When Simon Chen, managing director at Aspen’s The Little Nell, joined the hotel in 2012, he had a vision. Christian Vande Velde was the reigning USA Pro Challenge Champion (think “Le Tour de France of Colorado”), and Aspen had just hosted a stage of the grueling race. It inspired Simon to email Christian with the idea of creating “a high-end camp in Aspen” that offered “something completely different from any other pro-led camp.” The duo put their heads together and launched the annual “Clip-in with Christian” cycling camp.
On September 24-28 this year, 20 riders will have the opportunity to ride, dine, drink, and experience Aspen with some of cycling’s best, including Christian, Craig Lewis, and Ryder Hesjedal. In addition to being 2012’s USA Pro Challenge Champion, Christian was a winner of multiple stages of Le Tour de France and a top 10 finisher. He was also an instrumental figure in 2012’s Giro d’Italia, helping teammate Ryder Hesjedal take the top trophy. Christian and Ryder will be joined by Craig Lewis, who competed competitively from 2007 to 2013 and holds the title of “King of the Mountain” on the Independence Pass stage in the 2012 USA Pro Challenge. In other words, the guy is an animal.
For a cool $5,750, you can team up with Christian, Craig, Ryder, and The Little Nell to ride Aspen’s most scenic routes while wining and dining on award-winning cuisine. A spouse or partner can join the ride for $3,250 and a nonriding partner can partake for $2,500. The all-inclusive package includes The Little Nell’s Five-Star, Five-Diamond accommodations, gear bag, and riding apparel, as well as all meals (including alcohol), and gratuities. In addition, riders will be provided with a road bike of their choice by Scott, which will be set up just for you—including personalization on the bike frame. If you fall in love with your bike, you can purchase it and The Little Nell will disassemble it and ship it to your home.
The program has extensive cyclist support with over a dozen staff and pros and a team mechanic, plus support vehicles stocked with food, beverages, and an empty seat in case you want a breather. Riders of all abilities can join, although some experience is recommended so you can enjoy your time.
According to Simon, Clip-in with Christian has a 90 percent return visitor rate, and riders have developed and maintained friendships on trips outside of Aspen. “Our camp is about connecting with like-minded people who share these passions,” said Simon. That sounds like a great way to travel to me.