High Altitude Society column: 31st annual Sonnenalp Casual Classic supports ECO Trails | VailDaily.com

High Altitude Society column: 31st annual Sonnenalp Casual Classic supports ECO Trails

On a spectacular bluebird Colorado day, a group of bicyclists awakened early to participate in the Sonnenalp Hotel's 31st annual Casual Classic to support the Eagle County Regional Trails System and the Sonnenalp of Vail Foundation.

Touted as being a class act, with seamless organization and a "they do such a great job" air to the event, the resulting group dynamic was fun and upbeat. From the delicious breakfast burritos, crispy applewood bacon, pastries and coffee to the smooth bus ride over to Breckenridge to the aid stations set up along the bike route, no detail was left undone.

Riders enjoyed a stunningly beautiful 38-mile journey back from Breckenridge to the Sonnenalp Hotel's Bully Ranch restaurant. There gathered a fit group of cyclists of all kinds: competitive, recreational and the clearly casual.

Sonnenalp proprietor Johannes Faessler greeted his guests with a warm welcome and thanked all of the sponsors and partners, including Colorado Mountain Express, the Sonnenalp staff volunteers and Vail Bike Technicians.

"Thank you to the community businesses and owners who donated silent auction items, and, of course, thank you to (event organizer) Michele Davis. … It always turns out wonderful. Thank you for another great event," Faessler said.

Davis, of the Sonnenalp of Vail Foundation, was pleased with the annual event.

Recommended Stories For You

"The 31st Casual Classic just keeps getting better and better every year," she said. "Thank God for the perfect weather and for all of my dependable, hard-working volunteers and for their energy and for Rosana and Johannes Faessler for the unlimited opportunity platform to do whatever it takes for our amazing Vail community. Stay tuned for next year's announced date — it's a must-do for everyone in Vail."

Vote for trails

Faessler then introduced Vail Town Council member Dick Cleveland, who spoke about a ballot initiative that will be voted on in the November election that would add more trails to the existing system without an increase in taxes. This news fell on open ears, as the entire group consisted of avid trail users.

"There is a ballot initiative this fall that would be awesome support for our trail system," Faessler said. "The trails group has been working for 20 years to build a trail system, and it gets better every year. They would like to add more miles to the system."

"I encourage you to look at the trails initiative and understand that there will be no new taxes, it is extending existing tax and it will allow us to connect our trails end to end," Cleveland said. "This is an opportunity for us to complete this project. … This year is ECO Trails' 20th anniversary, and this is an opportunity for us to make a huge difference."

Then it was time for riders to win door prizes and silent auction items, all while enjoying the outstanding lunch buffet prepared by Executive Chef Florian Schwarz and his staff. The Bully Ranch restaurant has one of the most glorious decks on which to relax and take in the garden views. With the changing of the fall foliage, it is the perfect place to sit and take in the waning days of summer before the leaves and snow fly.

The proceeds of the Casual Classic ride are distributed between the Sonnenalp of Vail Foundation and ECO Trails, which is Eagle County's beautiful bike path system that requires annual improvement, upkeep and maintenance. To learn more about the work of the Sonnenalp of Vail Foundation, visit http://www.sonnenalp.com.

Betty Ann Woodland is a longtime local who covers social events including fundraisers for nonprofits, local happenings and soirees of all kinds.