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Trade your skis for a bike and head to the Aspen Cycling Festival May 22-23. The weekend is centered on two main events, Ride for the Pass on Saturday and Aspen Criterium on Sunday. If biking isn’t your thing, go to watch pro cyclists and to enjoy some of Aspen’s over 100 bars and restaurants.
In past years, the two events have occurred separately on the same spring weekend. But this year, the two events are being rolled into one festival. “This should be a really energetic and fun event,” said event announcer Erik Skarvan, a long-time Aspen resident and cycling enthusiast. “Each event really has something different to offer. There really are things for everyone to do all the time.”
Ride for the Pass offers both a recreational division, for those just getting their cycling legs, as well as a race division for the more experienced biker. Proceeds from the ride help the Independence Pass Foundation in its mission to protect the Independence Pass corridor, east of Aspen.
The Cycling Criterium caters to a whole different breed. More competitive and challenging, this race is meant for only the most skilled and professional racers. The fast paced, energy-packed race is held in downtown Aspen and runs heats of athletes at speeds of 28 miles per hour and higher around a .9 mile track with ten sharp curves.
According to Sandra Doebler, special events coordinator for the city of Aspen, the best place to watch the event is on the corner of Mill and Hyman Street at the beginning of the pedestrian mall. “You can see the start and finish line but also be close to the beer garden, DJ, vendors and AJAX Tavern booth,” Doebler said.
Conveniently located AJAX Tavern will be holding a cycling party and barbecue from six to nine p.m. on May 22 to kick off the festival. Grab a burger and a side of caraway coleslaw and sit outside for one of the best views of Aspen Mountain. After the party, stroll over to the newly-renovated Red Onion for a beer or Su Casa for a margarita.
For those not into biking, check out this great day hike in the area, the Hunter Creek Trail, an often empty three-and-a-half-mile climb through dense riparian forest to a waterfall with great views of the Elk Mountain Range.