05 August 2013

USA Pro Challenge in Aspen/Snowmass

Attending the Race - Race Day Planning in Aspen and Snowmass

For an updated 2014 version visit: On the path of the 2014 USA Pro Challenge - Aspen

PEDAL DANCER® FAN GUIDE - Stage 1 and Stage 2, USA Pro Challenge 2013

The USA Pro Challenge returns to Aspen, Colorado, for the third year, this year they are teaming up with nearby Snowmass Village. The host towns have so much to offer cyclists and fans that race organizers decided to begin the race in Aspen/Snowmass this year. Aspen is a 4-hour drive from Denver International Airport, but also has a smaller airport of it's own. Racers will arrive by Saturday or Sunday for a press conference, and to acclimate (for those not arriving earlier).

By August 18th, expect to see pro riders rolling through town and up the nearby climbs. You will also see team buses and bike trailers arriving attached to brightly colored team cars. Hundreds of race staff members, media members, and hopefully thousands of fans should be in Aspen for the big event by Monday, August 19th through Tuesday, August, 20th.

click on any images below to enlarge
Downtown Aspen, Colorado. ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
This year the cities of Aspen and Snowmass will joint-host the Start and Finish of Stage 1 on Monday, August 19th. This will be a circuit race, with 3 laps allowing spectators to see the riders more than once. The Start of Stage 2 begins in downtown Aspen on Tuesday, August 20th. The cities also have a number of other events planned for spectators.

Location of Aspen, Colorado in the United States
Locations of Aspen, Snowmass Village, and Independence Pass (directly on the Continental Divide at 12,095ft). Map by Pedal Dancer®

Official 2013 Spectator Guide

Stage 1
Date: Monday, August 19, 2013
Route Map Stage 1: Route Map
Route Profile Stage 1: Route Profile
Miles: 68.2
Climb: 7,780ft
Start: 1:05pm, Main Street, near Aspen St. (7,900 ft elevation)
3 loop laps between Aspen and Snowmass Village.
KOM points at: Snowmass Village and McLain Flats just above SH82.
Finish: 3:50pm in downtown Aspen
Stage Sponsor: Colorado.com

Stage 2
Date: Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Route Map Stage 2: Route Map
Route Profile Stage 2: Route Profile
Miles: 126.1
Climb: 12,250ft
Timetable: Start 10:10am in Aspen
Location: Main Street, near Aspen St. (7,900 ft elevation)
First Climb: 19.8 miles away at 12,095 ft
KOM points at: Independence Pass and Hoosier Pass
Sprint points at: Beuna Vista and Fairplay
Last Climb: Hoosier Pass, 11,542 ft (3,518 m), 10 miles south of downtown
Finish 3:25-3:45pm approximate finish in Breckenridge
Stage Sponsor: First Bank

Aspen/Snowmass City Event Website: City Stage 1&2 website; both towns will be hosting special events throughout the weekend preceding the race start on Monday. The Press Room (at the Westin) and some of the teams will be based in Snowmass Village where fans will be able to attend the Tour Team Parking and Team Introduction.

USA Pro Cycling: Website    Facebook    Twitter   YouTube

Stage 1 jersey USA Pro Challenge. Buy
Stage 2 jersey USA Pro Challenge. Buy

Stage 1

Downtown Aspen sounds like a fun place to be with action starting in the morning as teams prepare for the race. Arrive by 11:30am. No traffic will be allowed in or out of Aspen on Hwy 82 from 12-4pm. The race start is at 1:05am with initial laps around downtown. You can then expect the riders to return 2 more times, separated by about an 40-60 minutes each lap, before the final sprint for the line in downtown Aspen sometime around 4ish. As you can see, the laps offer perfect timing for lunch and/or a cool drink in between laps.

Fans near the start line in Aspen in 2012. ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
If you want to see the race in or near Snowmass Village, get in place no later than 11:30am. There is no car passage allowed between 12-4pm on Monday. Please check here for parking locations in Snowmass Village.

A tailgate party, front yard party or patio anywhere along the route sounds like a great idea. Racing takes place between 1 and 4 pm.

