Get ready to Ride for the Pass |

Get ready to Ride for the Pass

Aspenites Gerry Bohn, left, and George Burtch make the ride up a closed Highway 82 towards Independence Pass Monday, May 2, 2005 as they get in some preseason biking. Aspen Times photo/Mark Fox.

ASPEN ” Independence Pass remains covered in snow, luring snowmobilers and skiers to explore its wintery glory, but local bicyclists are hitting the spin classes and awaiting the season’s first warm, dry biking days. After all, the Ride for the Pass is a mere three months or so away.

The 13th annual charity bike race/recreational ride to benefit the Independence Pass Foundation will be held on Saturday, May 19. The ride will follow its traditional route, taking bicyclists from the winter gate, four miles east of Aspen, to the ghost town of Independence, about 10 miles up Highway 82 on Independence Pass. The ride gains approximately 2000 feet of elevation ” going from 8,500 feet at the start to 10,500 feet at the finish line.

Highway 82 over Independence Pass typically opens to vehicle travel for the summer season on the Friday before Memorial Day. The Ride for the Pass is traditionally held the Saturday prior to the opening of the road, giving racers and recreational riders the opportunity to ride the stunningly scenic route while it is free of motorized traffic. There are aid stations and turnaround sites at various points along the route in case of accidents, illness or breakdown.

The ride is followed by a party in Aspen, featuring free beer and prize giveaways for participants, including a new mountain bike.

This year’s Ride for the Pass will follow its usual format ” a 9 a.m. race start, followed by the family/recreational start at 9:15 a.m. Winning race times are usually around 40 minutes with most riders in both race and recreational categories finishing in less than two hours.

In recent years, the ride has attracted around 500 riders and start-line registration has been crowded, so riders are encouraged to pre-register prior to the event. Mail-in registration forms will be available at local bike and sporting goods shops after May 1. Pre-registration can be done in person at the Ute Mountaineer and Aspen Velo in Aspen on May 16-18.

Pre-registration will also available on-line via the Independence Pass Foundation website ( or at after March 1.

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