A dose of adrenaline | AspenTimes.com

A dose of adrenaline

Dale Strode
The Aspen Times
The Snowmass Balloon Festival sends dozens of colorful hot air ballons into the sky above the village, offering spectacular views of the Elk Mountains.
Jeremy Wallace/Snowmass Sun |

Editor’s note: This story first appeared in Summer in Snowmass, an annual publication of The Aspen Times.

Adrenaline junkies have a multitude of summer menu offerings in Snowmass Village — from the extremes of mountain biking to the live reality show of rodeo. And don’t forget the hot-air balloons or muddy obstacle courses.

“There’s really what we call the ‘double whammy’ in the summer in Snowmass,” said Dave Elkan of Snowmass Tourism, an avid mountain biker. “We have fantastic spectator events and fantastic participant events.”

The two sides of the adrenaline issue complement each other, he said, like the rodeo and mountain biking.

Snowmass Ski Area is a mecca of mountain biking and a special haven for downhill mountain bikers, according to Elkan.

Snowmass features more than 50 miles of hiking and biking trails with an extensive lift-served freeride and downhill trail network, acknowledged recently by the International Mountain Bicycling Association.

Mountain-bike lessons, including downhill lessons, are available through Aspen Skiing Co. and its team of bike instructors.

With uphill access via the gondola, the downhill mountain bikers have their choice of top-rated routes.

“Our highlight event this summer is the Enduro World Series (bike competition),” Elkan said. “The Enduro World Series will bring in some of the best mountain-biking competitors in the world along with legends of the sport.”

The unique and challenging mountain-biking event further reinforces Snowmass’ reputation as a biking destination, he said.

“We are really excited to host one of the most important mountain-bike competitions right here in Snowmass,” said Elkan, who is the sales and events manager of Snowmass Tourism.

Snowmass Village served as the event headquarters with an expo area for the Enduro World Series on July 30 and 31. Other stops on the international tour are in Chile, Argentina, Ireland, Canada and Italy.

Enduro racing involves special stages for riders to race against the clock on various sections of a mountain course. It’s a combination of cross-country and downhill mountain-bike racing. Riders are restricted to only one bike and one pair of wheels for the various races. Race tactics are critical along with equipment choice and equipment preservation during the event.

Amateurs compete on the same tracks as professionals at the Enduro World Series. The event is a natural for Snowmass, according to Buck Erickson, senior event marketing manager for Aspen Skiing Co.

❱❱ Snowmass Balloon Festival

For adrenaline junkies who are looking for a spectacular view and lots of photo opportunities, the 41st annual Snowmass Balloon Festival will return Sept. 16 through 18.

More than 30 pilots will participate in the three-day balloon extravaganza, a staple of the Snowmass schedule. More than 2,000 people attended the festival during the main Saturday event in 2015, dubbed as one of the highest-altitude balloon events in the country.

Admission is free, with racing, demonstrations, introductory lectures and children’s activities. Spectators gather at Town Park, the festival headquarters and the official launching pad, to witness crews working tirelessly to get their fires going and balloons flying. It’s one of the most beautiful scenes of the year as dozens of colorful balloons float into the sky with the Elk Mountains as the backdrop.

If being a spectator isn’t thrilling enough, take a ride in a balloon yourself by calling Above It All Balloon Co., which offers sunrise balloon departures from the Snowmass Recreation Center parking lot. For rates and information, visit http://www.aboveitallballoon.com.

❱❱ Tough Mudder

For the participation adrenaline junkies, Tough Mudder will return to Snowmass Village with its popular obstacle courses Sept. 10 and 11.

The 10-mile main course, along with the signature Tough Mudder obstacles, will cover 9,000 feet in ascents and descents at the Snowmass event. The course’s start is higher in elevation than any of Tough Mudder’s other events in the U.S., so course designers try to strike a balance between what people are capable of doing at altitude and remaining challenging for strong athletes, event director Courtney Jordan told the Snowmass Sun last summer.

And this summer, event organizers hope to make Tough Mudder Snowmass even better.

“We have such a strong partnership with the Snowmass Village community,” Jordan said. “We look forward to building on the success of last year’s event as well as providing a positive economic impact on the region as we bring together Mudders from all over the world to see what’s in store for 2016.”

The obstacle-course event drew some 8,000 participants last summer.

Tough Mudder Colorado also will have Fruit Shoot Mini Mudder, a muddy obstacle course designed for kids ages 7 to 12. For more information, visit http://www.toughmudder.com.

❱❱ Snowmass Rodeo

If horses, clowns and cowboys are more suited to the family’s adrenaline appetite, the Snowmass Rodeo is back for the 2016 summer season.

The rodeo, it is 43rd season, is held each Wednesday at the Snowmass Rodeo Arena from June 8 through Aug. 17.

The rodeo, which features bull riding and saddle-bronc riding, is one of the longest-running rodeos in Colorado.

Team roping and barrel racing are on the weekly schedule along with the calf scramble and mutton bustin’ for youngsters.

The rodeo arena gates open at 5 p.m. on Wednesdays with pre-rodeo activities like a petting zoo, mechanical-bull rides, roping for kids and a barbecue dinner.

The popular mutton bustin’ is for little buckaroos who try to hold on to a wooly sheep for eight seconds. Participation is limited to girls and boys between ages 4 and 7 and weighing less than 50 pounds. Youngsters can sign up at the event. The calf scramble is for ages 4 to 10. They gather in an arena while calves are turned out with ribbons on their tails. The objective is to grab a ribbon off the calf’s tail to win prizes.

The real rodeo adrenaline hits the arena with the action sports — saddle bronco riding, bareback riding and bull riding.

Barrel racing remains one of the most popular rodeo events at Snowmass.

Top riders from Colorado and the West will compete weekly in the Snowmass Rodeo.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.

Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.

Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.

For tax deductible donations, click here.

Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User