Bicyclists, get it in gear
Quit stalling. Pump up your bike tires and put some lube on the chain – the annual Ride for the Pass is a short three weeks away.The popular charity bike race/recreational ride to benefit the Independence Pass Foundation will take place Saturday, May 21.Now in its 11th year, riders will start at the winter closure gate on the pass, east of Aspen, and ride about 10 miles up to the ghost town of Independence – a grunt-inducing 2,000 feet of elevation gain. The town is at about 10,500 feet.The pass is expected to open to vehicular traffic the following week, on Friday, May 27, in time for the Memorial Day weekend.Competitive racers start the ride at 9 a.m., followed by recreational riders at 9:15 a.m. The registration fee is $30 in advance and $35 on the day of the ride.Pre-registration will take place May 18-20 at the Ute Mountaineer and Aspen Velo or register online at http://www.independencepass.org.Last year, the event drew a record 525 riders, some of whom competed the following day in a downtown criterium bike race. The latter event will again follow the Ride for the Pass (for more information on the criterium, call 920-5140).After zipping down the pass, participants will gather at The Cantina for drinks and prize give-aways.Ride for the Pass participation depends on the weather, according to Mark Fuller, the foundation’s executive director.”A lot of people get up on ride morning, look out their window and make their decision,” he said.Those who register the morning of the ride should show up early, he advised, as there may be a lengthy line of last-minute registrants.Ride proceeds help fund the foundation’s ongoing efforts to stabilize denuded, eroding slopes where Highway 82 cuts across steep slopes as it makes its way to the top of the pass.Work on the “top cut” – the last section before the summit on the Aspen side, will continue this fall with work on a retaining wall and slope reconstruction, according Fuller. The work will probably cost $165,000 to $190,000, he said.In the last decade or so, the foundation has probably completed some $2 million in work on the pass – about half of its actual value, as the projects often involve volunteer labor and donated material, Fuller said. Some projects are done in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation.The top-cut work will probably take another four to five years to complete. Then, the foundation may look to the other sections of the pass, including the hugely eroded slope just beyond the winter gate, where rocks often crash into the barriers placed along the inside of the highway.”If we decide to tackle those, it could be another 10 or 20 years before it’s done,” Fuller said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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