It's hard to stroll through Aspen or walk around Snowmass without seeing an almost absurd amount of guys and gals astride mountain bikes of all shapes and sizes. Cross-country bikes can be seen going up into the Hunter Creek Valley in Aspen, full-face helmet and pad wearers on bikes with lots of suspension load the chairlifts at Snowmass, and more than a few vehicles all up and down the Roaring Fork Valley can be seen with bikes traveling to varying trails. The resources this valley provides when it comes to mountain biking gave the events crew at Aspen Skiing Company an opportunity to take a holistic look at the mountain bike events they had been running of years as single occasions. They saw an opportunity to create an experience where the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts. Hence, the Snowmass Bike Festival — August 13–18, 2019 — was born.

Pulling together the bike race portion of the Power Of Four and the Big Mountain Enduro race as cornerstones of the festival, the team was able to build around those two races and fill in with other ideas and activities that cater to a wide range of bike enthusiasts of all rider levels. Snowmass has become the hub for mountain biking over the years with the bike park growing in both size and popularity and new cross-country trails like Seven Star and Sky Mountain Park being recently added to complement decades-old favorites like Tom Blake, Rim Trail, and Government. New bike park trails are going in at the bike park as well; the trail-building crew is scheduled to have four new trials open by the end of the summer.
Snowmass Bike Fest - Events in Aspen
Snowmass Bike Fest - Events in Aspen

Snowmass Bike Fest - Colorado
Snowmass Bike Fest - Colorado

Schedule

The festival kicks off on Tuesday with the final Snowmass Bike Park series race where locals have been going head to head each week all summer. Come out and cheer for the culmination of that progress. Wednesday will feature a volunteer trail building session with Roaring Fork Mountain Bike Association on Hawk Ridge Trail. Thursday features training for the Big-Mountain Enduro and then The Samples take the Snowmass stage for a concert. Friday is more enduro training and then Saturday brings the main events, the Power Of Four mountain bike race and day one of the Big-Mountain Enduro race followed by a screening of Return To Earth, an Anthill Farms Productions film featuring some of the best mountain bikers around. Saturday is also the first day of the 2-day Vida Mountain Bike clinic designed especially for women to hone their mountain bike skills. Sunday culminates with the Big-Mountain Enduro finals.

Power of Four

The new Power of Four route is taking place all on Snowmass this year as opposed to going up and down each of the four Aspen mountains.

“We felt that the previous course was not the sort of bike ride that people would choose to do if there wasn’t a race on it,” says Tyler Lindsay, the event marketing manager at Aspen Skiing Company. “We wanted to see what would happen if we put the race on a collection of trails that are all really fun to ride.”

The new route starts on Fanny Hill, works over to Rim and Seven Star, then moves to the southern trails of Sky Mountain, up through the trees of Tom Blake and Powerline, finishing with Expresso and Cross Mountain. The 50-mile racers will head out for lap number two while the 25-mile racers will enjoy getting out of the saddle to watch their fellow gluttons for punishment continue in the pain cave. Those 50-mile racers will also be eligible for the Power Of Four Triple Crown if they then compete as well in the Power Of Four SkiMo race and the Power Of Four running race. The total prize purse for the mountain bike portion of $2,500 will be split among the top three men and the top three women.

Big-Mountain Enduro

The Big-Mountain Enduro race covers an amazing amount of terrain here in the Aspen area, lots of it perfect for spectating. And despite its somewhat intimidating name, Lindsay likes to say, "It's the race discipline that's closest to the regular biker's ride experience. You go up the untimed climbs casually chatting with your friends, then rip down the descents as fast as you can." Three stages each day give riders a challenge, but the downhills are the focus. Over 400 racers will be hitting the start gate to give it their all for two days. Last year, day one was in Aspen and day two in Snowmass, but with new trails going in around Snowmass, letting riders beta test some of these was the goal for day one before moving from Snowmass to Aspen on day two. Stage one of day one sends the racers down some bike park favorites as well as some newly minted trails. It starts with French Press, heads down Papa Smurf, to the crown jewel of the bike park, Valhalla, then on to the new Trail 9. Stage two starts on Animal Crackers and moves over to the Two Creeks downhill and stage three starts with Sam's Knob then down the famous West Government. The racers get a night to wind down before things wind back up for day two. Stage four brings racers down the relatively mellow Powerline and Starks trails before heading over to Aspen Mountain and a full 3,200 vertical foot descent for stage five. Stage six brings riders back to Snowmass to give it everything they have left down Banzai.

Vida Mountain Bike Clinic

To take your mountain biking to the next level, it's often helpful to gain some technical knowledge from those more experienced and well-versed in the sport rather than trying to get there on your own. The Vida Mountain Bike Clinic does this for female riders looking to up their game. "This immersive experience gives you the opportunity to connect with your coaches and dive into the nitty-gritty when it comes to proper form on the bike," says the Vida crew. "What's more, your coaches will help you gain the confidence you need to tackle the next challenge." Registration is still open and includes lots of other goodies in addition to coaching.

The first annual Snowmass Bike Festival is a coming together of the community to support both the strongest athletes competing in the races as well as those looking to get into the sport, improve their skills, or participate in making the trails they ride better. A full week of action-packed events highlight what is sure to be the first of many successful annual Bike Festivals in the biking capital of the Roaring Fork Valley, Snowmass.

About the Author

Nicole Birkhold
Nicole Birkhold

NICOLE BIRKHOLD

With nothing but a pair of skis and a journalism degree from Michigan State University, Nicole headed west looking for mountains, snow, and someone to pay her to put words to paper. She found the writing gig in Freeskier Magazine for ten years, but needed to be closer to the mountains to she packed it up and came to Aspen where she still crafts words but with more time on the snow.

You Might Also Like