The Festival of vendors and sponsors will take place in downtown Aspen. The Festival Area covers: Garmisch from Main St. to Hopkins Ave, Aspen St from Main St to Hyman Ave, Hopkins Ave from Monarch St to Garmisch St.

Stage 2

I like Stage Starts, and since climbing commences immediately on Day 2 (Stage 2), the riders will need to warm up on their spinners before the stage begins. This mean good rider viewing for cycling fans. Look for the team buses outside hotels, the riders will be nearby, some are staying in Snowmass Village, I believe.

Autograph Alley near the sign-in stage (in Aspen downtown) is always a fun location for kids (and big kids) to collect rider autographs. Also watching the riders step onto the sign-in stage and hear the interviews can be fun, with good photo ops.

The riders will complete neutral laps around downtown Aspen before the real start begins and they begin the ascent over Independence Pass.

The stage start is early, at 10:10am, the riders have 126.1 miles to ride to Breckenridge, Colorado on Tuesday.

Cycling Fans riding the west side of Independence Pass before the Stage in 2012 on a road closed to cars!.  ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
If you want to be on Independence Pass, drive up by car by 8:45am from the west side or 6:45am from the east side. Independence Pass is open all day to bicycles! Pro Riders should arrive by approximately 11:30am.
Jens Voigt descending down the Independence Pass in 2012. ©Photo by Mike for Pedal Dancer®

Stage 1

Details: Stage 1: Aspen Circuit Race – Monday, Aug. 19
Start 1:05pm in downtown Aspen
Finish: 3:50pm in downtown Aspen
Miles: 21.6 (34.7km) / lap. 68.2 miles total. 3,080 ft. of climbing per lap
Stage 1 Route Map
The Start / Finish line is on Main St. near Aspen St. The riders will complete two laps around downtown Aspen before heading out to complete 3 22 mile loops. First they depart on Hwy 82 and up Owl Creek Rd to Snowmass Village, where they will turn east to descend Brush Creek Rd, using Upper Ranch Rd to cross over 82 to McLain Flats Rd. Racing south for a return into downtown Aspen. Completing the big loop to Snowmass Village two more times before sprinting to finish line at the same place the race began 68 miles earlier. Car passage is limited around Aspen & Snowmass, read: road closures.

Stage 1 Route Profile
Three 22-mile laps, 68.2 miles total, 3,080 ft. of climbing per lap.
Race Preview Description: Stage 1: Aspen Circuit Race – Monday, Aug. 19

Official Comments: The 2013 USA Pro Challenge begins with its biggest opening day hurdle ever.The new for 2013 Aspen/Snowmass Circuit may be short on distance, but it packs a punch that will welcome the riders to Colorado. Consisting of three 22-mile laps, 68.2 miles total, Stage 1 packs in 3,080 ft. of climbing per lap with minimal recovery, so this is no easy start. Each lap will see the racers fight for position onto the narrow, but beautiful Maroon Creek Bridge, then grind up to Snowmass Village. A quick descent leads to two short, but steep climbs and a quick loop through downtown before doing it all again. Pair that with a starting elevation of 7,900 ft. and you have one tough opening day. No one will win the 2013 USA Pro Challenge on this opening day, but without a strong start, someone could lose it.

Pedal Dancer® comments: This should be a fun day in a nice mountain town where fans will be able to see the lead group and the peloton several times. This will be the Stage to weed out the riders who do not arrive in good form or in good health. Also energy should be high as riders and fans witness who brought their game to the USA Pro in 2013.

With the chase group close behind, Tom Danielson races into Aspen in 2012. ©Photo by Ron Long for Pedal Dancer®
Stage 2

Details: Stage 2: Aspen to Breckenridge – Tuesday, Aug. 20
Start 10:10am
Miles: 126.1 (202.9km)
Stage 2 Route Map

There will be neutral laps in downtown Aspen before the race begins over Independence Pass. The town of Aspen sits at 7890 ft in elevation, Independence Pass is a close 19.8 miles away topping out at 12,095 ft in elevation. That is a quick up. Fans wanting to party on the pass, as they have in past years, will need to get to the top very early. Independence Pass will close to vehicle traffic at 9am eastbound and 7:10am westbound, until approximately 2pm. Car passage is limited around Aspen, read: road closures.
Map of neutral opening laps in downtown Aspen to Start Stage 2
Stage 2 Route Profile

