Bike tour isn’t yet a done deal

Jason Auslander
The Aspen Times

The Aspen-area routes for this summer’s Ride the Rockies bicycle tour announced last weekend have yet not been approved by Pitkin County commissioners.

And while the routes were more acceptable to commissioners Tuesday than the ride’s initial plans presented to the board last month, they might need some more tweaking before board members are willing to sign off on them.

Mike Kraemer of the county’s Community Development Department told commissioners Tuesday that event organizers want to spend three days in the Aspen area during the weekend before the Food & Wine Classic. They are not requesting any road closures, he said.

On June 11, they want to have 50 VIP riders tag along with Aspen Gran Fondo’s 50-mile ride that will use McLain Flats Road, Brush Creek Road and Owl Creek Road, Kraemer said. A total of 150 riders would participate in that ride, he said.

The next day, Ride the Rockies wants to start near Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale, head up to Missouri Heights and into Willits and on to the Rio Grande Trail into Aspen, where many riders would peel off and camp at Aspen High School, he said. That would include all 2,000 riders on the tour.

Finally, June 13, the riders would head over Independence Pass to Copper Mountain, Kraemer said.

Commissioner George Newman noted that the ride had already started to advertise the Aspen-area routes and wondered what would happen if commissioners decided to tweak or deny the routes.

Kraemer said the organizers took a chance by announcing the route with an asterisk saying they hadn’t been approved yet, and will amend their plans based on what commissioners decide to do.

Commissioner Michael Owsley praised the organizers for taking into account previous commissioner comments, saying he appreciated spreading the routes among other towns in the valley.

But Commissioner Rachel Richards said she was concerned about the use of the Rio Grande Trail. She wondered what would happen if a crash occurred and how long riders would take over the trail on a Sunday when others would be using it.

She suggested having the riders use Highway 82 with rolling closures all the way into Aspen from Carbondale.

Kraemer said the Pitkin County Open Space and Trails Board would have to approve a permit for Ride the Rockies to be able to use the Rio Grande Trail.

Richards also pointed out that 2,000 riders heading up Independence Pass will require road closures as well.

A county special events committee will meet later this month to discuss the Ride the Rockies application and make a recommendation to commissioners, probably in March, Kraemer said.