In the Saddle: Ready to ride?
Bicyclists jonesing to give their legs a workout won’t get far up Independence Pass, but locals are already pedaling up the face of Smuggler Mountain.Road bikers headed up the pass will have to settle for the grunt up to the gate and a bit of clear pavement beyond it. Reports from the field indicate anything from about 400 yards to a half-mile of clear pavement beyond the gate before you’ll hit the first patches of snow, depending on who’s doing the estimating. Warm spring days will keep pushing that snow line farther up the road.Incidentally, the 12th annual Ride for the Pass – the annual 10-mile race from the gate up to the ghost town, is scheduled for May 20. Registration is $40, and online registration is already open at http://www.independencepass.com. Bikers can sign up for the ride at the Ute Mountaineer and Aspen Velo starting May 17.The pass is scheduled to open to vehicular traffic later that weekend, but until then, it’s a playground for biking and walking. Castle Creek Road is open for early season rides, but word has it the sand and gravel on the road above Conundrum has been treacherous. However, county crews plan a cleanup today. You’ll run into snow shortly after T-Lazy 7 on Maroon Creek Road, and until the county cleans it up, expect debris on the pavement as the snow recedes.The Rio Grande Trail remains closed from the Aspen post office to the Slaughterhouse Bridge for construction work until June 30. A utility project is under way there; in addition, the trail is being widened from 8 to 10 feet of paved surface, plus a 4-foot-wide soft-surface trail next to it. Beyond the bridge, the gravel section down to Woody Creek is rideable. Below Woody Creek, it’s paved and presumably pleasant.The Owl Creek Trail will hopefully be swept by the weekend, according to Pitkin County. The Basalt-Old Snowmass and Rio Grande Trail sweeping comes first.Down in Glenwood Springs, the Glenwood Canyon paved bike trail is open, but the rising Colorado River could wash it out at some point. As for mountain biking, Smuggler is open to the platform, with the usual mud at that last corner before the platform. It’s also rideable up to the next bench, reports one of our pedaling sources.Unpaved Little Annie Road is open for the first 1.5 miles; it’s scheduled to be plowed May 15.The road up Buttermilk has been plowed, but the mountain is still snow-covered and melting, and it’s quite muddy.In the midvalley, mountain bikers are hitting Mushroom Rock and the rest of the Red Hill trails. All of it is open, reports a rider from down that way.
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