Festivities to greet Pro Cycling Challenge at A-Basin
Special to the Daily
Arapahoe Basin Ski Area may be well-known for its extreme skiing and long winter season, but, this summer, it’s singing a different tune: For the first time ever, A-Basin will host a stage in the USA Pro Cycling Challenge.
On Aug. 18, riders will climb 4,000 vertical feet from Steamboat to the stage two finish at the Basin — 103 miles away. The Challenge is largely considered to be the most difficult race in America and boasts some of the top cycling talents in the country.
“This event will bring together world-class cyclists, our dramatic mountain setting, the A-Basin culture and vibe and the passion and enthusiasm of our guests to create a dramatic mountaintop finish that we will be talking about for years,” said Alan Henceroth, A-Basin’s chief operating officer.
Cycling won’t be the only activity on-hand either. The stage will be complemented with two jam-packed days of festivities, filled with camping, free concerts and other activities for the whole family. It all kicks off Monday, Aug. 17, with a night-time concert from Brother’s Keeper and John Popper of Blues Traveler on the Basin’s new plaza stage. The next morning, guided hikes and chair-lift rides up to mid-mountain will be available, along with lawn games at the base.
This will all lead up to the Stage Two Finish Festival that begins at noon in the High Noon parking lot. The festival will feature event coverage and TV screens, documenting every moment of the second stage. As pros whizz by at impossible speeds up the pass, the event will feel a bit like a mini-Tour De France, right in our own backyard.
“I watched an hour of the Tour de France. The riders cruised through enthusiastic crowds as they traversed Belgium. For me, I couldn’t stop thinking about how dramatic and charged the crowd will be at The Basin finish. This is going to be good,” explained Henceroth on his blog.
Camping will also be a huge aspect to the festivities and will run for both days of the event. A variety of parking lot locations will be available for rv, car and tent options. Spot availability is on a first-come basis — but must initially be paid for in advance, online or over the phone. The only assigned spots will be beach locations in the Early Riser lots. No camping will be allowed in the ski area itself. Camping within arms distance of the Pro Cycling Challenge and Basin festivities is a one-of-a-kind experience, and, because of such, spots will likely fill up fast.
“We do expect it to sell out the day of, so we recommend booking early … If you want to come with a bunch of friends, you should all come together … there’s going to be some really fun people there,” explained A-Basin Marketing and Communications and Marketing Manager Adrienne Isaac with a smile.
For those only coming to check out the festivities on race-day, it’s important to note that there will no parking available at the Basin, except for those with a designated pass. Shuttles will run from Keystone’s River Run Parking Lot from 9:30-2:30 p.m., and 6-10 p.m. From 2:30-6 p.m., no vehicles will be allowed on Highway 9/Loveland Pass, but spectator viewing will be allowed for the entirety of the road.
“Anywhere from the A-Basin 1 mile sign through the early riser parking lot is a great place to go … It’s still steep, but it’s still straight-away after there … so you have a nice sightline,” said Isaac.
The entire section between Keystone and the Basin should provide a remarkable sprint, with a European alps, cycling-type feel. The five-mile, 1,500 feet of gain in this portion will conclude with the finish line in the upper parking lot at A-Basin.
One other good viewing spot that Isaac recommends is the lower Last Chance parking lot that looks directly down upon the finish line.
“It’s a great viewing spot — set-up your camp chair up top there and just view from the top,” said Isaac.
Food and beverages will be available both days with tents, featuring barbecue, pizza and steamed dumplings. The 6th Alley Bar & Grill will also be open over the course of the festival.
Kids will have the chance to have the same photo-finish as the pros when they compete in the “Kid of the Mountain” bike race on Tuesday. The race will finish in the same location as the Challenge, with kids timed on short sections of the pro course. Prizes will be awarded to top girls and boys finishers of different age groups.
Even after the last wheel crosses the finish line, celebrations at A-Basin will have just begun. From 5:30-10 p.m., the Freddy Jones Band and the Bonny and the Clydes will perform in concert, while camping will continue until Wednesday morning.
If you can’t make it to the Basin for this wonderful event, you can still watch the pros cruise by, as they make their way through Silverthorne and Dillon during stage two and Breckenridge on the 20th and 21st. Stage two coverage will be broadcast live on the NBC Sports Network, at 3 p.m., MST.
All in all, it should be a very memorable two days. Although you may not associate cycling with the ski area, the festival and challenge will surely share the same legendary, one-of-a-kind ambience that the Basin is renown for.
“A-Basin’s really good at throwing parties and getting passionate and having fun with the sports that we love, and this is just another way we get to show that,” explained Isaac.
Here’s to hoping this party stays, for many years to come.
Check out Arapahoebasin.com for more event details and gear, VIP Info, and camping instructions. Explore usaprocyclingchallenge.com for route and race updates as well as volunteering info.
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