Fly The Challenge
August 2014 | USA Pro Challenge
The Opening Weekend in Aspen
The weekend kicked off Saturday evening in beautiful Aspen with VIP access to the opening ceremonies and team introductions in Snowmass Village. Sunday morning, Chris Baldwin, a recently retired pro and two-time National Time Trial Champion, joined us for a hosted ride up the scenic Castle Creek Valley to Ashcroft. The ride ended in the Roaring Fork Valley with a brunch in Carbondale. Our team provided SAG wagon support for the ride, chasing riders in our NextGreatTrip SUV. That evening, our guests dined with the teams as Chris introduced them to pro cyclists who would begin racing on Monday.
Monday 8/18 - Aspen Snowmass Stage 1
Monday morning Chris guided us on a Stage 1 ride, the actual course that the pros would be racing just a few hours later. The group then went on to tackle one of Colorado’s most iconic bike rides, the Maroon Bells climb. Chris provided insights on the course for our guests, having just raced it in the 2013 Pro Challenge and finishing in the Top 10 overall. The highlight of the day by far was watching Stage 1 from the VIP tent at the finish line in Aspen. Our guests enjoyed freshly prepared food and beverages, great views of the peloton as it lapped Aspen three times and live TV race coverage. Some of our guests even rode in VIP peloton cars right alongside the riders.
Tuesday 8/19 - Aspen to Crested Butte
Tuesday was quite the ride for our group. The morning started with coffee in Carbondale, then a short car ride to Redstone, where the group hopped on their road bikes to tackle two epic climbs, McClure Pass and Kebler pass. Our group received support from several vehicles to ensure their gear, favorite snacks, and spare equipment were transported for them as they enjoyed the ride. Wesley Smith from Pro Bike Express was alongside us to provide his expert bike mechanic skills and support.
Once again Chris led the group and provided fascinating commentary and cycling tips as the group rode over the passes. Kebler Pass was completely closed to traffic so guests rode the challenging gravel road in absolute peace through the Gunnison National Forest. The group arrived in Crested Butte just in time to check into the hotel, grab a quick shower, and head over to the VIP tent to catch the mountaintop finish. Everyone enjoyed a delicious dinner with plenty of opportunities to socialize and recount the day’s experiences. Wesley also helped tune and clean the Kebler Pass dirt off everyone’s bikes, so they were in tip top shape for the next day’s ride.
Wednesday 8/20 - Crested Butte to Salida (with a chartered flight to Colorado Springs)
After a restful night’s sleep in Mt. Crested Butte, we headed down the valley to Gunnison, where we began the ride to Monarch Pass. Several members of the group preferred doing a shorter ride, so we split into two groups to accommodate everyone. We had a challenging climb up Monarch Pass, and the group was even cheered on by spectators at the top before descending into Salida.
In Salida, everyone unwound with a warm shower at the Integrate Spa, followed by lunch in a private room at the Boathouse Cantina. We watched the peloton lap Salida twice, just steps from our private dining, before watching the finish on TV. A few minutes after the finish, we hopped in the cars for a quick drive to the airport to catch a short flight to Colorado Springs. That night, everyone was able to settle in at the 5-Star Broadmoor resort.
Thursday 8/21 - Colorado Springs Circuit
On Thursday, we enjoyed biking the Garden of the Gods and parts of the race course. Since the USA Cycling headquarters are in Colorado Springs, they were able to give everyone an insider’s tour of the best places to ride in the area. After the ride, we whisked guests over to Downtown Colorado Springs for a ride in the official race vehicles during the race. Everyone watched the race once again from the VIP tents as they savored a gourmet catered lunch, and then returned to The Broadmoor for a VIP party that evening.
Friday 8/22 - Colorado Springs to Vail and Breckenridge (with another chartered flight)
The next morning, the group boarded the chartered aircraft for a flight to Vail. We tackled Vail Pass on our bikes before continuing on to Breckenridge. Our team members provided snacks and fresh water along the way so guests did not have to stop as they climbed Vail Pass. That afternoon, we arranged for showers in a private condo and massages for some of the guests before watching the finish in Breckenridge. After Stage 5 was over, the group enjoyed a pleasant night in Vail Village.
Saturday 8/23 - Finish in Aspen
On the final morning of our Fly The Challenge experience, we were greeted with inclement weather, so the guests opted for a short car ride back to Aspen instead of biking. The week had come to an end and everyone returned home or went on to watch the finish of the race on their own in Downtown Denver. After a full seven days of trekking across Colorado, it was fun to return to our office and reflect on the amazing week we had interacting with and watching the top professional cyclists in the world race!