Ride for the Pass a go " so far | AspenTimes.com

Ride for the Pass a go " so far

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” To ride or not to ride ” it’s up to Mother Nature.

That was the word Tuesday from Dwayne Gaymon, the senior foreman of the Colorado Department of Transportation crews working on Highway 82 as the road winds up Independence Pass, concerning the planned Ride for the Pass on May 17.

“We’ve got the road open up to Old Town,” Gaymon said, using the CDOT crew’s nickname for the ride’s destination ” the ghost town of Independence. “But I can’t guarantee anything. It just depends on what the weather does this week. If it snows a lot on Friday night, all bets are off.”

He said the snow depth at the top of the pass has risen again to 181 percent of normal for this time of year, compared to measurements in the 155 percent range on May 9.

With the snow still falling, and temperatures staying cold both at night and in the day, CDOT officials said they are aiming for a May 30 opening of road over Independence Pass.

“But that could change, by a day or two in either direction,” said CDOT spokeswoman Nancy Shanks.

She said the crew working to open Independence Pass from the east, above the village of Twin Lakes, has had to stop work to wait for an avalanche-control team to clear out dangerous cornices above the road.

That work originally was scheduled earlier in May, but was postponed because of weather, and now is scheduled for either Wednesday or May 15. But a storm system passing over Colorado this week could mean another delay, which could push back the opening of the pass.

As for the popular annual bike ride, which is a fundraiser for the Independence Pass Foundation, organization president Mark Fuller said on Tuesday, “We’re planning for it to happen.”

He said the weather forecasts for Friday seem to indicate fair weather, but “if we wake up on Saturday morning and it’s dumping at the winter gate, we’ll have to rethink.”

He said the planned start of the competitive ride is 9 a.m. at the winter gate, and advised riders to arrive at the starting line by 8 a.m. in order to receive all the necessary race equipment. Fuller also recommended preregistration, which opens Wednesday at the Ute Mountaineer and Aspen Velo shops in Aspen.

The noncompetitive ride begins at 9:15 a.m.