Aspen Gran Fondo taking off Saturday |

Aspen Gran Fondo taking off Saturday

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times

The Aspen Gran Fondo, a supported group bike ride, will take off for the 2015 edition on Saturday morning at Paepcke Park.

The 54-mile group ride is sponsored by Aspen Silver Cycling and the city of Aspen in partnership with the USA Pro Challenge, the annual bicycle stage race in Colorado

Aspen Silver Cycling is the local support organization for the USA Pro Challenge, which will hit Aspen again in August.

First, the Saturday group ride will serve as a fundraiser for the local USA Pro Challenge efforts.

And the lineup this year includes top pro cyclists like Cam Worf, Gus Morton and members of the Hincapie Development Team.

Part-time Aspen resident Lance Armstrong also will join the group ride Saturday.

“We want to kick off the summer of cycling with the Gran Fondo,” said Nancy Lesley, the city’s director of special events. “We have some incredible riders who will participate. They are more than willing to help, and we’re so grateful.”

She said the 54-mile outing will be staged in the spirit of gran fondo: “It’s a ride, not a race.”

She said, by definition, the gran fondo will be a group ride to celebrate the summer season.

Riders with the Hincapie team will be riding and sharing their experiences with the Aspen Gran Fondo riders.

The namesake of the team, George Hincapie, won the first USA Pro Challenge race that finished in downtown Aspen in 2011.

Saturday’s ride (entry is $100) is a supported, 50-mile route that starts at Paepcke Park at 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

The route will take the cyclists to Owl Creek Road where they will ride to Brush Creek Road in Snowmass.

From there, they will ride to the highway 82/Intercept Lot and take the underpass iunder highway 82 to the Aspen Mass Trail.

The Aspen Mass Trial will yield the firt aid station at the entrance to Jaffee Park.

The route then goes through Woody Creek on Upper River Road to a left tun on Gerbaz Way.

Cyclists then will take the underpass under Highway 82 toward Watson Divide.

The route then will go up the rough and challenging Watson Divide, including two miles of steep uphill and downhill on gravel surfaces.

Watson Divide will take the cyclists to Snowmass Creek Road for a left turn and ride to the Aspen Deaf Camp — the turnaround.

Then, it’s back down the road to Capital Creek Road and a ride up to the monastery for another turnaround.

Back down Capital Creek to Highway 82 and the left into the park and ride for an aid station.

The route will cross Highway 82 to Lower Rive Road to Upper Rive Road and eventually back down McLain Flats to Cemetery Lane and back to Paepcke Park in Aspen.

Registration is available online at and through the Aspen Gran Fondo website.

For additional entry information, contract Sandra Doebler at (970-429-2093).