The Audi Power of Four mountain bike race makes its annual return Saturday, although it comes with some noticeable changes. At the top of that list is the realization that this year’s course only includes Snowmass, opposed to all four local ski mountains, as the name suggests.
“It was built around this idea of hitting the four mountains, but only Snowmass and Buttermilk really had proper bike trails as part of the race,” said Deric Gunshor, who is the director of event development for Aspen Skiing Co., which produces the Power of Four race series. “So we really wanted to create something that we felt like everyone would have fun riding.”
Previously, the race had started in Snowmass before ascending and descending Buttermilk and Highlands. The race would finish at the base of Aspen Mountain. This year’s new course is now a roughly 25-mile loop set exclusively in Snowmass that includes around 5,000 feet of climbing. The premier race offering is a 50-mile solo ride where athletes essentially do two laps of that loop. There also is a one-lap option and a 50-mile team option for two riders to split.
There were a handful of factors that led to the course change this summer, among them scheduling logistics around July’s trail run and a desire to highlight all the single-track mountain bike trails that Snowmass has to offer.
“In general, there has been such an incredible growth in the trail offerings here in the valley,” said Tyler Lindsay, Skico’s event marketing manager. “One of our big focuses in designing the course is having as much great single-track terrain as possible and as little road time as possible.”
The new 50-mile course is expected to finish in roughly the same amount of time as the previous Power of Four course. Thomas Herman of Lakewood won last year’s race in 3 hours, 48 minutes, with this year’s winners expected to finish in around four hours. The 50-mile individual race starts at 7 a.m. and the podium finishers are expected to finish before noon.
The start and finish line is located on Fanny Hill near the Snowmass concert venue. Spectating is free.
“The old Power of Four, it’s a cool course and all, but you had a long road climb up Highlands and then an extremely long road climb up Midnight Mine Road,” Gunshor said. “So to have this ride just really be all single track is super cool.”
This year’s race also is part of the new Snowmass Bike Festival, going on through the weekend. Among the other races this weekend is the return of the Big Mountain Enduro finals, which also wraps up at Snowmass.
The BME fanfare will take place in Snowmass Base Village and Lindsay said the Power of Four course shouldn’t get in the way of the BME stages.
The BME finals are six stages over the weekend, starting Saturday and finishing Sunday. The Power of Four mountain bike race will be held Saturday only.
“We wanted to create an incubator for great mountain bike culture and we thought the Power of Four and the BME were really good anchors for an event,” Lindsay said.