Getting sideways while ice-karting in El Jebel
The Aspen Times
I have a heavy foot and am no stranger to speeding tickets. My dad raced stock cars semi-professionally when I was a kid, and prior to that he raced go-karts in the 1960s and ’70s. He was a co-owner of a popular karting track in South Florida when I was little, so speeding is basically in my DNA.
When I learned about a new ice-karting operation in El Jebel (that’s go-karting on a frozen lake), I couldn’t make a reservation fast enough.
I invited a small crew to test it out with me Sunday morning. The Aspen Times’ General Manager Samantha Johnston, who has a racing background of her own, and our On The Hill video reporter Corby Anderson both jumped at the chance for pure adrenaline-pumping fun on Kodiak Lake — a true Sunday fun day. Corby’s wife and my boyfriend also joined us.
Slipping and sliding is usually not intentional in a regular go-kart, but there’s nothing regular about ice-karting.
Aspen Ice Karting’s motto is “let’s get sideways,” because that’s exactly what you do. The karts are set up with ice tires that are rigged with Kold Kutter traction screws, which give the karts enough traction that you’re not constantly spinning out, but not so much traction that you can’t get sideways or do a 360.
After a test lap to get drivers acquainted with the karts, it was time to lay the hammer down. The karts can go as fast as 50 miles per hour on the 900-foot straightaway, or the more timid driver can take it easy and keep to the right so others can pass.
On the 0.8-mile road course there are some fun S-curves and even a hairpin turn, which is where most of the people in my group spun out a few times.
The slipping and sliding is what made this so much more exciting than any other karting I’ve ever experienced. That flutter you feel in your heart when the car drifts and it seems as if you’re going to lose control — it’s pure adrenaline-filled fun. Under the full-face helmets we all wore, I knew every face in our group of five was sporting an ear-to-ear smile. It’s not often we find a new winter activity off the snow around here, and until Sunday, I thought I had experienced it all. At least one person from our group will be back for more this coming weekend. The ice is only expected to last through March, which means the time to get sideways is now.
To book a reservation visit http://www.aspenicekarting.com.
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Keegan Swirbul was set to carry on with his nomadic career this summer with Ljubljana Gusto Santic, a professional cycling team based out of Slovenia