Ride the Rockies is a 400+ mile, week long bicycle tour through the Colorado Rocky Mountians. It started in 1986, and that year was the only year that it’s route came through Aspen, besides this year. Over 2,000 cyclists (limited to 2,000) ride for 6-7 days, averaging 65 miles a day.
This year they landed in Aspen on day 5, spent the night and then headed over Independence Pass on their day 6. I had the pleasure of joining them on their ride over the Pass. It was an early start for all, as they had worked it out with the Highway Patrol to close the narrow sections of the Pass until 8:30 am. The perfect Colorado blue sky, still morning air, and mild temperatures, 55F, made for a pleasant start to a long day in the saddle for all.
I knew for me that it would be an Epic day, 50 or so miles, TONS of high elevation climbing, and getting to enjoy,(suffer) it with 2,000 bicyclist in such a pristine place, could not be beat. But best of all, I was getting out of work, to go ride. I was going to ride this from my house, which adds mileage to the ride.
The ride went very well, 2 1/2 hours of spinnin and grinnin, to the summit. I must have passed 80% of the riders, which suprised me. I have not been training at all this summer, and they have been on the road for 5 days. Those that passed by me, were stoked to see the uni guy. One group that was powering up the pass, when passing me, said aloud, Wow- now I feel like dog shit. It was great to re-connect with quite a few of the riders, whom I have met over the years in the different hillclimbing events. Everyone was blown away by the scenery,and by Independence Pass. Amazing, how incredible scenery can ease the pain and suffering from a hard climb.
I summited the Pass, 12,095’ above sea level, to huge cheers and clapping. High fives were exchanged to all participants, this was their biggest day in the saddle, not in mileage, but in climbing gain. I have never been on the summit with over a thousand bicyclist before, quite the party going on!! The weather was to nice not to leave, not to often its that nice at 12,095’, so I stayed as long as I could. Talked to hundreds of people, young and old, about their tour. They were all having such a great time, and enjoyed the Aspen area.
The tour kept going to Leadville, and I turned back to Aspen. What fun it was to experience the climb up Independence Pass with 2,000 bicyclist. THe grind back down the pass was long and hard at times, but I made it back to my house feeling pretty good.It was a semi-long day in the saddle for me, but defineltly beat work. The Colorado Rocky Mountains were awesome that day, and kind to the Ride the Rockies participants. I was grateful to have been able to be part of their incredible adventure!
50 miles (80 kilometers) 18 miles climbing (29 kilometers)
14,000’ foot total elevation , 7,000’ up - 7,000’ down ouch (4,267 meters total, 2,133 meters up - 2,133 meters down, ouch)
12,122’ above seal level High Point (3,695 meters)
10,000’+ average riding elevation (3048 meters)
6 1/2 hrs total time
5 1/3 hrs moving time
7.6 mph climbing average (12.2 km/hr)
156 bpm average heart rate