ELEVATION AND EMINENCE.
The Rocky Mountains are a place of legendary wonder, and when it comes to American cycling, they’re also the setting for the basis of the modern sport. From races like the once-illustrious Coors Classic to some of the continent’s highest paved roads, it’s a locale known for being continually steeped in the sport of cycling. But aside from its past and current prowess as a bike riding hotspot, mountainous Colorado is known for skiing, and with it boho towns like Aspen, and bougie places like Vail. RAID’s Rocky venture visits both, with plenty of high-altitude suffering to balance the bounty of novel eats (and drinks) both cities offer. Hot tubs, spas, and fine dining complete an escape to the high country’s lonely alpine roads, one guests are sure to return from recharged and refreshed.
Day 1: aSPEN - BELLS & ASHCROFT
47 miles / 3,890 ft
Our first shakedown spin at altitude takes us along the moderate climb up the Maroon Bells. This out-and-back ride begins at 8,000’ feet in Aspen and climbs moderately for nearly 10 miles to a mountain lake. The road is closed to vehicles for most of the season and provides incredible riding in both directions. Once we reach the top of the climb, we come around the bend and are rewarded with one of North America’s best views: the 14,000-foot Maroon Bells peaks. Enjoy the descent back into town!
Day 2: ASPEN - VALLEY LOOP
73 miles / 5,804 Feet
Lance Armstrong has made Aspen his home, and this is one of his favorite loops down valley from Aspen. It includes some of the iconic dirt roads that Colorado is known for. We head out of Aspen along Owl Creek, rolling to the ski village of Snowmass, where the gravel begins. Wildcat Road takes us to our highest point of the day, topping out at 8,500’ where we can take in the incredible views of the Roaring Fork Valley. This smooth five-mile gravel sector drops us back to pavement on Snowmass Creek Road. After a coffee stop, we continue up the eastern flank of the valley, back toward Aspen via the iconic Woody Creek Tavern, the residence of noted author Hunter S. Thompson for most of his life. From here we tackle the Medicine Bow climb before finishing in Aspen along McLain Flats Road.
Day 3: ASPEN TO VAIL
95 miles / 7,400 Feet
Today we’ll tackle Independence Pass, one of the most challenging and scenic climbs in Colorado. From Aspen, we’ll climb 4,200ft with a maximum grade of seven percent for 19 miles to the 12,500ft summit. Our descent form the top is nothing less than incredible. A staple climb in numerous historic races, Independence Pass ranks with the finest ascents in North America.
After a 25-mile descent we turn north toward the mountain town of Leadville, known for its iconic mountain bike race, the Leadville 100. After grabbing lunch in town, we’ll continue on an incredibly scenic route traversing the Continental Divide, before summiting Tennessee Pass at 10,424 feet. We descend through the village of Minturn before we finish of the day on a quiet bike path all the way into the village of Vail.
Day 4: VAIL TO BRECKENRIDGE
72 miles / 6,800 Feet
The iconic Vail Pass, featured in many of Colorado’s professional races through the decades, makes its debut this morning. As we depart Vail along Gore Creek, the road becomes one-lane with no cars in sight. Gradually we climb to Vail’s summit at 10,603 feet, before beginning an incredible descent to Copper Mountain, and then further to Frisco, skirting along Dillon Reservoir, finally making our way to Swan Mountain Summit. We’ll end the day with a descent into Breckenridge, where we can refresh with a local beer before grabbing the van back to Vail for an afternoon of relaxing. The intrepid can choose to cycle all the way back to Vail, making for a perfect 95-mile round-trip outing.
Day 5: vAIL TO GLENWOOD SPRINGS
64 miles / 1,260 Feet
Jagged cliffs line the Colorado River between Vail and Glenwood Canyon along the classic route. We’ll take the less-travelled route through Eagle before entering the narrow gorge before Glenwood Springs. Keep an eye out for wildlife: Big Horn sheep, elk and even moose are common here. We finish off our ride into Glenwood Springs via the Canyon bike path, a remarkable 16-mile one-way route along a scenic river corridor. The day ends at the Iron Mountain Hot Springs where we can soothe our weary legs in the hot springs perched above the mighty Colorado River.