Aspen gears up for USA Pro Cycling Challenge |

Aspen gears up for USA Pro Cycling Challenge

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – Every detail of hosting two days of USA Pro Cycling Challenge action in Aspen that can be planned in advance has been. That leaves the weather and bear activity, along with the vagaries of the race itself, to provide the unforeseen excitement.

For spectators catching the finish of Stage 3 in downtown Aspen on Wednesday, or the start of Stage 4 in town on Thursday morning, there’ll be more to do than mill about. Free music, a pro women’s criterium, just-for-fun local races and a chance to get autographs from the pro cyclists before they depart Thursday are all part of the two-day shindig.

And town will be packed. The race itself takes up a chunk of the available accommodations, but virtually every bit of lodging in Aspen has been booked for Wednesday night – a rarity for the midweek date, according to Bill Tomcich, president of local reservations agency Stay Aspen Snowmass.

“We are just about sold out Wednesday night,” he said. “Just about every hotel room in town is booked.”

Some condos remain available, Tomcich added, and cancellations are always possible. He urged those in search of lodging to call and double check just in case.

Go to for complete details, but here’s a brief rundown of what’s going on Wednesday and Thursday:

Wednesday – 8:30 a.m. street chalking; 11 a.m. Citizen Criterium Race at Main and Galena; 11:45 a.m. kids’ sprint down Main Street; 12:30 p.m. women’s race warm-up; 1 p.m. women’s racing; 2 p.m. Aspen City Council versus Pitkin County commissioners race; 2:15 p.m. stunt bike show in front of Paepcke Park and 3:30 to 4:30 p.m. race finish and awards ceremony. Throughout the day, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., the race festival will be under way in Paepcke Park featuring fun stuff for kids, vendor booths, food and beer gardens. At 6:30 p.m., ’70s cover band Anthem performs a free concert in Wagner Park.

Thursday – The action shifts to Galena Street with the start festival from 9 to 11:30 a.m., including vendor booths and “autograph alley,” where the pros will be signing autographs before the race. The race start time is 11:35 a.m.

Wednesday’s race finish line is on Main Street next to Paepcke Park. The racers will come in on East Cooper Avenue and turn north on Galena Street, east on Hopkins then north on Original, rounding Original Curve and sprinting down Main to the finish. The first riders are expected to arrive at about 3:30 p.m.

Thursday’s 11:35 a.m. start will take racers through the core for 2 1/2 exhibition laps before they bolt for Independence Pass. The start line is in front of the Pitkin County Courthouse on Main Street. Riders will head west to Aspen Street, south to Hyman, north on Mill Street to Hopkins, east for a block and then south on Galena Street to Cooper Avenue and finally east to Original Street to loop back to Main.

While many downtown streets will be blocked off to vehicles for the racing, streets in the residential neighborhoods that aren’t marked with signs designating them for race use are available for public parking. Usual parking rates apply; look for parking meters on each block. The Rio Grande parking garage will be unavailable during the event.

Free parking is available at the Brush Creek intercept lot, with free bus service between the lot and town. Extra buses will operate throughout the valley. Check with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority for impacts to the Hunter Creek and Mountain Valley routes in Aspen as the result of street closures.

Go to for information about highway closures throughout the weeklong Pro Cycling Challenge. On Wednesday, Highway 82 over Independence Pass will be closed between Twin Lakes and the Aspen city limits (not the winter closure gate but the edge of town) between 10:30 a.m. and 6 p.m. The closure is intended to allow up to two hours for spectators to clear the pass after racers move through before it reopens to through traffic.

On Thursday, the pass will be closed on the Aspen side from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. The pass will be closed from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on the Twin Lakes side, according to the Colorado Department of Transportation.

No camping will be permitted at or near the summit of Independence Pass, between mile markers 56 and 66. Day parking only is allowed in that stretch.

As of Monday, VIP tickets were still available for the finish-line events ($500) and Thursday’s start ($150). The packages include catered food, libations, in-town parking, TV coverage in the VIP tent, reserved restroom facilities and premium viewing of the action. Go to for more information.

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