Aspen and Snowmass Village have played host before to the USA Pro Challenge but, for the first time this year, the race will travel through Basalt and Carbondale. Cyclists begin “stage two” of the race in Aspen just after 10 o’clock Tuesday morning. As Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports, Downvalley communities are rolling out the red carpet.
Andrea Stewart digs items out of a lunch bag meant for race volunteers. She’s the Executive Director of the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and is preparing for the USA Pro Challenge to move through downtown. The riders should arrive just before noon.
"The sprint finish is at Fourth and Main Street, right there on the corner. So, they sprint through that stop and continue riding through town and gather momentum before they head up McClure Pass," she says.
Even though the cyclists won’t arrive until lunchtime, the Chamber is holding special events in the morning including live music and a mini farmer’s market.
The Chamber is coordinating the events and working with 75 volunteers. They’ve spent about 100 hours and $3000 on the effort. Stewart says it’s worth it because of the exposure the televised race will bring.
"As the Chamber, we’re trying to promote the businesses here in Carbondale and at the end of the day, we would love for people to come back down the road and spend their time with an extended vacation, here in town."
The race is already boosting business at the Village Smithy, a restaurant along Main Street. Ali Yung is Assistant Manager. I spoke with her Monday.
"I think that our business the last few days has been up, I mean, yesterday we did close to 600 people, we were up about 75 people. And, today we’ll be up again. So I definitely think it’s been generating more business for us."
The added business is welcome during a particularly busy summer at the restaurant. Yung says they’ve consistently served more people every week compared to last year.
She thinks business will dip slightly during Tuesday's race because people will be on the streets.
"I think that people might come and sit and eat lunch and camp out and watch the race from the tables, so we won’t be turning as quickly, which will be fine," she says.
Just down the street, the Pour House, which serves up hearty meals and beer, is also preparing for the Pro Challenge. Manager Skip Bell says he thinks it will be busier than normal, but...
"I don’t know how significant it will be. It’s a workday for most people, there will be a lot of people coming out of their businesses for lunch. So, they’ll be coming out to watch it go through, so they’ll either get a bite to eat or go back to work. I hope we do well, but it’ll be a fun day regardless."
The race moves through town relatively quickly. Catherine Store Road and Main Street will close around noon, as well as a couple of side streets. The cyclists will then move onto Highway 133. A closure of McClure Pass is scheduled from 1 to 3pm.
Andrea Stewart with the Carbondale Chamber expects a light-hearted atmosphere during the race.
"I think it will be very outgoing and high-spirited. Carbondale is very eclectic and so I do envision a lot of costumes and creativity."
The Town of Basalt is also hosting events. Spectators are invited to line Two Rivers Road downtown around 10:30am. A 15-foot arch is being set up at the Two Rivers - Midland Avenue intersection and cowbells will be distributed. Drivers should expect temporary road closures along Two Rivers Road.