Local women riding for local trails | VailDaily.com

Local women riding for local trails

Tamara Miller
Vail Daily/Preston Utley Louise Randall gives the new Dowd Junction bike path a test run last Thursday. The bike path is now open to the public.

Louise Randall may miss Eagle County’s first fall snow this year, but she’ll have a good excuse.Randall and friend Lisa Marano are flying to Anacortes, Wash. this week to begin a two-and-a-half month journey across America by bicycle. Their trip has several purposes: To see some country, to have some fun and to demonstrate the importance of bike trails in the Eagle Valley. “I would like to raise awareness about how important it is to have routes for safe cycling and walking through our valley as an alternative to road shoulders,” she said. Randall is the vice chairwoman of the ECO Trails committee and hopes to raise money for local trail-building efforts during her trip. Since 1996, the group has worked to construct a connected trail system connecting the top of Vail Pass at the east of the county to the mouth of Glenwood Canyon at the west end. ECO Trails receives about $400,000 per year through a half-percent transportation tax, Randall said.

“We still have about $20 to $30 million worth of trails left to build,” she said. “On that income source alone, I’ll probably be using a cane by the time the trail is done.”Their 4,500-mile journey began Tuesday. They expect to reach the end of their trip in Maine on Oct. 10. Randall and Marano are veterans in the sport of riding across countries. Three years ago the two Eagle County residents rode their bikes from Vancouver to Tijuana. That trip, challenging as it was, was only about 1,800 miles. They spent most of their nights sleeping in hotels and eating at restaurants, so they only carried about 20- to 35-pounds worth of gear with them. This time, they plan to camp, cook and carry about 65 pounds of gear each. “It’s going to be a lot more of a physical challenge this time, which brings with it a mental challenge,” she said. “How am I going to make it through all those big mountain ranges?”She’s also anticipating the rewards of cooking on the road, she said. “I’m sure I’ll rediscover Tuna Helper and macaroni and cheese,” she said. Randall and Marano will be riding along the Northern Tier Route and will log about 65 miles per day. This route will keep them north of Colorado but they encourage friends and family to meet them along the way for moral support.

Randall kept a journal during her trip three years ago. This time she is bringing 70 postcard stamps and plans to purchase a postcard each day of her trip and send it home. The biggest challenge during the first trip was being on the road right after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks occurred. “It was hard watching what the country going through and not being home,” she said. “But probably one of the biggest rewards was riding through these small towns and just appreciating the patriotism these towns have.”This time, she’s looking forward to seeing New England.”We’re both really excited,” she said. “We’ll be traveling through states I’ve never been to before. I’m also interested to see what other states have been able to do with trails and bring some of those ideas home.”Staff writer Tamara Miller can be reached via e-mail at tmiller@vaildaily.com or by calling 949-0555, ext. 607.

===========================================================How to pledge money for ECO TrailsAnyone wishing to pledge money for Louise Randall’s and Lisa Marano’s bike tour may do it by the mile, foot, inch or just make a lump sum donation to ECO Trails. Pledges can be made by e-mailing eco@eaglecounty.us with name, address and phone number. Anyone pledging funds will be sent updates on the women’s whereabouts. For more information, call 328-8523.===========================================================

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