Supporting the Downtown Criterium
A couple of months ago, a pair of locals made front-page headlines by going in front of City Council to complain about the Downtown Criterium event that was hosted by the city events department. These two locals contend that the cycling community does not support the criterium because it is too expensive and too fast for local racers. I wish to go on the record in support of the Downtown Criterium. The event was fantastic, inexpensive, and an excellent showcase of both local and out-of-town speed and skill.
To address specifically the two points above: The Downtown Criterium, even with the additional expense of a one-day license, is still the least expensive of any of the events offered locally. The initial entry fee is $20, with an extra expense of $10 for a one-day license if a rider didn’t have one. Compare this to any other local race and you’ll see that it’s the least expensive by a substantial margin.
Also, for the record, local town series events do not count, as nobody can put on “real” races for $5 to $15 and everyone knows this. A quick comparison of comparable events finds that registration fees are typically at or above $40, including the previous day’s Ride for The Pass, with which nobody seems to have a problem.
My second counterpoint is in regard to the event marginalizing local racers. I was there all day, voluntarily announcing these events, and had the privilege to call victories by locals Jessica Phillips in the Women’s Open, Joel Mischke in the Cat. 3 race and Charlie Eckhart in the 45+ event. In addition, several other locals enjoyed fast, competitive racing against some of the best in the state. The brand-new Ajax Tavern team led by Jan Koorn put on a great show in the Cat. 4 race and came very close to securing victory with a late breakaway attempt by JP Hutchins.
This was the first year of hopefully many successful seasons for the Downtown Criterium as a sanctioned event. This official sanctioning brought better overall organization, a fact which can only bode well for future growth. Let it be known that I am in 100 percent support of the city of Aspen’s event department. They have done amazing things in working with local organizers of other events, such as America’s Uphill, the Golden Leaf Half Marathon, the Owl Creek Chase/Aspen Nordic Festival, the High Country Triathlon/Duathlon and many others.
This new level of cooperation between local organizers and the city has brought many new positives and is a fantastic development for local sports enthusiasts. Even though NIMBYism is still very prevalent in our town, let’s continue to work against this simplistic, isolationist approach for a more healthy town and state. I would hope that in the future, the two loud locals would chose to work with the organizers instead of attacking them.
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