Stage 2: Aspen to Breckenridge – Tuesday, Aug. 20

Official Comments: While much of the Stage 2 course has been used in previous years, 2013 will mix things up by taking the riders in different directions, creating a unique new stage. The familiar battleground of Independence Pass will be anything but easy as riders ascend the 12,000 ft. climb, the highest point reached in any professional cycling race. Then they’ll continue on through some familiar spots as the race zooms through Buena Vista, Fairplay and Alma, before tackling Hoosier Pass from the south this year. But it’s not over until it’s over, so before crossing the line the riders will have to conquer the nasty 15 percent grade of Moonstone Rd. in the heart of Breckenridge, before bombing down Boreas Pass to the waiting crowd.

Pedal Dancer® comments: Independence Pass all over again, the riders will arrive so quickly at the summit, fans will barely have time to dress in costume and start their song and dance. This is a hit the ground climbing kind of stage. Look for some strong Continental team riders to begin strong. They will be flying down Independence Pass and into Buena Vista. The stretch of road between Buena Vista and Fairplay is not a road I would like to ride (again) on a bike. A big road with fast traffic it is not the most scenic for amateur cyclists, the pros however will cover this section quickly with the aid of rolling road closures. The final climb of the day over Hoosier Pass will see lots of fans and establish the race leaders for the week ahead. Breckenridge will be full out fun for fans.

Fans on Independence Pass in 2012. ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®

Road Closures
Full road closure details for Aspen & Snowmass area: All Colorado Road Closures for the 2013 USA Pro Challenge Bike Race. Also read local road closures.

Street Closures begin on Saturday, August 17th. Road Closure: Traffic Impacts for Monday, August 19 -- Motorists are encouraged to travel prior to 12pm or after 4pm. ASPEN - Noon to 4pm: No vehicular traffic will be able to enter or exit Aspen via HWY 82 (from the West/down-valley) or Power Plant Road, with exception of emergency vehicles and RFTA. Cars heading Eastbound/ up-valley on HWY 82 will be stopped at Owl Creek Rd. SNOWMASS - Noon to 4pm, no vehicular traffic will be able to enter or exit Snowmass Village via Brush Creek Road or Owl Creek Road, with exception of emergency vehicles. Tuesday, August 20th - Aspen Stage 2 Start. During the race, the course will not be accessible to vehicles. More info.

Special Events Calendar for Aspen and Snowmass during the USA Pro Challenge:

Friday, August 16:
8:00am - Join New Belgium Brewery for a group ride from the Sky Hotel to Maroon Bells. Sign-up
6:30pm - Peloton Aspen 13 is a fundraiser for Davis Phinney Foundation at a private residence in Aspen, tickets are $515 each.

Saturday, August 17:
8:00am - Join New Belgium Brewery for a group mountain bike ride from the Ranger Station. Sign-up.
8:30am-3pm - Aspen Morning Market.
3:00-11pm - Snowmass Village festivities. Lots of events: free music, merchandise give-aways.
3:00-5pm - Live music at Westin Amphitheater stage in Snowmass Village
3:00-6pm - Tour Team Parking - Snowmass Upper Lots #10, #11, #12
6:15-8:30pm - Opening Ceremonies, Team Introduction in Base Village Plaza, Snowmass
9-11pm - Wildwood Welcome - Music, Beer, Food. Westin/Wildwood Complex

Sunday, August 18:
8:00am - Join New Belgium Brewery for a group ride from the Hickory House to tour Ashcroft.
11am-6pm - Festival at Paepke Park – Downtown Aspen
1:30-3pm - Opening Press Conference, Paepcke Auditorium, Aspen Institute
5-7pm - Bike Around Happy Hour in Downtown Aspen
5:30-8pm - Aspen Sprint Challenge, sign-up
9pm - Moonlight cruise in Downtown Aspen

Monday, August 19:
11am-6pm - Festival at Paepke Park – Downtown Aspen
1:05pm - Race Starts in Aspen! - 3 loops to Snowmass Village and back
Between laps 1 & 2 - Aspen Sprint Challenge, sign-up
5-7pm - Bike Around Happy Hour in Downtown Aspen

