Aspen’s Ride for the Pass returns

Aspen Times Staff Report
Aspen, CO Colorado
Bicyclists pedal up Highway 82 during 2007's Ride for the Pass. The annual cycling event returns May 17. (Jordan Curet/Aspen Times file)

ASPEN ” The Roaring Fork Valley has yet to enjoy a spate of ideal spring bicycling weather, but skinny-tire enthusiasts had better hit the pavement nonetheless ” the Ride for the Pass is but two months away.

The annual bike race/ride up Independence Pass, east of Aspen, will take place Saturday, May 17. As always, the event benefits the Independence Pass Foundation, which has undertaken a number of erosion-control projects on the environmentally sensitive pass.

The ride, now in its 14th year, will follow its usual route from the closure gate, 4 miles east of Aspen, to the ghost town of Independence, 10 miles up Highway 82. The race ends shy of the pass summit, but it still manages to gain about 2,200 feet of elevation, ending at 10,700 feet.

The ride gives bicyclists a chance to enjoy the scenic route while it is free of motorized traffic. The event traditionally takes place on the Saturday before the pass opens to vehicles after its winter closure. The Colorado Department of Transportation clears the route of snow ” likely to be no small undertaking this year ” to open the route for summer travel on the Friday before Memorial Day, which falls on May 26 this year.

The ride features aid stations and a post-event party, featuring free beer and bib prizes. This year, the party will take place at the Sky Hotel in downtown Aspen.

The competitive race start is at 9 a.m., followed by recreational riders at 9:15 a.m. Winning times are usually in the 40-minute range and most riders in both the race and recreational categories finish in less than two hours.

In recent years, the ride has attracted about 500 riders, and race-day registration has been crowded. Participants are encouraged to register in advance, starting May 1, when mail-in registration will be available at area bike and sports shops. Or, preregister at the Ute Mountaineer or Aspen Velo in Aspen, or the Community Bank in Basalt, on May 14-16.

Pregistration is available now at ” the online signup will be open until May 15 at noon.

The fee to register in advance is $40 per person or $70 per family.