The Little Nell Aspen
Clip-In with Christian Cycling Camp Features Pros, Wines,
and Master Somms
By Erin Lentz
“Car back—fall in!” says Jonathan Fillman, Hotel Manager of The Little Nell. My Allied Cycle Works bike wheel is pointed toward CR15 road in Aspen. I’m with a large group of riders as part of the annual “Clip-In with Christian Cycling Camp,” hosted by the Little Nell hotel in Aspen and celebrity cyclist Christian Vande Velde. Our destination? The end of Castle Creek Road. Hugged by the gorgeous Elk Mountain range, the scenic 13-mile road snakes past T-Lazy-7 Ranch, open meadows, and the Pine Creek Cookhouse. Our peloton is decked out in white-and-black Hincapie Sports racing kits and is comprised of entrepreneurs, housewives, a lawyer, a South African winemaker (more on that later), and Little Nell master sommeliers. Like the aspen trees that surround us, on this day we’re one interconnected group. The professional peloton—which includes Vande Velde and former pros Craig Lewis and Hincapie, has given us mere mortals a full hour head start.
Now in its fifth year, the Clip-in with Christian Camp is a five-day, intensive cycling event that includes daily rides along Aspen’s most prized roads. Guests are outfitted in team cycling kits and demo top-tier carbon road bikes, while an onsite mechanic fine tunes rides. The first day kickstarts with a grueling climb up Independence Pass; the second, a ride up to Reudi Reservoir, and on the third—the day I’m fortunate to join—the Castle Creek spin, followed by a private Little Nell lunch at Toklat Art Gallery. Clients of all level abilities receive cycling tips and inspiration from the former pros, and when not on the bike, are wined and dines by the Nell’s culinary team. Diehard riders test their mettle against the pros, while others look to beat personal Strava records.
New to this year’s event was a wine dinner with acclaimed vintner Ken Forrester of Ken Forrester Vineyards, who was the star of a decadent evening at Element 47 (Aspen claims more master somms per capita than any other U.S. city, thanks to the Little Nell). Locally sourced wagyu steak was paired with Forrester’s delicately balanced red blends—guilt-free fuel for the following morning’s ride. Also new to the camp is a partnership with Allied Cycle Works. Co-founded by Tony Karklin, Allied has quickly gained respect in the cycling world for American-made, ultra-lightweight carbon-fiber bikes. I was lucky enough to test out Tony’s personal Allied, and between the adrenaline of riding with this elite crew and being on a top-of-the-line pavement pounder, I clocked my own personal best up the scenic Castle Creek Valley. Now I’ve got my sights set on next year’s camp. Bordeauxs and bikes? Yes, please!
For info on the 2019 Clip-in with Christian Camp, contact Cathy DeHaven at email@example.com.
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