Tuesday, August 20:
10:10am - Race starts in Aspen!
Stage 1 Event Map in Aspen USA Pro
Stage 2 Event Map in Aspen USA Pro

VIP Tickets
Aspen, Stage 1 Start area - Founder Box $350
Aspen, Stage 2 Start area - Start Lounge $125
Learn more, or Buy VIP Tickets

What VIP includes: a prime viewing spot on the race route, food, beverage, private access, tables & chairs, live TV race coverage, shade or shelter.

Be a Volunteer at the race in Aspen/Snowmass
Aspen also needs volunteers pre-race from August 14-August 18, in addition to race day volunteers on August 18 and 19. Read more, or sign-up for pre-race volunteer. Or on the Official USA Pro Challenge Volunteer page for race-day volunteering.

Tips on seeing the race
If you can, take a 3-day holiday (Sat-Tues) in Aspen to see the riders warm up (get out and ride your bike on the same road as the pros, as they train on Saturday and Sunday mornings), see the mechanics set-up the bikes (Snowmass Village parking lots), be there for the Team Presentation on Saturday in Snowmass Vilalge, be in the audience for the press conference on Sunday (Aspen), attend the special events planned, go hiking near the Maroon Bells, fish in the gold medal rivers nearby and then watch the pro teams race Stage 1 (Monday) and Stage 2 (Tuesday).
  • Double it up this year : See 2 stages in the same city: Aspen - Stage 1 Start & Finish + Stage 2 Start.
  • See a start & finish on the same day : See Stage 2 Start in Aspen and then drive to the Finish in Breckenridge via Hwy 82 and I-70 through Glenwood Springs (2hr 40min), (the road over Independence Pass to Buena Vista could be closed until 1-2pm).
  • Be on a mountain pass mid-way in the stage: Stage 2 features Independence Pass, and also Hoosier Pass.
Where to watch the race
In the town of Aspen (you will see the riders begin, two times during the laps, and finish!), in Snowmass Village (riders will pass 3 times), at any of the KOM points, at the sprint points. The feed zones are not publicized for rider safety, feed zones should not be crowded with fans. Team buses and Autograph Alley are the places to collect rider autographs. Team buses and mechanic trailers are the place to see the bikes close up. The sign-in stage (or nearby it to watch the riders freely riding by) is a fun location for good rider viewing and to hear the pre-race interviews by the race announcers.

I like to get to any race early, to walk around when the crowds are light and find all the key locations and how to move between the start/finish line, stage, and team areas, or scout for a good viewing spot along the barricades, that way I know how to move around when the crowds get heavy. Arriving early also allows me to find a good cup of morning coffee!

*Remember, it often rains in Colorado in the afternoons between 1pm-4pm, be prepared. Afternoon showers are expected on race day(s) in Aspen.


Hotel and Lodging can be found through the official Aspen/Snowmass Travel Guide. Or at StayAspenSnowmass reservations.

For a list of sites: Aspen Camping and RVs, or the US Forest Service Site: Camping near Aspen. I liked the Difficult Campground sites located 4-miles southeast from town up Independence Pass. Make reservations. Camping on Independence Pass is allowed only in designated areas only. There will be DAY parking along the Pass from mile marker 55 (Pitkin County) to mile maker 66 (Lake County) - that means no overnight camping between these markers.
Car Camping with bikes in Aspen for the 2012 USA Pro Challenge. ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Showers (for those of us camping)
Aspen Recreation Center, $9.50 admission, ($5.60 - 90 minutes before closing). Address: 0861 Maroon Creek Road. Hours: Monday thru Friday 6am-8:45pm. Saturday 9am-7:45pm, Sunday 11am-5:45pm.

Interested in riding while you are there? Rides, restaurants on-route, and bike shops are provided for you on this page: Featured Rides. 4 local rides are recommended including Independence Pass, Maroon Bells, Castle Creek, Old Snowmass & Monastery. Bike rentals can be arranged through these bike shops in Aspen.

