ACRA steers Aspen bike festival toward June dates | AspenTimes.com

ACRA steers Aspen bike festival toward June dates

Janet UrquhartThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – A four-day bicycling festival in Aspen next summer is a great idea – depending on when it takes place.That, at least, was the message the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board of directors gave organizer Craig Canon, who pitched plans for his Spin Sports Festival to the group Tuesday, looking to secure their support as he seeks city and county approval for the event.The Boulder resident had proposed an Aug. 4-7 festival, timed to take advantage of Aspen’s summer vibe yet avoid conflicting with other area special events and competitions that draw pro bicyclists elsewhere. The idea, Canon said, is to pick a date that will meld with the return of a pro cycling stage event to Colorado – an idea part-time Aspen resident and bicyclist champ Lance Armstrong is promoting.Canon envisions a family event that brings visitors for several days of activities, including a manufacturers’ expo and three days of distance rides, hill climbs and fun rides for both road and mountain bikers.”This is like the Food and Wine for outdoor sports,” he said, in reference to Aspen’s hugely successful June draw, the Aspen Food and Wine Classic.ACRA board members needed little convincing about the value of the event, but the timing was another matter.”I don’t think you have anybody at the table who doesn’t think it’s a great event,” said Jeff Gorsuch, a retail representative to the board.But Canon wants to make the festival a long-term annual event and board members urged him to pick a spot on the calendar when Aspen can both use the business and better accommodate the influx of visitors.Lodging isn’t readily available in early August, which is already a traditionally busy time, and rates will be at their highest, members said.”I’m full the first week of August. That’s not when I need the business,” said John Speers, general manager of The Little Nell hotel.Some members suggested Canon time his event to coincide with the May weekend that already features the Aspen Cycling Club’s downtown criterium race and the annual Ride for the Pass on Independence Pass. Others suggested late August, after the Aspen Music Festival has concluded, or any weekend in June except Food & Wine weekend.With this year’s lagging reservations, on the other hand, the event would have worked well in early August, said Bill Tomcich, president of reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.”This event would have been welcomed by a lot of people this year,” he said. The latter part of August would also work well, Tomcich added, noting “a huge hole in our bookings” in late August.But Canon appeared amenable to considering June and said after the meeting that he was checking the feasibility of June dates.He said he wants to solidify the dates as quickly as possible so he can secure the local permits and start signing on sponsors.”It seems to me June would be a wonderful time,” said Warren Klug, board chairman and manager of the Aspen Square Hotel. “I would be thrilled to be part of it at the hotel.”The Spin Sports Festival would be presented by the nonprofit Spinhead Foundation; its mission is to improve road safety for both bicyclists and drivers, Canon said. Planning for the Aspen festival has been evolving for several years and the event website actually notes dates for a 2009 festival, which did not take place. For more information, go to http://www.spinsportsfestival.com.janet@aspentimes.com