In the Saddle: Roads set free |

In the Saddle: Roads set free

Tim Dudley

Like a winded cyclist, it’s been creeping ever so slowly up and up. But Friday the snow reportedly receded to Independence Pass, opening the benchmark area road ride for the season. Now it’s your turn.The news means all of Aspen’s classic road rides are now snow free. Ashcroft, up Castle Creek Road, has been clear for days. Maroon Bells, up Maroon Creek Road, has as well but for the last 500 meters or so, which are still buried under this winter’s generous offering of snow. The pass had been inching toward the top, with snow reportedly receding to mile marker 58 on May 5, 59 on May 7, 60 on Thursday and to 62.5 on Friday.And just in time for the annual Ride for the Pass. The May 21 event raises money for the Independence Pass Foundation, which funds environmental projects on the 12,095-foot pass on Highway 82 east of Aspen.Recreational and competitive cyclists are invited to the Ride for the Pass, but not everyone is required to ascend the more than 4,000 vertical feet in about 20 miles. Choose a goal that suits you. And enjoy the views.Register at the Ute Mountaineer or Aspen Velo or visit The cost is $30 in advance and $35 on race day. A post-race party will be held at the Cantina. It’s a good time to try the ride. The pass is still closed to motorized vehicles and budding with spring life. According to reports, there have been plenty of cyclists up there already.Ashcroft and the Bells are prime right now, too. Castle Creek Road is in near perfect shape, while Maroon Creek Road is still littered in spots with sticks and twigs brought down by avalanches, but the air is fresh, the views are inspiring and the temperature is cool. On the way up, check out one slide that crossed the road, snapping the trees in its path. Fascinating.See you on the road.

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