Beckwith: Cyclists aren’t so bad |

Beckwith: Cyclists aren’t so bad

Sean Beckwith
The Aspen Times

Among the most perturbing obstacles one can come across while driving around the Aspen and Snowmass area are road cyclists. They’re after deer and elk on the list of driving inconveniences despite their mob mentality. Preschool children have a better handle of the concept of a single-file line than most road cyclists. This is the part where I have to watch my words because cyclists are a fragile bunch. Technically, they have every right to the road as motorists, and pieces such as this one that harp on them slowing traffic prompt a turn of the page.

However, I’m here to compliment cycling and its fans. It takes tremendous devotion to the sport to bike up Independence Pass just to catch a glimpse of the competitors for a few minutes as they begin their descent down the pass. If I were offered some cash, maybe I’d attempt to bike up the pass, though the only people who’d stake money would be friends of mine, and they’d only do it so they could laugh and heckle me during the inevitably failed attempt.

My bike is for transportation and fun, and that’s about it. It makes running errands or getting to work much easier. I’d be all over Tuesday Cruise Day if I didn’t have to work. If you get your kicks riding your bike a ridiculous amount of miles, that’s cool. As Kenny Powers says, “I play real sports; I’m not trying to be the best at working out.”

I will say this, though: It’s one of a few sports I have no interest in trying. It’s much more intricate than it appears at first glance. The way a team works together to help a designated cyclist make a run at the overall victory is fascinating. There’s drafting, pacing and strategizing on how to attack a course. The team dynamic is great. ESPN’s 30 for 30 “Slaying the Badger” about an inter-team rivalry during a Tour de France is a must-watch for any cycling fan.

I ran into some cycling fans watching the race on opening day, and much to my delight, they weren’t wearing spandex. Low blows aside, they were terrific people. They defended Lance Armstrong, not for lying but because the majority of the sport was guilty of the same thing during that era of the sport, according to them. Another fan kept saying “15 seconds” in reference to the leader’s cushion over the other riders. They were pretty grounded, which isn’t always applicable to the typical Aspen tourist.

Town wasn’t a madhouse, either. The evening got busy, but I strolled around during the lunch rush and patios weren’t overflowing. As far as big events play out in Aspen — you know, usually as an excuse to day drink and get sloppy in nice clothes — the Pro Challenge is tame. I also enjoyed the towing extravaganza that went on during the race preparation Tuesday. I believe three cars and a motorcycle were towed during my hourlong lunch. Yet another perk of the Pro Challenge.

While you’ll never see me in bright, skin-tight riding attire and a goofy helmet — to quote Happy Gilmore, “If I saw myself in that, I’d have to kick my own ass” — I will admit that cyclists aren’t that bad. The race is interesting, and seeing the riders muscle up the pass via an airborne camera provides great views. I didn’t even mind the road closures. The next time I run into a group of bikers clogging McLain Flats, I’ll kindly pass without honking.