Fresh Air: Why many Aspen cyclists love the USA Pro Challenge
The Aspen Times
Many Aspen cyclists love watching athletes perform at the top of their sport during the USA Pro Challenge on the very roads and trails they ride.
Will Goldie of Ute City Cycles on Main Street said as a rider, it’s impressive to see.
“Just standing at the finish line (on Wednesday), having them pass us, you could feel the power,” Goldie said.
Goldie has noticed a high level of interest in Aspen, including among the shop’s clientele.
“We consider ourselves good riders,” Goldie said. “We ride the pass all the time, and then they do it in one hour.”
Having large gatherings along the route, such as at the top of Independence Pass, makes the race feel like the Tour de France and other bigger events, Goldie said. Longtime Aspen resident Gerry Sullivan watched the race on the pass both days, cycling to points where he could watch the racers climb to the top of the pass each day.
A 45-year Aspen resident who’s been riding the pass since 1971, Sullivan said it’s a treat to follow the “broom wagon” back into town.
“It’s nice not having any cars coming up or looking over your shoulder,” he said.
While he is impressed with the Independence Pass stages, Sullivan said he also rode to a spot where he could watch the circuit stage between Aspen and Snowmass the past two years. Sullivan has won local races on that route.
“There was a lot more going on with that,” he said, referring to the festivities during the circuit stage, which was the start of the seven-day event two years in a row and lasted several hours.
This year, the festivities were alive and well, though, and the athletes were passing on the cycling bug to the younger generation at the finish line Wednesday. After Connor Allen, 12, said he liked the BMC team’s water bottles, one of the team members gave him one, and he had more than 15 athletes sign it. He even took a selfie with Taylor Phinney.
“They were totally nice and excited to have them there,” said Connor’s mom, Kim Allen, of the athletes.
The USA Pro Challenge continues today with a time trial in Breckenridge. Follow it at http://www.usaprocyclingchallenge.com.