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Eagle County bikes to work

Melanie Wong
mwong@vaildaily.com
In this June 2015 photo, local resident Connie Gardner is seen riding her bike on the Eagle Valley Trail between Eagle-Vail and Vail. The trail is popular with commuters like Gardner who use it to get from home to work and back.
Townsend Bessent | Townsend@vaildaily.com |

Keep Riding

The Eagle County Sole Power Challenge encourages local residents to trade in their car ride for a bike ride, board ride or walk instead. Log your miles and join the competition at http://www.solepower.org and share your commuting experiences on Twitter and Instagram @evsolepower or on Facebook at Eagle Valley Sole Power.

EAGLE COUNTY — Hundreds of Eagle County commuters left their car keys at home on Wednesday morning and opted instead to ride their bikes to work for Colorado’s annual celebration of green commuting.

ECO Trails partnered with a number of towns and businesses to set up six aid stations up and down the valley, handing out refreshments, coffee and prizes to commuters through the morning. The event drew regular commuters who were grateful for a morning treat, as well as cyclists who pulled their bikes out especially for Bike to Work Day.

“People like to come out especially because of the support and the hubbub,” said Jared Barnes, of ECO Trails and Transit, who was at Avon’s aid station handing out Northside donuts and Starbucks coffee. “We’ve seen everyone from a group of employees from Walking Mountains riding together to a guy on a fat bike and wearing work slacks come by.”



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Discovering a new commute



Eagle County’s Bike to Work Day, which is observed throughout Colorado, began its traditions when Pedal Power bike shop owner Bruce Kelly started serving muffins 15 years ago at his shop for the occasion. It grew and expanded both in the number of stops and quality of cuisine. These days, Kelly sponsors the bustling Dowd Junction stop, famous for its burritos. The town of Vail partners with Sonnenalp Hotel in the village for another gourmet stop, while ECO Trails serves bagels and lox in Edwards. Downvalley, Eagle and Mountain Pedaler bike shop pass out breakfast sandwiches while Gypsum has its own rendition of the breakfast burrito. Needless to say, no one went hungry on their commute.

“It’s neat because the towns and businesses are starting to partner and really make the aid stations their own,” said Ellie Caryl, of ECO Trails. “We see people who tell us they do it every year. Then there are the people who do it regularly and another whole set of people who are just discovering bike commuting and making it part of their lives.”

In the “regular commuter” category, Marisa Sheehan was on her regular ride from Avon to the Shaw Regional Cancer Center in Edwards. She had her commuter bike equipped with a bell, basket and spare tire and said she rides to work as a habit, sometimes even in the rain.



“I love the view of the river and the mountains and the smell of the air, and I say my prayers while I’m riding,” she said.

Rider Tracy Walters said he rides to work in Edwards a few days each week and has learned some of the tricks to make bike commuting work.

“You kind of have to plan ahead, because it’s inconvenient to show up on your bike and find out you have a meeting in Silverthorne in an hour,” he said. “I keep a change of clothes in the office that’s more business attire. I try to do that because it’s hard to commute with everything you might need during the day.”

Sole Power Challenge

Meanwhile, Eagle County’s Sole Power Challenge encourages commuters to keep up the riding. The summer challenge, held by the town of Vail and the Vail Rec District, allows residents to log and track their non-vehicle miles online. There are regular giveaways as well as an overall competition for most miles and most trips. Businesses or groups of friends can even form teams for the group competition.

“Right now we have just over 100 participants who are logging miles. We started on Memorial Day, and so far we’ve logged just over 6,298 miles, which translates to 5,600 pounds of carbon emissions reduced and $770 of gas money saved,” said Sole Power coordinator Mark Hoblitzell. “We would love to crack 50,000 miles by the end of the summer.”

It’s not too late to sign up for the challenge at http://www.solepower.org. Participants can also follow the challenge on Twitter and Instagram (@EVSolePower) or on Facebook at Eagle Valley Sole Power to post their own commuting pictures or join in for giveaway challenges.

Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at mwong@vaildaily.com. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.


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