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USA Pro Challenge host city, Aspen: facts and fables

April 1, 2012

When the USA Pro Cycling Challenge (UPCC) greets Aspen, Colorado on August 22nd and 23rd for a stage finish and start, it visits a place where locals and celebrities delight in nature’s fortune much as Native Americans and pioneering miners did before them.

Defined by nature

For hundreds of years the Ute Native Americans lived in the Aspen area which they called “Shining Mountains.” The name reflects the geography and the precious metal that attracted fortune hunters. The Elk Mountains, Collegiate Peaks and White River National Forest enfold Aspen, where miners who settled the valley discovered a 1,840 pound silver nugget (reported weights of the nugget vary). Mining investors renamed Ute City Aspen in 1880.

The same investors built the first road over Independence Pass in the early 1880’s. UPCC spectators who watch the race this August on Independence Pass will stand on a former toll road that follows 19th century mule train trails.

Celebrity space

Cycling fans know Lance Armstrong has an Aspen home, and many can name Kevin Costner, Jack Nicholson, Mariah Carey, Melanie Griffith, Don Henley, and others as current or former residents. But what about the Beatles and Snoopy?

Poke around Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass, and you’ll find over fifty shrines to famous folks including Elvis and Jerry Garcia, as well as venerable sports teams and their homes, like the Red Sox and Fenway Park.

Those honored in these shrines reside in Aspen at a bargain price. To purchase a trailer home in Aspen requires what many consider a celebrity budget; one real estate agent calls it the most affordable option in town at $560,000. Aspen’s one place where saying you live in a “double-wide” elicits envy.

Find locals here

Some say that when the Utes were pushed out of Colorado and into Utah they cursed the land they were forced to leave, so that those living on it afterwards would never find happiness there, or go crazy trying. Thankfully visitors don’t have to go nutty to enjoy Aspen. They just need to study the Aspen Times Local’s Choice Awards results.

Big Wrap on E. Durant Avenue won the favorite cheap eats award; it serves a “Pesto Wrapture” for about $7.00.

Perusing the Local’s Choice Awards reveals options for burning calories too: the difficult Ute Trail on Aspen Mountain won favorite view of Aspen and Maroon Creek Road won favorite bike ride.

Before leaving for your next stop on the UPCC trail, peruse the racks at Suzie’s Consignment, the locals’ favorite second-hand store, so you can spectate in style at Beaver Creek or Breckenridge.

Independence Pass ascent view from 1K to top (Mary Topping)

International visitors should feel welcome; Aspen is sister to six cities: New Zealand’s Queenstown, Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, Shimukappu in Japan, France’s Chamonix, San Carlos de Bariloche in Argentina, and Davos, Switzerland.

See also:

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Durango: facts and fables

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Telluride: facts and fables

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Montrose: facts and fables

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Mount / Crested Butte: facts and fables

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Gunnison: facts and fables

USA Pro Cycling Challenge host city, Beaver Creek: facts and fables

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