Driving through Aspen was tedious due to all the people in cars in front of us driving too slow, gratuitously stopping, and taking too long to pass the many high-end White People Suburban Recreationalists; i.e., titanium comfort bicyclists, roller bladers on those cross-country ski-looking roller blades, baby joggers, track-suited speed walkers, etc., enjoying a lovely morning at 7,890 feet. After that our average speed over the course of the 19.8 mile drive up Independence Pass was 27.6mph; for most of the way we followed two Pitkin County Sheriff Chevy Suburbans. Along the way we passed, most notably (along with several thousand less-notable cyclists), seven Indonesian dudes in full Team SKY Pro Cycling kit and matching Team Issue Pinarello Dogmas, 18 pirate hats and/or pirate paraphernalia, 34 American Flags (in various forms and states of repair), two tall bikes (one of which was exceptionally tall), Jeremy Dunn and Ben Lieberson and Tim Johnson, a dude in a DEATH SQUAD BLACK unitard coming out of DEATH SQUAD BLACK Sprinter Van getting onto a DEATH SQUAD BLACK road bike in a turn-out on the side of the road, 3 recumbents, a tall bike unicyclist, and five American Eagle likenesses. It was already hot in the sun and because we were going so slow and it was so pleasant in the woods and whatnot, we drove with our windows rolled down, through which windows we overheard a number of conversations/declarations/sound bites/etc., the highlights of which are:“Yeah but dude, shit talker.”Anonymous “Actually mountain biking is so hard they do really well in Time Trials.”Anonymous “Alright George, this is where you’re going to hurt me.”Anonymous “I think the American Flag should always be above the State Flag, right?”Anonymous
The drive up Independence was so slow I started to day-dream about the race—which race was scheduled to start more than an hour and half after we left Aspen, and which race was on pedal bikes—passing us before we made it to the top.
At the top, after parking well beyond the KOM (exit strategy!), the first thing we noticed was that the scene, and this is based on the last two years, sucked in terms of attendance. The number of spectators on the mountain this year was, give-or-take, less than 1/1037th the number last year. Because Independence Pass is the closest thing we have in America to a monument like Galibier, L’Alpe d’Huez, Stelvio, Mont Ventoux, etc., we were bummed-out. Side note: Baldy is pretty rad, so is Cottonwood Pass. Clearly the “High Maintenance” tundra was to blame, but we’re not scientists (yet), so Emiliano and I located, sequestered and interviewed Forest Service representatives (almost scientists or maybe scientists, we don’t know) regarding the Tundra versus USA Pro Challenge challenge.
Due to superior Kia Soul placement, our well-researched Exit Strategy Plan, and Manual for Speed’s tactical reliance on our soon-to-be patented Peloton Fade Technique (PFT), we were the first vehicle to get in line behind the Broom Wagon, nearly at the end of the Caravan and ahead of everyone else including Betsy Schneider. In the beginning things went well, really well. We got to needlessly and recklessly speed on mountain roads amongst Colorado Highway Patrol and nearly capsize our rental Soul on one of the more angular switchbacks. Then the sign picker-upper vehicle (a red Ford pickup with rakes and shit expertly mounted to the cab) came from behind with some other Official riff-raff and got in front of us only to start skid-stopping without warning, a lot. After Cat 5-style accordioning off the back of the Caravan for several miles some vehicle up the road stopped super suddenly and without warning for a Nature Break, and a 37-car high-speed motorcade pile-up was only just narrowly avoided. Aggravating the injustice or maybe in an attempt to mitigate what Emiliano and I were beginning to think of as a colossal inconvenience, for three maybe four minutes all 37 cars and their occupants were essentially forced to watch, trapped & stuck as were, and too bored not to, while some exhbitionist tendency-having director-looking dude in a fake cowboy fumbled with his fly and took a whizz (not the best arc, but not embarrassing either), and lost his fake cowboy hat in a sudden breeze, and then scrambled around in the rocks chasing down his fake cowboy hat, and then realizing right before getting into his car that he needed to zip-up his fly and but at first he couldn’t because the zipper was stuck so he did some more fumbling around with his mom jeans, and then looking up seeing the 37-car traffic jam hanging on his every incompetent move, and then all sheepish and embarrassed as he was, waving to us and smiling and pantomiming like sorry guys when you gotta go you gotta go am I right.
DJ NAKA G (aka Mike Nakagawa, the father of two and an Aspen Native. He enjoys raising his family in a town where the outdoor opportunities abound, yet art, culture and sophisticationremain.) played music from the second-floor of the Red Bull Mobile Party Station stationed between the KOM and the unmarked Beer Bong Van.
- 1 Daft Punk Get Lucky
- 2 Talking Heads Naive Melody
- 3 Human League Don't You Want Me
- 4 Robin Thicke feat. TI and Pharrell Blurred Lines
- 5 Bon Jovi Living on a Prayer
- 6 Icona Pop I Love It
- 7 Red Hot Chili Peppers Due to the fact that the Red Hot Chili Peppers song in question came after Freaky Styley, Mother’s Milk and Blood Sugar Sex Magik, it’s not worth mentioning.
- 8 Dire Straits Money for Nothing
Between the bottom of the backside of Independence Pass and the town of Frisco just outside Breckenridge, MFS, driving behind Beth and another media sticker-having vehicle and a Marshal Van, averaged 95mph. In Frisco we (just MFS) stopped at a Starbucks to regroup, and at that point we decided to opt-out of the finish and opt-in to Hoosier Pass.
DJ Good Steve, who played Independence Pass last year when it didn’t suck, played Hoosier this year in large part, presumably, because Independence Pass this year sucked.