EAGLE COUNTY — Perhaps only in places like Eagle County do bike commuters roll up to work on carbon fiber mountain bikes, lycra-clad as if ready to roll off a start line. Of course, there were also a number of beater bikes dating back to the ’80s, cruisers, road bikes and bikes with training wheels carrying riders dressed in everything from business attire to jeans.
Wednesday was annual Colorado Bike to Work Day, and an estimated 500 riders turned out for the event, rolling to work instead of driving and stopping at aid stations along the way to chat, grab a bite to eat, sip on a cup of coffee and even win some prizes. Six different stations, sponsored by local businesses and restaurants served everything from breakfast burritos (offered in Gypsum, Eagle and Dowd Junction), lox and cream cheese bagels (Edwards), doughnuts from Northside in Avon and even a gourmet spread catered by Sonnenalp in Vail. That’s right — during your commute to work it was possible to have eaten three full burritos, a pastry and a bagel if you had been up for the task.
UNIQUE, FUN AID STATIONS
Ellie Caryl of ECO Trails, which organized the local event, said part of the fun is coming up with ways to make each aid station unique and fun. Stationed at the Edwards location on the corner of U.S. Highway 6 and Edwards Village Boulevard, the “rush hour” was shortly before 8 a.m.
“There was a whole pack of people commuting together down to Eagle,” Caryl said.
In Eagle County, the tradition started when Pedal Power bike shop owner Bruce Kelly started observing the “holiday” in the ’90s. In 2001, the ECO Trails Committee expanded it to include the other aid stations in 2001.
Because we love to bike
The event drew a number of people who said they try to commute on a regular basis, while others were encouraged to get out because of Bike to Work Day. Wildridge resident Carrie Eckenhoff said she always participated in the event when she lived in Denver. In the valley, she usually rides from home to the Avon Recreation Center, where she works, but on Wednesday she put in some extra miles to visit some of the nearby aid stations.
“I try to commute a couple days a week,” she said. “I do it because I just like riding my bike.”
Edwards resident Jeff Sample and his six-year-old son, Hayden, were riding to the WECMRD skateboard camp on Wednesday morning. Sample said his entire family tries their best to bike commute.
“(Hayden) also rides to school, and we’ve been doing with one car for a year” said Sample. “We don’t use cars on the weekends. We all get out on bikes to go to the market, and we even have a trailer for his little sister.”
Others see it as a way to save gas. Stanley Carpenter figured that even though his work commute is only a mile, he was spending a good amount of gas money driving those few miles a day. He’s even perfected his bike-to-work outfit, with smart-looking waterproof and sweat-wicking clothing that also meets the dress code at the bank where Carpenter works.
Commuter Dave LaGrange was riding from Edwards to Gypsum for a work meeting. It was one of the longer commutes of the day, but it was a regular ride to work for LaGrange. He usually works in Vail, but doesn’t own a car, so he rides instead. He said he sometimes even goes out to East Vail before heading back to the hospital where he works to get extra mileage.
“I like the exercise, and the freedom of riding is beautiful. Also, you run into people you know on the bike trail all the time,” he said.
Like true mountain denizens, a number of commuters on Wednesday had dirt on their knobby tires from riding trails. One rider admitted he worked from home but hopped on the singletrack to ride into town so he could visit a few of the stations.
Ron Gruber, en route to Fox Hollow Veterinary Clinic in Edwards, rode to work via the new Saddleridge singletrack in Avon.
“I’ve been loving that trail. I just leave my clothes at work and I get a good 45 minutes of riding in getting to work,” he said.
And why take the trouble? He shrugs. “I just love riding.”
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and email@example.com.