The USA Pro Cycling Challenge: Stage 4

Aspen to Beaver Creek

Aug 16, 2012
Outside Magazine
Beaver Creek is adjacent to the

Beaver Creek is adjacent to the Holy Cross Wilderness    Photo: CoMtMan/Wikimedia

Stage 3 may have been long, but Stage 4 will be brutal. The riders begin by climbing over Independence Pass. From there, they descend into Leadville—the highest incorporated city in the U.S.—then to Minturn, and finally climb up Beaver Creek, a finish that could again change up the leaderboard. Stage 4 not be the queen stage for the racers, but it certainly is for spectators.

WHERE TO STAY: Camp at Turquoise Lake in Leadville. The views are stunning, and you’ll be perfectly positioned for the day’s action.

WHAT TO DO: If you’re into golf, play a few holes at the Mount Massive Golf Course, the highest course in North America, with some of the most stunning views in the state. The golfing may be marginal, but the scenery is no less than spectacular. That evening, catch the free Jazz Foundation concert in Vail or catch a movie and dinner at CineBistro. While the tickets are pricey, you get unlimited refills on Coke and popcorn. If you're a glutton, it's the way to go; you'll more than break even.

WHERE TO EAT: Your day should be built around food. Breakfast is to be had at the Proving Grounds Coffee and Bakery. It’s cozy and historic, plus the coffee is good and the berry tarts are incredible. For lunch, you have no choice but to visit Manuelitas Restaurant for the best fish tacos known to man. They’re super cheap, incredibly simple, and unbelievably delicious. Order them as part of the combination plate, pair them with a Coke, and you’ll be in heaven. For dinner near Beaver Creek, head to Agave and continue with the Mexican food theme. If you’re looking for a high-end dinner in what appears to be a castle, look no further than Splendido. Or, go over to the dark side, avoid the Beaver Creek crowds, and eat dinner in Vail at the Sweet Basil. It's a pricey menu, but the burger isn't a bad value. And the desserts always surprise.

HOW TO WATCH THE RACE: If you’re up for some early-morning driving, speed into Aspen and nab a primo spot on Independence Pass. You’ll get to see the riders summit the race’s hardest climb. But if you’re in for a leisurely morning at Turquoise Lake, you can stay in Leadville until around 2:00 p.m. (when the riders are set to arrive) and make it to Beaver Creek, possibly with a quick stop at the Minturn Saloon, before the riders finish.

RACE DAY SCHEDULE: Racing begins at 11:35 a.m. and riders arrive in Beaver Creek at 3:50 p.m.

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