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Keystone welcomes a circus on wheels

Cirque de Wheels Schedule

7-8 a.m.: Registration for XC race

8:30 a.m.: XC races start (3-minute intervals between categories)

10 a.m.: Lift opens for Downhill Fun Ride (discounted lift ticket required), KIDZ Zone opens

10:30 a.m.: Bike Carnival of Contests opens

11 a.m.: XC race awards

11 a.m.: Yoga in amphitheater

11 a.m.: Kids race and Costume Cruiser Ride registration opens

12 p.m.: Kids races start, both pedal bikes and balance bikes

1 p.m.: Costume Cruiser Ride

1:30 p.m.: Live music with Glen David Andrews Band, circus performers

2:30 p.m.: Cruiser ride awards, raffles

3:30 p.m.: Live music

5 p.m.: Bike carnival awards, closing ceremony

The circus comes to Keystone Resort Sunday, not on a unicycle but on a mountain bike.

The resort will host the first, and what organizers hope will be annual, Cirque de Wheels, a circus-themed family-friendly mountain biking festival run by the Rocky Mountain Endurance Series, which earlier in the summer produced the Snake River Mountain Challenge, also at Keystone.

“Keystone is thrilled to host another weekend of exciting family-friendly entertainment and activities,” said Laura Parquette, the resort’s senior communications manager. “Cirque de Wheels will provide something for the whole family to enjoy, including circus performers in River Run Village, a cross-country bike race, live music, a children’s balance-bike race and of course all of our regular summer activities.”

Unlike the popular Rocky Mountain Endurance Series, this weekend’s race and festival events are geared toward riders with less experience, looking to give racing a try. And it’s free to enter.

“We’re trying to create a little something for everybody,” event organizer Thane Wright said.

The festival kicks off early Sunday with an 8:30 a.m. start to the cross-country bike race.

The race will take place on a 5-mile circuit course with minimal elevation gain. Participants will have a few options as to the number of laps they choose to complete.

“We’re using the fun rolling singletrack at the bottom of the mountain,” Wright said.

He’s hoping to attract riders that may ordinarily be too intimidated to sign up for a race.

“It’s a great opportunity to try a race,” he said.

In addition to the race, the day will include a variety of family-friendly activities.

Cirque de Wheels is a part of Keystone’s continued effort to promote biking and other summer activities at the resort. Parquette said that this year Keystone has made a conscious effort to step up its summer programing with more races and also more beginner-friendly biking activities like the festival and beginner clinics offered at the bike park.

Sunday’s festival will also include a costumed cruiser ride, in which participants are encouraged to dress up in circus-themed outfits.

“This is the first time we’ve done something like this,” Wright said. “It’s a circus-themed bike festival for all ages and abilities.”

In addition to a yoga session in the village amphitheater, there will be a variety of kid-friendly activities.

“We’re going to have a huge kidzone,” Wright said.

It will feature face painting and a number of games. There will also be kids races through the village on both pedal and balance bikes.