Hundreds brave chilly morning at Ride for the Pass

Staff report

About 200 cyclists braved the chilly morning at the base of Independence Pass to ride up and back Saturday without having to worry about their four-wheel nemesis.

The 23rd annual Ride for the Pass event before the pass’s traditional Memorial Day weekend opening allowed for a stress-free, 10-mile ride up to the ghost town of Independence. The pass is scheduled to open Thursday and CDOT has been working on the road for weeks.

Cyclists gathered at the winter gate, which is about 5 miles east of Aspen, and rode up to the ghost town at 10,900 feet before turning around. After the brisk ride down 2,300 vertical feet, the celebration continued Saturday afternoon in Aspen at the St. Regis for the awards and celebration of a day without cars.

Saturday’s event is a major fund-raiser for the Independence Pass Foundation, which started in 1989 and works to preserve and enhance the natural environment of the popular pass.