Cyclists gather at Arapahoe Basin Ski Area to create excitement around USA Pro Challenge
Special to the Daily
In anticipation of Arapahoe Basin Ski Area hosting the finish line for the 2nd stage of USA Pro Challenge in August, a number of events are being held in Summit County this summer to get the community in a biking state of mind.
A community bike ride, co-hosted by the Basin and Wilderness Sports of Dillon on Saturday, was the first of these events.
“There’s a silver lining in the mud season in that you can play outside in a bunch of different ways, so we figured why not start the stoke now and utilize everything that Colorado has to offer,” said Adrienne Isaac, spokeswoman for Arapahoe Basin.
Partly sunny skies and mild temperatures, some of the best weather you can hope for during mud season, greeted the 19 bikers who participated in the event. The ride went from Wilderness Sports in Dillon, to Keystone eight miles away. Bikers had and an additional option to continue up the extra five miles to A-Basin.
More than anything, it was an opportunity for local cyclists to come together and dust off their legs after a long winter.
The ride followed the rec path that borders sparkling Dillon Reservoir, and then meanders through the Keystone Golf Courses. At the end of the path, an aid station awaited riders in Keystone. About half the bikers refueled and then embarked on their quest up to the Basin, while the other half called it a day.
Ed Shaw of Dillon planned to take on the last leg to A-Basin, but was cautiously optimistic about the endeavor.
“I’m capable of doing it, but this time of year, I’m going to feel it,” he said.
Others, like Isaac, wanted no part in it.
“I’m going to let the pros race…especially up that pass,” she said.
The pass is no joke, with 1500 feet in elevation gain between Keystone and A-Basin alone. To give perspective, that’s a 5.6% road grade for five miles straight.
The ten-or-so brave souls who decided to continue on chugged their way up U.S. 6 to A-Basin for about 45 minutes to an hour depending on the rider.
As bikers made their way up the pass, snowflakes started gently falling; cooling sweaty brows, but also creating for hairy road conditions.
“I didn’t mind the snow but it made the road pretty wet,” said Scott Wescott, owner of Wilderness Sports.
Thankfully, no one took a spill, and all of 10-or so bikers congregated near the base lodge afterwards to celebrate.
Snow was falling even harder at the ski area, and the bikers got more than a few confused looks from much more heavily dressed skiers and snowboarders.
“I think they’re nuts,” said Glen Monson, a skier visiting from Chicago.
None of the riders seem to mind the stares, though, as jubilation and pride enveloped the group for accomplishing their feat.
“It’s cool to finish up here on a bike, and not on skis,” said 14-year-old Cooper Orr of Dillon. “I was just hoping it would be a little warmer.” It was Orr’s first time biking up to the Basin.
“It was harder than I thought it was going to be, but overall it was awesome,” said Orr.
Some came dressed for the weather and others who didn’t quickly rushed inside to the lodge.
USA Pro Challenge staff was on hand at Wilderness and at the Basin, registering participants, and raffling off prizes. Race staff held a drawing for two bike jerseys, two VIP passes for the A-Basin stage, and gave away a variety of free items like water bottles and cowbells.
As the snow poured down bikers, skiers, and snowboarders alike gathered at the base for food and live music from the cover band Funkiphino.
The pro racers coming to town in August probably won’t have to deal with snow when they race, but that shouldn’t make the event any less exciting. Perhaps the community group could even give a few pointers to the pros after riding in some of the most difficult of conditions.
“I came up from Denver today because this sounded like fun, and I figured if the pros can do it why can’t I?” said Tom O’Connor.
The USA Pro Challenge will host another community ride in Breckenridge on June 21, and another bike ride up to A-Basin on Aug. 8. All for the purpose of gearing up for the stage two stop on Aug.18.
“It should be in super cool in general; the fact that such a great race comes up to my favorite ski area, I think it’s pretty fantastic,” said Orr.
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