Off the Hill: Green commuting promoted throughout the Vail Valley with Sole Power (video) | VailDaily.com

Off the Hill: Green commuting promoted throughout the Vail Valley with Sole Power (video)

Leave the car at home and bike, walk, run or skate to your destination. That's the goal of Sole Power, an active commuting initiative that aims to increase miles traveled and fitness levels while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and gas bills.

In its seventh year, the Sole Power challenge runs from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. The rules are simple, any trip counts as long as it replaces a motorized vehicle and is not purely recreational.

To date, Sole Power participants logged more than 175,000 miles and saved around $3,500 in gas money. This collective effort also resulted in reducing more than 85 tons of greenhouse gases.

Mika Poulos is an office coordinator at Slifer Smith and Frampton Real Estate and heard about Sole Power through work. "I had already made a personal goal to bike to work so I was thrilled to read about this initiative and meet the people behind it," said Poulos.

Poulos' round-trip commute is 15.5 miles and she can already feel the fitness benefits. "After two weeks I cut my commuting time by seven minutes on the way to work, which is uphill," said Poulos.

While Poulos rides to work, Barbara Hoch walks. Since she lives in Eagle and works in Avon at Rocky Mountain Planning Group, Hoch takes the bus to manage the commute. She also logs steps to the grocery store, library and restaurants to meet friends. She logs 35 to 40 miles walking six to seven days a week.

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"Walking all the miles I do helps me get into shape for all the hiking I enjoy during the summer," said Hoch. "It’s great mentally, too. I find I have plenty of time to clear my head and let my thoughts wander."

Sole Power participants are not only rewarded with increased fitness benefits, but also $12,000 worth of prizes. This year, sponsors have donated hotel stays, restaurant gift certificates, bike tunes, gear and happy hour events for participants.

If you'd like to go the extra mile without the use of a car, check out their website to learn more at http://www.solepower.org

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