High Altitude Society: Sonnenalp Casual Classic Bike Ride benefits ECO Trails
Bright and early on Saturday morning, Sept. 12, a band of intrepid cyclists hit the trails for a 38-mile ride from Breckenridge to Vail for the 30th annual Casual Classic noncompetitive bike tour.
One hotelier from the Sonnenalp may have biked from Vail to Breckenridge and back to Vail for an impressive round trip. Host Johannes Faessler greeted more than 100 cyclists after the ride and pointed out the maps of the ECO Trails system.
“Thank you for participating in the Sonnenalp Casual Classic,” he said. “Please be aware of the posters of the proposed paths from Eagle-Vail to Dotsero. … It has really been terrific to see what has been done over the last three decades from when we had just a few bike paths to what has happened from the efforts of the ECO Trails Committee and Eagle County.”
A thank-you went out to program manager Ellie Caryl, who oversees the planning and construction of the 63-mile-long Eagle Valley Regional Trail System, and ECO Trails Committee members Louise Randall and Kent Rose were honored for their commitment to supporting the trail system and this event for many years.
“We are very proud of what you are doing and for keeping us on the road and for keeping us safe,” Faessler said and then asked Rose, “How long have you been on the trails committee?”
Rose answered chidingly, “I don’t know … since the dinosaurs were around.”
Faessler continued, “We have been supporting this for years and helped to build awareness for this cause, and I think that it makes our valley a better place to be.”
“We had over 30 Sonnenalp volunteers and former employees who come back each year, as it has become an annual event for them,” Faessler said. “They get up really early in the morning to set everything up … and to the crew here at the Bully Ranch who helped provide all of the food for today.
“So, thank you for the 30 years that we have been doing this. It has been really fun. And we are going to try for another 30. So, let’s see how that goes.”
Some had a smooth ride on bikes with a pedal-assist boost that gives the rider an obvious encouragement along the way and put a smile on their faces and pep in their steps and spin.
“You may have seen some riders on the electronic bikes. Those E-bikes will extend your biking career substantially,” Faessler said and then acknowledged some veteran riders. “Three couples have been here since the first event 30 years ago. … We wanted to give those three couples some bike jerseys. … Thirty years and they did not get lost once.”
Among those riders were Pete and Carole Feistmann, who are committed cyclists both stateside and abroad, often planning their own bike trips in Europe.
Additional thanks went out to Justin Allison for providing the entertainment, organizer Michele Davis of the Sonnenalp of Vail Foundation, Kenny Freedman and Brad from Vail Sports, the entire ECO Trails committee, Eagle County bus system, the riders and all of the volunteers.
Betty Ann Woodland is a longtime local who covers social events including fundraisers for nonprofits, galas and soirees of all kinds. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Up until now, the county has been a referral agency relegated to commenting on the plan but that could change if developers plan water service extension to the site