Keystone Resort will add cycling to their summer calender this year with the announcement of the first annual Vuelta a Keystone, a fondo-style bike race Saturday, June 28.
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to host this new event this season,” Keystone Marketing events manager Adam Kisiel said. “Cycling is so core to the Summit County community. We’re excited to have a cycling event that welcomes any level.”
Originally the Vuelta a Salida, event founder Rob Quinn decided to move his cycling competition to Keystone in order to host it in a more centralized location, close to the Front Range.
As to the nature of the event itself Quinn said, “It’s not a race, it’s not a ride, it’s a fondo-style event.”
Originating in Europe, “gran fondo” events are perhaps best described as part race, part ride. The ride is geared toward whatever the rider wants to take from it, whether purely for fun or for the sake of competition.
Already well established in the European cycling world, fondo-style riding is a concept that is starting to grow across the U.S.
While not timed from start to finish, the Vuelta a Keystone will have sections of the course within the ride that are timed for those who want to compete — sort of race within a ride.
“It’s going to be a unique riding experience,” Quinn said. “This event is targeted toward anyone that rides a bike.”
The Vuelta a Keystone will offer 20-, 60- or 90-mile course options, each starting and ending in Keystone Village. The two shorter courses will use segments of the 90-mile course.
The long course will have three timed sections along the route. Similar to the king of the mountain and sprint portions of the USA Pro Challenge, the timed sections are like competitions within the competition, except that the Vuelta a Keystone does not have an overall timed race element and it is geared toward all abilities — not just pros.
After leaving Keystone, the 90-mile course will head north through Dillon and Silverthorne and up toward Green Mountain Reservoir along Highway 9. On the way it will branch off the highway for an out-and-back to the top of Ute Pass. After Ute Pass the course will go all the way around Green Mountain Reservoir before heading back to Keystone. But before ending in Keystone Village, riders will follow another out-and-back up Montezuma Road. (Officials say the closure on Montezuma Road should not affect the race.)
The three timed portions will be the climb on Ute Pass, a portion of Green Mountain Reservoir and the climb on Montezuma Road.
The 60-mile course will cut off the Green Mountain Reservoir portion of the ride and the 20-mile ride will include the Montezuma Road segment as well as a loop around the Keystone Ranch Golf Club.
“It’s shaping up really nice,” Quinn said. “I’m really excited about how things are working out.”
The first-year event is already fully sponsored and Quinn said Keystone officials hope to make it an annual event.
Registration is ongoing, the event has been capped at 500 participants for the first year. There is an $85 entry fee which includes a ‘swag bag’ that Quinn said includes a variety of gear worth more than the cost of entry. A portion of the proceeds — $15 from each entry — will also be divided among the Colorado High School Cycling League, the Rocky Mountain Rowing Club and the Evergreen High School mountain biking team. Quinn said he approached the Summit High team but they were unable to volunteer their time this year.
In addition to the main event, Keystone will host live music and other activities in their main village, including a Porsche and Audi car show by the Vuelta title sponsor, Prestige Imports.
“Your significant others won’t be twiddling their thumbs,” Quinn said of those who choose to spectate. “What we’re doing in the village is a big element of it.”
The ride itself will also be fully supported with medical and mechanical support staff on course and assistance from the Colorado Highway Patrol.
More information is available at www.vueltakeystone.com