As our avid local cyclists would say: Pedal on!
Colorado Springs and the U.S. Forest Service have agreed to open the Pikes Peak Highway to cyclists Jan. 1.
The winding highway from Cascade to the 14,115-foot summit has been closed to cyclists except those on organized rides, but a recent trial program was so successful that access will become permanent.
"We are very excited to open the Pikes Peak Highway to cyclists year round," said Karen Palus, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services Director for Colorado Springs.
More than 1,000 cyclists took advantage of a trial program in September and attempted the nearly 7,000-foot climb that covers about 19 miles.
"I am thrilled," said local cyclist and cycling advocate Al Brody, who plans to ride to the summit in January, first on a bicycle and then on a unicycle. "I think we’ll see that this will be great for tourism. I literally see a million cyclists will want to do this.”
Cyclists will pay the regular daily admission fee or can buy an annual pass. North Slope fees and passes will not apply to those riding to the summit.
While some cyclists have complained the $10 fee for those 16 and older is a bit steep, Brody says he’s OK with the fee as long as some of the money is used to enhance the experience for cyclists, such as setting aside parking for cyclists near the tollgate.
"We know avid cyclists from the Pikes Peak region and around the world will come to experience the challenge and beauty that Pikes Peak, American's Mountain, has to offer,” Palus said.
The ability to ride a bike up a 14,000-foot mountain is extraordinary, Brody said. “January is a dry month, so imagine it: a dry road, clear blue sky, snow piled up along the roadway, experiencing that on your bike.”
Brody is encouraging local hotel owners and others in the business community to promote the ride to visiting cyclists and hopes the Adventure Cycling Association will add the ride to its list of "must do" cycling routes.
“It’s the toughest challenge that you can actually do (any day) in North America,” Brody said.
Cyclists must complete a liability waiver before setting out on the roadway and riders ages 17 and younger must be accompanied by a parent or legal guardian.
"Our cyclists are so excited to be able to be up there. We've heard very loud and clear from them,” Palus said. “It's just a privilege to be able to offer that opportunity. It's not only a local thing. It's not a national thing. But it's an international opportunity."