Sunday, April 20, 2008

Climbing Independence Pass, May 18, 2008 from Aspen, Colorado

This isn't a Spinning Profile (although I can turn it into one! Just sit and climb for 2 hours with very little standing climbs until the very end)! It's an annual ride my husband and I do with friends each year. It becomes our benchmark for our cycling fitness. It's the harbinger for summer riding around here. Independence Pass is one of the highest passes in Colorado and goes over the Continental divide at 12,095 feet. From Aspen, it is 18+ miles, with over 4,000 ft of elevation gain, at an average of 4% grade (much steeper at the top). This will be our 7th year riding the pass the weekend before Memorial weekend. They clean the road, clear it of snow and debris, and hold an organized race on Saturday. We go on Sunday, with just a sprinkling of other dedicated cyclists in Colorado. It is still closed to cars until Memorial weekend, so it is an amazing experience, and strikingly beautiful.  

It takes between 2 and 3 hrs for the average cyclist (depending on your training and your bike). Elite cyclists of course can do it much faster. My goal is to beat 2h15 this year. Mind you, almost all of my training is in Spin classes, because I am a wimp, and I just do not like riding outside with lots of clothes on, and I get very cold, very fast. I do not mind, however, climbing while staying warm and then piling on the clothes for the cold descent. 

Except if  snow is actually falling - I draw the line there. Only once in the last 6 years of riding The Pass did I turn around about 2 miles from the top when it was snowing and my teeth were already chattering. On the descent I was shaking so much I could barely brake.

Now, don't let that scare you if you are thinking of coming to join us on this ride! I get cold faster than almost anyone I know - many others we ride with (including my husband) don't even bother with leg warmers, heavy gloves and might only put arm warmers and a windbreaker on for the descent, and they tease me about the amount of clothes I personally need! Besides, 5 out of the past 6 years we've had great weather, often with very warm temps at the bottom, and sun the entire way until the very top.  There's always snow at the top, but that makes for great photos.  This year, with the record snowfall in Colorado, I imagine there will be walls of snow for the final few miles, but I am still counting on a sunny day (the eternal optimist in me). And if it's not, we're still climbing! (Uh, unless it snows, I'll be turning around and heading for the hot tub, but I guarantee the others will still climb). 

This is an invitation to anyone who wants to join us to come ride with us on Sunday, May 18th, 2008! We stay in Aspen the night before on May 17th, usually at The Gant and ride from there. Often we'll do a pasta-feed pot luck. If you live anywhere near Aspen, you can also just join us in the morning. We try to leave around 9:00-9:30 depending on the weather. After the ride, we celebrate with beers and Mexican food in town.

For more information, please contact me at  And get out and climb, climb, climb! (Or do a lot of Strength rides in your Spinning classes)! Remember, you are much stronger and more efficient in the saddle over long climbs. Save your standing climbs for when you need power, and for the final push.


Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm in Jennifer!! I'm totally looking forward to the first ride of the season. Only this year I'm ahead of the game,and I have already been on my bike once!!!

Jennifer Sage said...

Cool Joni, it will be fun to ride with you again. You've got me beat - I haven't yet been riding outside! And it's only 2 weeks away - Yikes! I heard they're having trouble plowing all the snow, it's the most they've had in 25 years. :-0