Road Biking Aspen
There is a reason the Colorado Pro Cycling Challenge has chosen to start the race with two stages here in 2013 and will be doing so again in 2014, Aspen has some of the worlds best road biking. In many places road biking means sharing the road with cars, an unfortunate circumstance of the sport, but amazingly this is not the case in Aspen.
One of the most popular rides in the Area is up to the Maroon Bells, one of the most beautiful places in the world and is on forest service land which is closed to cars from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Which means you see one bus every 15 minutes and the rest of the time you are on your own private bike path. This 26 mile round trip ride from the roundabout is a fairly steady uphill grade the entire way to The Bells providing an amazing workout that you can control the pace of, with scenic views of Pyramid Peak and Maroon Bells, really road biking does not get better.
The next valley over up Castle Creek is just as beautiful and though not on forest service property there is almost no traffic to speak of as it is a dead end road. So once again you will find yourself on a stunning panoramas of the Five Fingers shoots of Highlands, the Conundrum Valley, Pearl Pass and more. Feeling hungry stop in the Pine Creek Cook House for a unique mountain dining experience or take a stroll though the historic ghost town of Ashcroft and take in some history on your ride.
Other popular rides include heading out to Lenado past the legendary home of Hunter S Thompson where you may get to see a peacock or two as well as some lamas belonging to John Oats. Or ride out Old Snowmass to the pristine home of the Monastery up the beautiful Capitol Creek Valley where you will feel like you have teleported back in time to a more rugged ranching Colorado.
If you are feeling strong on these rides and want a real challenge try heading up Independence Pass for a gain of over 4,000 feet topping out at over 12,000 feet of elevation. Still not tired, keep going to Twin Lakes, grab some food and turn around back to Aspen. If you can take this one down you may want to consider taking up biking for a living!
As road biking has gained popularity in the last decade the USA Pro Cycling Challenge has re-emerged with great success in Colorado. Each year Aspen has had a stage and in the 2013 season it was awarded the opening stage as a circuit race from Aspen to Snowmass Village, down to Woody Creek and back to Aspen for multiple laps on this course. Then the next morning Riders headed right up Independence Pass and on to Breckenridge for a lung and leg busting 100+ mile ride. This was such a popular coordination of stages that the 2014 will start with a similar circuit, then again start the next day in Aspen and go to Crested Butte. If you get the chance to partake in the festivities be sure to head up the pass before the riders for the madness, it feels as if you are in Europe celebrating the Tour De France. In addition to the race day excitement, with the tour starting here in Aspen, team riders came in as much as a week early, every day teams could be seen riding around town and on many of the popular ride mentioned above.
For all these reasons and more legendary USA road biker Lance Armstrong has made Aspen a part time residence where he can enjoy the amazing rides in this part of Colorado and the culture, nightlife and food Aspen has to offer.
So whether you are new to the sport or a seasoned rider Aspen has rides that will fit your skill and are a great compliment to skiing in the winter. You can get incredibly fit yet road biking is very easy on your body so you will be ready to charge for the next ski season.