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Ride the Rockies to pass through Aspen

Aspen Times staff report
Aspen, CO, Colorado

ASPEN – The west side of Independence Pass will get its due twice this summer as one of the classic bicycle rides in Colorado.

Ride the Rockies announced this weekend that its mountain tour once again will go through Aspen and over Independence Pass, on June 12. The 2,000-plus riders will stay in Carbondale the night of June 11 and head to Leadville via Independence Pass.

The U.S. Pro Cycling Challenge previously had announced that it would treat the best men’s cyclists in the world to a double dose of Independence Pass during its race in August. The men will race from Gunnison to Aspen on Aug. 22, climbing the east side of the pass, then plummeting into Aspen. They will stay overnight in Aspen, then climb the west side of the pass on Aug. 23 en route to Beaver Creek.

Neither Ride the Rockies nor the Pro Cycling Challenge is a stranger to Independence Pass. Challenge racers climbed the east side and descended into Aspen last year.

Ride the Rockies last scaled the pass in 2009, climbing the east side and descending into Aspen. The ride also came through town in June 2007 and in its inaugural year, 1986.

Carbondale expects a big economic boost from the tour as an overnight host town. The riders, and their entourages, will be eager for grub and grog when they arrive in town the afternoon of June 11. The ride will start that day in Hotchkiss, travel 68 miles, including a climb up McClure Pass, and end in Carbondale.

After breakfast, riders will head to Aspen and tackle the big climb over Independence Pass. They will spend the night in Leadville.

A website affiliated with Ride the Rockies that provides detailed descriptions of the routes doesn’t mention the Rio Grande Trail, which could be used by riders between Carbondale and Woody Creek. Instead, the website directs riders onto county roads and frontage routes, when possible.

The Rio Grande Trail was a big hit with the riders in 2009 and in 2007, when it was partially constructed.


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