EAGLE COUNTY — We’re all used to seeing bicyclists throughout the day — young, old, some on mountain bikes, some on beach cruisers — but they’re usually not dressed for work.
Colorado’s Bike to Work Day was Wednesday, taking an act done for exercise or pleasure and turning it into a movement for a greener way of life. June is Colorado’s bike month, so when Eagle County’s ECO Trails department saw the opportunity to give back to those in the community who choose biking as their means of travel, they teamed up with local businesses and sponsors to put the gear in motion.
“We see all kinds of bikes, a mixed crowd, and all ages strolling along,” ECO Trails Program Manager Ellie Caryl said Wednesday.
ECO Trails and its volunteers oversee the multi-use trail system through the Eagle River Valley. Fifteen years ago, ECO Trails teamed up with local businesses and sponsors in the area to gain support for the Bike to Work Day as the idea first began with Pedal Power, a bike shop in Eagle-Vail that first started doing something special for biking commuters, providing Bike to Work Day refreshments in those early years.
The event has grown, and from 7 to 9 a.m. Wednesday, aid stations across Eagle County gave bikers refreshments to keep them going strong on their way to work. The stops included Mayors Park in Vail, the Malin pedestrian bridge in Dowd Junction, Mountain Pedaler in Eagle and along U.S. Highway 6 in Avon, Edwards and Gypsum.
Perhaps you found yourself at the Avon aid station, stopping for a doughnut provided by one of the sponsors, Northside Kitchen. Or maybe Mayors Park was a convenient place for you to rest on your morning ride, with food provided by the Sonnenalp Hotel. Prizes were also up for grabs. ECO Trails received goodies from Vail Resorts, including lift passes and gift cards, which people signed up for when they passed through the aid stations. People bike for more than just food and prizes, though.
“There’s physical health, mental health, community camaraderie, economic benefits and people just really enjoy it,” Caryl said.
Kristen Bertuglia is the director of Eagle Valley’s Sole Power Challenge, an operation allowing bikers to log their miles online, which gets them entered into raffles each week for prizes. Sole Power stands behind Bike to Work Day, providing another opportunity for people to get their numbers up. The Sole Power Challenge is to reduce Vail’s carbon footprint by 20 percent by 2015.
“It’s simple— get fit, save the planet and save gasoline,” Bertuglia said.
Dave Taylor biked from Eagle-Vail to his job in Avon at Venture Sports, where he’s the general manager. Taylor usually rides his mountain bike to work despite the “nice car” he owns, and on an average day does anywhere from 15 to 25 miles between home, the shop and the company’s warehouse.
Taylor said it’s common for those who only ride their bikes on certain days to find that their tires and chains need some attention, so they’ll go into Venture Sports for a tune-up.
“Other than health reasons, it’s more convenient at times than driving a car because of parking scenarios around here,” Taylor said. “In a world where you’re non-stop, riding your bike gives you a chance quiet your mind and regroup.”