Ride for the Pass proceeds will help clean up Lincoln Creek campsites after avalanches
IF YOU GO
What: 25th annual Ride for the Pass
When: Saturday, 10 a.m.
Where: 10-mile ride from winter gate to Independence
Cost: $45 individual; $75 family
Cyclists from the Roaring Fork Valley can help clean up the Independence Pass corridor avalanche debris this year without leaving the saddle of their bikes.
The Aspen-based Independence Pass Foundation has pledged to the U.S. Forest Service that it will help clean up designated dispersed campsites in the Lincoln Creek area and assist in campground recovery as needed, according to Karin Teague, executive director of the foundation.
“We’re anticipating there will be an unusual amount of cleanup needed,” Teague said Monday. “It’s a little hard to tell until the snow melts how much damage there is.”
IPF gets a good chunk of its annual operating budget from its signature event, Ride for the Pass. With entry fees from as many as 400 riders and sponsorships, it’s possible that the event will yield in excess of $10,000, Teague said. That money gets plowed back into IPF’s work.
The Pass, which tops out at 12,095 feet, normally gets a lot of snow. This winter was a strange beast because there was an incredibly high number of avalanches and some slides that were particularly destructive. Some of those slides KO’d the designated dispersed camping sites that are popular along Lincoln Creek, Teague said. She anticipates a major effort will be needed clearing timber and other debris.
So, riders in the event will know some of the proceeds will be going to getting facilities on the Pass back into shape this summer. IPF also will organize some volunteer workdays with partners.
The 25th annual Ride for the Pass will be held Saturday, days before the route reopens to vehicles. The 10-mile course with a 2,300-foot vertical gain will be particularly spectacular this year because of all the snow. Teague ventured up the corridor Monday and estimated 5-foot snow banks remain on the shoulders of the road in the higher elevations.
Snowmelt keeps exposing new debris in the run out of a slide that came down Green Mountain, across Highway 82 and up the opposite side of the valley. Teague said a huge boulder emerged just off the side of the road in recent days.
The road itself is clear of snow and rocks, so cyclists will have smooth sailing from the winter closure gate to Independence ghost town.
The ride starts at 10 a.m. Participants are urged to register online prior to the event. It helps the planning when organizers have an idea of the number of participants in advance. However, people are welcome to register at the closure gate on the day of the ride.
Participants can ride to the start gate 5 miles east of Aspen or take a shuttle from the Difficult Campground pullout area. Parking is limited at the winter gate.
Registration is $45 for individuals and $75 for families. There also is a 2-mile family fun ride to the Weller Lake pullout for $25 for individuals and $50 for families.
Participants can register Friday only at the Limelight Hotel between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. or go to http://www.independencepass.org/ride-for-the-pass.
The fee goes up $5 for ride-day registration. Riders must register by 9 a.m. if they want to be timed.
Participants will get to choose between a backpack and biking socks as a prize. They also get entry to the after-party with free beer and other beverages at St. Regis Hotel from 1 to 3:30 p.m. Numerous prizes will be given away in a raffle.
Independence Pass Foundation is celebrating its 30th anniversary as an organization founded to restore and protect the ecological, historical and aesthetic integrity of the Pass. The Ride has been a big part of its success.
Teague said the event attracted 50 or so riders in its first years. Now, the number has reached 300 to 400.
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