These are stressful times for the Roaring Fork Valley, and on behalf of the Aspen Cycling Club board of directors, I hope you are all finding some joy in the outdoors. I’m impressed and inspired by the number of people remaining active (with social distance!) on the roads, trails, and skin track.
In a typical year, we would be ramping up to release our season calendar and open registration at the beginning of April, but we have chosen to delay that this year, hopefully only for a couple weeks.
As the COVID-19 situation rapidly changes, we’ve been in contact with local officials. Currently, here is where we stand:
The latest Pitkin County Public Health guidelines limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer (including staff and participants) until April 17, with the possibility of this timeline being extended. We also received direction from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that we should plan to adhere to a maximum gathering size of 50 people (including racers, staff, volunteers, and spectators) until at least May 10. Our first race was slated to occur on May 6, so our season is already impacted. Even within the 50-person limit, social distancing would be required, including six feet of space between race attendees, as well as a requirement for hand-washing stations at every event. Under these recommendations, we would also have to restrict attendance of higher-risk groups, meaning racers over the age of 60 would be discouraged from participating.
A major concern for Pitkin County is also the current strain on our local medical system. While crashes requiring medical attention are very rare at ACC events, the potential for such an incident is worrisome. Most medical resources in our valley are currently being devoted to fighting COVID-19, and it is critical that the infrastructures of our health care and first responders are not overburdened. Additionally, there would be the potential for first responders to become infected if they were to provide hands-on treatment to an infected-but-not-symptomatic rider.
As we assess these restrictions, we also have to keep in mind our financial resources, liability issues, and ethical considerations.
While we hope our network of sponsors and donors will continue to support us despite the impacts of COVID-19, we anticipate losses due to the challenging economic situation. As many of you know, the majority of our financing comes from sponsorships, so we may need to consider reductions to the 2020 season if our sponsorship revenue decreases past a certain level. We are also considering our options for membership discounts or refunds in case either becomes necessary.
Finally, we believe the cycling community in our valley should lead by example, and we, among other local organizations, have a responsibility to set the tone as we navigate our way through this outbreak. If limiting group rides to a couple of your best friends and remaining six feet apart—or eliminating group rides altogether—continues to be the most effective way to combat COVID-19, we will follow the rules and encourage all of you to do the same.
We are not calling off any events or modifying our season just yet, but we are looking at options for a variety of scenarios, including alternative race formats, a delayed season, and—worst-case scenario—virtual challenges. We love our race series and know that Wednesday-night racing is one of the things that makes our community so special, so we’re doing all we can to make this summer as exciting as years past.
The next ACC board meeting is scheduled for April 6, and we will share another update shortly thereafter, hopefully with a more solidified plan for the summer. Until then, stay safe, stay active, and keep training for warmer, virus-free months!
Board President, Aspen Cycling Club