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Heavy Pedal

By Tess Strokes

Photo by Dan Bayer courtesy of Snowmass Tourism


When the views aren’t rewarding enough, here are four mountain and road bike rides that pay off with a treat.

Ride: Ragged Mountain Trail
Eat: Slow Groovin’ Marble

The Ragged Mountain Trail drops 19 miles and 2,000 vertical feet from the top of McClure Pass to Kebler Pass Road, skirting Ragged Mountain and traveling through the largest aspen grove in the state. This classic backcountry singletrack works best as a shuttle (drop a car at Erickson Springs Campground) and rides best later in the season once the downed trees have been cleared. Slow Groovin’ now boasts a slopeside location in Snowmass and a bustling catering and food truck business, but the barbecue business remains rooted where it all started: Marble. Slow-smoked Colorado meats and homemade sides are served with a view, daily through Oct. 31 (11am-9pm). 101 W. First St.

Ride: Rio Grande Trail
Eat: ACES Farm to Table Dinners at Rock Bottom Ranch

The Rio Grande Trail spans the length of the Roaring Fork Valley, offering 40 miles of relatively flat, paved traffic-free trail to cruise from town to town. Adjacent to the trail, halfway between Basalt and Carbondale, Rock Bottom Ranch serves as Aspen Center for Environmental Studies’ midvalley hub for sustainable agriculture. The 113-acre wildlife preserve and educational ranch grows, raises or locally sources the food served at its popular Farm to Table dinners (June 29 & 30, July 20 & 21, Aug. 4), which emphasize a more plant-based locally and seasonally sourced diet to lighten peoples’ carbon footprint. 2001 Hooks Spur Road 

Ride: Ashcroft
Eat: Pine Creek Cookhouse

It’s hard to beat “the Bells,” but between Aspen’s two most popular road rides, Ashcroft might win as locals’ favorite. The 12-mile, 1,600-foot ride up Castle Creek Road stretches a few miles longer than the ride up to the Maroon Bells, but the grade climbs gradually, and the views in every direction threaten to send distracted cyclists off-road. After reaching the end of the pavement, turn around and coast into Pine Creek Cookhouse, a dining experience with a backdrop rivaling any Alpine vista in the country. Pine Creek’s cuisine reflects the surrounding environment (Rocky Mountain elk bratwurst, smoked trout melt, etc.) and uses many locally sourced ingredients (Kurt Russell’s home ranch beef patty melt). 11399 Castle Creek Road

Ride: Snowmass Bike Park
Eat: Elk Camp

Winding from the top of the Elk Camp Chairlift all the way to Snowmass Base Village, Snowmass Bike Park offers something for every level of downhill mountain biker, including three brand-new trails that add 7 miles to the network. Bonus bike nights stretch lift-served biking until dusk every Tuesday from July 10 to Aug. 21. (Lost Forest activities like the coaster and climbing wall stay open too.) In July and August, Elk Camp stays open late on Tuesdays, coinciding with the bonus bike nights. The restaurant serves a locally sourced à la carte menu by chef Bradley Murphy that pairs with local beer and distillery tastings and dinnertime entertainment, like a fire pit, games and live music.