Road biking is probably the second favorite form of recreation for Aspenites in the summer and for good reason. Road biking is easy on the body while providing one of the more demanding workouts you can get, and you can control the pace and intensity. It is even easier on the body than hiking as hiking downhill is notoriously hard on the knees.
The popularity of the sport is attested by the fact the USA Pro Cycling Challenge has had stages in or out of Aspen every year of the race, and last year and this year the race starts here with a circuit race up to Snowmass, through Woody Creek and back to Aspen for three laps. Then the next day in the 2013 race the riders got up early and headed over Independence Pass to Breckenridge, this year in 2014 they will head to Crested Butte on day two. The most fun part for Aspen locals and tourists who are here then is that for a full week before the race starts all the teams gather here to acclimate, so it is not uncommon to see the recent Tour De France winner running laps up to the Maroon Bells.
Speaking of the Maroon Bells you could not create a better road ride if you tried, the road is 13 miles of gradually uphill riding from the roundabout. During the summer no cars are allowed, so the only traffic is a bus every 20 minutes from Aspen Highlands. You literally have you own private paved bike path to one of the most photographed places in the world the majestic North and South Maroon Bells, complete with a restroom and visitor center at the end of the road.
The next valley over is equally stunning and since it is not a national park it gets very little traffic as well. The Ashcroft valley winds up past the Five Fingers on the backside of Aspen Highlands, then the Conundrum Valley leading to the legendary hot springs, continuing on past the ghost town of Ashcroft and ending at the rugged landscape of Pearl Pass. This ride is also about 13 miles and provides a great workout with beautiful scenery. Feeling frisky, combine the Maroon Bells ride with Aschroft form town and you have broken the 50 mile mark.
Other popular rides include riding up to Snowmass or out to Lenado, both of these are easier than the Bells or Ashcroft ride but a great place to start for the beginner or intermediate rider. Combine the two and you now have a worthwhile trip for the advanced rider. The cruise out to Lenado takes you past the home of legendary writer Hunter S. Thompson as well as musician John Oates. You will even get to see a few lama and peacocks on your way!
Head down towards Old Snowmass and you will feel like you have stepped back in time as you pass through ranch country on your way up Capital Creek to the Snowmass Monetary combine this with the East Snowmass Creek road to the Deaf Camp and you have a great intermediate ride.
Feel like your ready for a real challenge? Bike up to the top of Independence Pass for an elevation gain of over 4,000 feet, the road is graded well so the riding is always doable but by the time you are at the top you will feel it If you are an elite rider, go down the other side to Twin Lakes, grab a snack and head back home, all told this is almost a hundred miles and over 8,000 feet of elevation, your going to need a massage.
Road biking is a great way to keep in shape for skiing and get out and enjoy the outdoors with friends. Aspen has these great rides we have mentioned and even more for you to discover so get out there and ride.