Ride on: Aspen/Snowmass cycling season is underway
When the Rev. Robert de Wetter takes the pulpit Sunday at the Snowmass Rec Center gazebo, he’ll do more than bless the people gathered around him. He’ll bless their bikes, too.
“Bottom line, biking is a huge part of the lives of people in the valley. We are incredibly blessed not only to live in such a stunning place, but to have the opportunity to enjoy it all in so many ways, including biking,” said de Wetter, senior pastor of the Snowmass Chapel. “Just as we do worship services during ski season on mountain, we want to celebrate, honor and give God thanks for biking. We also want to bless all who ride and pray that the season ahead is filled with joy, adventure, savoring all the beauty around us, and for protection.”
And so begins the spring and summer cycling season.
The Blessing of the Bikes, which is slated for noon and includes a 15-minute blessing of each person by name (as well as their bike) followed by a group bike ride, is “just another way we seek to be part of the lives of people wherever they are, whoever they are, whatever they are up to.”
In the Roaring Fork Valley, that includes cycling — road biking, mountain biking and even unicycling — by people of all ages and interests.
Visitors might pedal down the Rio Grande Trail, 20-somethings will grab their townies for Tuesday Cruise Day, children will take a spin in the bowls of the skatepark or on the Crown Mountain BMX track, road bikers will head to the Maroon Bells or Ashcroft and mountain bikers will get the adrenaline going on single-track trails in the Hunter Creek Valley or the downhill courses on Snowmass Ski Area.
And a couple hundred riders will join in an Aspen Cycling Club race.
“For 28 years, since 1988, the Aspen Cycling Club has been offering a low-cost, summer-long series of road and mountain bike races,” said the Cycling Club’s Mike Maple, who’s also well-known on the race circuit. “Every race within a season is unique, and races vary from 10-minute time trials to over 50-mile road races using both classic valley routes and new courses. Participants range in age from 8 to 80, from never-evers to professional cyclists — we try to offer something for everyone.”
During the 2014 season, the Aspen Cycling Club hosted 1,100 starters, including 168 club members and 99 non-members and out-of-town guests.
Of course, you don’t have to get in the saddle to enjoy the area’s biking culture; events such as the USA Pro Cycling Challenge, which rolls through Aspen Aug. 18 and 19, are ideal for spectators.
“It’s a huge party up there. It’s really fun. People will definitely target (the summit of Independence Pass),” said Aspen cycling fan Mike Tierney, when Pro Cycling Challenge organizers announced that the iconic pass will once again be part of the race route this year (twice, as racers will ride over the Pass both coming to and leaving Aspen).
In the past, hundreds of people rode their bikes to the top of the pass to cheer the racers as they power up to the summit.
“All the people riding up from Aspen — that’s the epic nature of it,” added local cyclist and bike guide Erik Skarvan.
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