Cycling Club members back in the saddle
The Aspen Cycling Club’s 2005 summer race series kicks off Wednesday night (May 4) with a five mile individual time-trial east of Aspen on Highway 82.The Difficult Campground-Preserve-Difficult Campground out-and-back race is the first of 22 races in the summer-long series, which features a race – 11 road and 11 mountain – pretty much every Wednesday night through Sept. 17.Now in its 18th season, the series has become a fixture in the valley’s cycling landscape. About 65 to 70 cyclists participate week-in, week-out, and newcomers and visitors are always welcome.Charlie Tarver, owner of the Hub of Aspen, the title sponsor of the series, said Wednesday’s race is a perfect introduction for novice racers thinking about giving it a try.”The good thing about the time trial is that for people who aren’t sure about this race thing, first of all you race one at a time and you’re not in a pack of people, so you’re safer,” Tarver said. “And it’s a short time-trial. So it’s short and easy and by yourself, so for people who are on the edge, it’s not very intimidating. The race itself takes about 15 minutes.”As usual, the series features multiple divisions – by age-group, gender and competitiveness.”I think one of the reasons the series is so popular is that there’s categories for every rider,” said Tarver, listing off juniors, seniors, veterans and masters. “And there’s even grand masters because people in this valley just don’t know when to quit. And, in fact, the senior division – for 18 to 35 year olds – is still dominated by guys that are over 40. And we keep adding categories because the club continues to represent a more and more diverse group.”Every Wednesday race starts at 6 p.m. (For a complete list of races, check out http://www.aspencyclingclub.org.) Registration costs $130 for the whole series for club members or, per race, $5 for members and $10 for non-members.”It’s probably one of the least expensive race clubs in the country, and it’s plenty competitive,” said Tarver, himself a former overall series champion and regular competitor. “A lot of races here are harder than most races in Colorado. And they say if you can win in Aspen, you’re probably doing well on the national level.”Former overall series men’s champions include Charlie Eckart, Butch Peterson and Danny DiMaria, all of whom are expected to duel again this season. Then there’s top guns like Len Zanni, Julian Underwood, Rishi Grewal and Tommy Hayles, who show up occasionally and always contend.On the women’s side, top riders include Heather Lafferty, Kelley Mattingly, Valerie Alexander, Molly Jones and Virginia Betty.Among the juniors, look for Aspen’s nordic superstars on bicycles – Noah Hoffman, Brandon Cooper and Simi Hamilton.”It seems everyone’s all fired up about riding and racing again,” said Tarver.Tim Mutrie’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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Normalcy will be few and far between this ski season, so Aspen’s Simi Hamilton’s traditional slow start brought a sense of calm to a world that’s mostly in chaos at the moment.