass Ski Area, beginning and finishing on Fanny Hill.
Gaston, one of the country’s premier ski mountaineering athletes who co-founded Strafe Outerwear alongside his brother, finished with a time of 4 hours, 36 minutes, 28 seconds. Hamilton, the Aspen-raised Olympic cross-country skier who retired after the 2020-21 World Cup season, finished second in 4:49:30.1.
This was hardly Gaston’s first local win. He also took home the Snowmass 50 crown the last time he competed, back in 2020, winning in 4:08:13. Denver’s Thomas Herman won in both 2018 and 2019.
Finishing third overall on Saturday was 20-year-old Aspen product George Beck, another rising star in both skimo and mountain biking, in 4:56:23. Denver’s Bucky Schafer, 40, finished just off the podium in 4:59:04.5.
In the women’s 50-mile race on Saturday, 41-year-old pro Crystal Anthony took the win in 5:45:36.1. Coming from Bentonville, Arkansas, Anthony has frequented local Aspen races in recent years, also winning the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race back in 2020.
Finishing second on Saturday was Snowmass local Caroline Tory, 32, in 5:49:05.5, while Utah’s Nicole Tittensor, 36, was third in 6:23:18.8. Tittensor won the women’s race last summer in 5:50:11. Just off the podium on Saturday was local rider Rachel Beck, mother of George Beck, in 6:43:08.9.
A rider navigates the course during the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, at Snowmass Ski Area. Jeremy Swanson/Aspen Skiing Co.
Racers take off at the start of the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, at Snowmass Ski Area. Jeremy Swanson/Aspen Skiing Co.
Snowmass local Caroline Tory competes in the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, in Snowmass Village. She finished second in the women’s 50-mile race in 5:49:05. Jeremy Swanson/Aspen Skiing Co.
Crystal Anthony, of Bentonville, Ark., competes in the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, in Snowmass Village. She took the women’s 50-mile race win in 5:45:36. Jeremy Swanson/Aspen Skiing Co.
Aspen’s George Beck competes in the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, in Snowmass Village. He finished third in the 50-mile race in 4:56:23. Jeremy Swanson/Aspen Skiing Co.
Basalt’s Simi Hamilton competes in the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, in Snowmass Village. The Aspen-raised Olympic cross-country skier finished second in the 50-mile race in 4:49:30. Jeremy Swanson/Aspen Skiing Co.
Aspen’s John Gaston competes in the Snowmass 50 mountain bike race on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2022, in Snowmass Village. Gaston won the 50-mile race in 4:36:28. Jeremy Swanson/Aspen Skiing Co.
In the 25-mile race, where riders complete just a single lap, 14-year-old Quinn Carpenter of Carbondale won in 2:48:56.1. He held off Aspen’s Taylor Rutt, 31, who was second in 2:56:08.5, and third-place finisher Chris Lane, 55, of Basalt (2:56:42.7).
The women’s 25-mile race win went to Carbondale’s Laura Hutchinson, 25, in 3:36:29.6. Erin Glen was second in 3:52:20.2 and Aspen’s Dana Laughren was third in 4:08:36.3.
Winning the team race, where each rider completes one of the 25-mile loops, was the duo of Tristan Trantow and Will Karrow in 5:16:49.