Aspen Gran Fondo kicks off summer cycling | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Gran Fondo kicks off summer cycling

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The Aspen Gran Fondo helped kick off the summer cycling season in Aspen on Saturday.

The 54-mile supported group ride was a benefit for the organizing group in Aspen that hosts the USA Pro Challenge stage race in August.

The cyclists left Paepcke Park early Saturday morning, greeted by brilliant sunshine and dry roads — two rare commodities of late in Aspen.

The riders, including part-time Aspen resident Lance Armstrong, rode around the valley with climbs to Snowmass Village and up the rugged Watson Divide gravel/dirt road (and back down).

Australian pro cyclist Cam Wurf also joined the benefit ride Saturday along with members of the Hincapie Development Team, who have been training in the Aspen area.

"We want to kick off the summer of cycling with the Gran Fondo," said Nancy Lesley, the city's director of special events. She extended a special thank you to the pros and cycling icons who offered to help the cause by riding in Saturday's event.

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Saturday's Gran Fondo triggers a busy portion of the cycling season in the Aspen area.

The Aspen Cycling Club has already launched its race schedule, including road events and mountain bike races.

This week, the Aspen Cycling Club will host a popular mountain bike circuit race at Buttermilk/Tiehack.

The Wednesday night race, open to the public as well as club members, is the Butterhack XC Circuit Race. The event starts at the base of Tiehack at 6 p.m.

The race will include youth events Wednesday as well.

Last week, the Aspen Cycling Club staged the Spring Gulch Hill Climb, a road race, outside Carbondale.

Sopris Century

The Roaring Fork Valley will be the host site for the Sopris Century Ride on June 20.

The event also is billed as the Ride forthe Child. It includes a 100-mile course, a 100-kilometer course and a 50K course.

The supported bike ride will benefit Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Fouinded in 1977, CASA provides trained court-appointed volunteer advocated to help abused and neglected children.

The Ride for the Child supports CASA ion Colorado's Ninth Judicial District, which includes Garfield, Pitkin and Rio Blanco counties.

.The event will start and finish at Roaring Fork High SChool in Carbondale.

For info, visit http://www.casaoftheninthorg.

Aspen Invitational

The fourth annual Aspen Invitational Bike Ride will be held the weekend of July 24-25. The 100-kilometer route will cover popular routes in the Aspen area.

The event is a benefit for Microenterprise Bicycle and Business loans for Zambia.

Entry spots are limited.

For more, visit http://www.brake-the-cycle.com.

dstrode@aspentimes.com