Denver local 9News makes these ride recommendations to cyclists: Best citizens rides in 2013 USA Pro Challenge host cities.

Mountain Biking
Aspen/Snowmass is a very popular mountain biking area, more info. Also read: Mountain Biking near the route of the USA Pro Challenge, By Pedal Dancer.

A nice list of hikes in the area, here: hiking trails near Aspen.

What would Jens Do? Go Fishing.

Local Aspen resident Randy Wagner, who is the Rockies District Manager for Sharpshooter Imaging, has been kind enough to offer his personal list of local favorites for the best food and drink in the Aspen/Snowmass area. I greatly appreciate Randy's list of restaurants since many of us will be in town 2-5 days surrounding the race.

Outdoor Dining in Downtown Aspen. ©Photo by Karen at Pedal Dancer®
Randy shares with spectators, "I am usually either looking for a bargain or just a casual atmosphere. With that said, in no particular order, here are a few of my favorite places.":

ASPEN restaurants and bars -

Ajax Tavern (@ the Little Nell)- upscale bar food with an awesome outdoor patio at base of the Gondola. I haven't been there in a while (since winter) but they had a real good Happy Hour and they have one of the best burgers in town. Awesome people watching.

BB's Kitchen- good for lunch and dinner. The menu is always changing so I can't recommend any particular dish, it is all usually really good.

The Big Wrap- Just a basic wrap shop but best, and cheapest, lunch in town.

Rustique- classic French food but everything on the menu is awesome with big portions.

Brunoleschi's- Pizza place with real good pasta, apps, beer, etc.

Cantina- best porch in town on Main Street. Margaritas, food and atmosphere are great.

Salt- only been here 2x but it is very good, and fairly new. Good outdoor seating and people watching. Food has been amazing both times.

Obviously, there are so many more places, these are just my regular stops.

SNOWMASS restaurants and bars -

Most places are open but I actually have not eaten up there much, mostly lunch...

Stew Pot- soup and sandwich place on the mall

Venga Venga- good mexican food (upscale) with good outdoor bar and marts

Big Hoss- pretty good barbecue in the mall

There are a few newer places I have not been to, namely in the Viceroy and the new Westin that I have heard are very good. As I mentioned, most places are open. In the Winter, New Belgium Brewing opened up the "Ranger Station" in the mall and it was a fun place to hang out. There may be some newer places in the Base Village area below the  mall.

More information about Aspen and Snowmass
Please visit www.aspenchamber.org or www.snowmassvillage.com.

Other PEDAL DANCER FAN GUIDES - USA Pro Challenge race day planning, travel guides, city special events, route maps and profiles, road closures, and stage start and finish times.

I have chased pro races for 13 years on the Continent and in Europe. I am now granted the thrill to be Media at some of the races but am always in touch with my roots as a fan. I share with you my inside tips on how to see and enjoy a professional cycling race. My love of travel, maps, photographs and human interest blend with the love of any bike and a good competition in sports. Welcome and enjoy the ride! (About Pedal Dancer®)

USA Pro Challenge in Aspen and Snowmass
USA Pro Challenge in Breckenridge (Part 1)
How & Where to Watch the USA Pro in Breckenridge (Part 2)
USA Pro Challenge in Steamboat Springs
USA Pro Challenge in Beaver Creek
USA Pro Challenge in Vail
USA Pro Challenge in Loveland and Fort Collins
USA Pro Challenge in Fort Collins
USA Pro Challenge in Denver

For more information please visit the PEDAL DANCER GUIDE PAGE: USA PRO CHALLENGE

Official website: http://www.usaprocyclingchallenge.com/

Monday, Aug. 19 - Stage 1: Aspen/Snowmass Circuit
Tuesday, Aug. 20 - Stage 2: Aspen/Snowmass - Breckenridge
Wednesday, Aug. 21 - Stage 3: Breckenridge - Steamboat Springs
Thursday, Aug. 22 - Stage 4: Steamboat Springs - Beaver Creek
Friday, Aug. 23 - Stage 5: Vail Time Trial
Saturday, Aug. 24 - Stage 6: Loveland - Fort Collins
Sunday, Aug. 25 - Stage 7: Denver Circuit