In the Saddle: Ride on |

In the Saddle: Ride on

Bob Ward
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN ” The downtown Aspen Cycling Criterium and the Ride for the Pass last weekend formed a semi-official launch to the local riding season. Seeking an alternative to big packs of cyclists, I launched my own season in an unofficial way, and had a grand old time of it.

Just for starters, the weather last weekend could do no wrong; everybody was out on their bikes somewhere, enjoying the sun and the ongoing explosion of green. If a cyclist somehow failed last weekend to have a good time, then they were either severely depressed or caught under a moving bus.

So then, what did I do that made my weekend so great?

Nothing out of the ordinary, really. It’s just that an ordinary spring weekend in these parts can be so damned extraordinary.

On Saturday, a friend and I made a day-trip to Fruita and mountain-biked three of the so-called Kokopelli Loops, including the Troy-Built loop, a righteous, meandering singletrack that I hadn’t tried in years. The desert flowers were blooming, the trails were in perfect, firm condition, and there are few things as satisfying as an ice-cold beer after three hours of desert riding.

After returning that afternoon, another friend and I agreed to ride Independence Pass on Sunday. Owing either to penny-pinching or a failure to get out of bed, we’d both missed the Ride for the Pass the day before, but wanted to pedal up the Pass before the speeding automobiles take over.

And what a fine decision that was. Riding from Aspen to the Continental Divide is a great workout and a scenic experience under any circumstances, but it’s doubly exciting when melting snow makes the Fork really roar, and the smells of summer are especially fresh and fragrant. Dozens of riders were out Sunday, and everyone was clearly enjoying both the sunny weather and the absence of cars on the road. Riding the Pass under those circumstances is almost too good to be true; it’s like having our own alpine cycling park, a Rocky Mountain wilderness with a quiet, dedicated swath of asphalt for human-powered vehicles.

Of course, this car-free condition is short-lived (the pass opens to traffic Thursday afternoon), which makes it all the more sweet.

Whether you registered for the official rides or chose an alternative path, it was a fine two-wheeled weekend.

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