Bike fest in Aspen closing in on approval |

Bike fest in Aspen closing in on approval

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – The debut of the Spin Sports Festival, a four-day Aspen bicycling event that has been at least five years in the planning stages, may finally become a reality in late June.

Pitkin County, which has reviewed an application for the event for four years running, issued organizer Craig Canon a conditional permit for the June 23-26 event, pending details and approvals that must still be finalized, including permits from Eagle County, the town of Basalt, Aspen Skiing Co. and U.S. Forest Service, according to county planner Mike Kraemer.

The Basalt permit is on the Town Board’s agenda Tuesday; issuance of the permit in Eagle County will be forthcoming, said Robert Narracci, county planning manager there.

The original application proposed capping the event at 2,000 attendees, according to Kraemer, but a 1,500-person cap has been imposed. In addition, road rides will be capped at 500 participants. Multiple mountain bike events, which will all take place at Buttermilk, are capped at 1,000 riders. Use of the ski area requires Skico and Forest Service approval.

Organized camping in conjunction with the festival was initially proposed at the city’s Cozy Point Ranch outside of town, but that has been eliminated, Kraemer said. Festival participants will secure their own accommodations.

Pitkin County commissioners, briefed recently on the festival’s pending permit approval, voiced some concerns.

“This is a very big magnitude event,” said Commissioner Rachel Richards.

Canon, who has persevered for years to make the festival a reality, wants to show local governments that such an event can be run successfully.

“We’re trying to put it on this year so the city and county can see that it’s a viable event that can occur on an annual basis,” he said. “I think it would be a great thing for the town and actually the state to have an event in Aspen for multiple days.”

Canon had originally pushed for August dates – a plan that was rejected by the Aspen City Council back in 2006 and discouraged as recently as last year by the Aspen Chamber Resort Association board of directors. The ACRA board urged open June dates instead, and Canon shifted his focus to an earlier spot on the summer calendar.

The festival website – – outlines a schedule of gatherings and activities, plus road rides up Independence Pass, on Castle Creek Road to Ashcroft and down the Rio Grande Trail to Basalt and/or up Frying Pan Road between Basalt and Ruedi Reservoir.

Commissioner George Newman questioned sending riders up Frying Pan Road, a winding route without much in the way of road shoulders, and plenty of vehicular traffic.

“You’d essentially have to close down that road for that ride,” he said.

The lower part of that ride is in Eagle County, and out of Pitkin County’s purview, Kraemer responded. There won’t be mass starts for the rides, he added, and the Pitkin County permit will require that the event turn riders around at the top of the reservoir.

The rides are all supported with traffic control, aid stations, SAG vehicles and the like, according to the festival website.

Participants are already signing up, according to Canon, though a big promotional push to attract riders won’t occur until the permits are finalized, he said.

A four-day festival pass is $300 until June 6, when the price jumps to $350, according to the website.