Winter cyclist wins Vail Valley commuter award
Vail, CO Colorado
VAIL VALLEY – Dawes Wilson is committed to riding his bike to work, instead of taking his car. In fact, he’s ridden his bike to work year round for the last 25 years.
“I like to be on a bike and spend as little time as possible in my car,” said Wilson. “It saves me time, money, is exercise and is environmentally positive.”
Wilson lives in Vail and commutes to Pedal Power bike shop in Eagle-Vail spring through fall and to Vail Village in winter to teach skiing. He rides almost 365 days a year, all weather, day or night.
He does own a car but it stays parked nearly all of the time. When he bought it, he rode to Aurora to get it. He commutes for errands, for business and social events.
“Dawes rode his bike to a wedding in Redstone instead of driving” said Stephen White, who nominated him for the award.
Grinning widely after hearing the announcement that he was selected this year’s winner, Wilson showed off his current commuting bike – an older, stripped-down mountain bike with lights, bell and reflectors .
“That’s all you need, nothing fancy,” said Wilson.
But Wilson is also known as a serious advocate for bike safety and has been known to approach non-helmeted cyclists to discuss how their lack of head gear may affect their staying in the gene pool, said another one of his nominators, Bob Kippola.
As a remembrance and safety message, Wilson’s helmet features a sticker with the name of a Pedal Power co-worker, Joseph Nordby, who was killed while biking.
Known widely for his work as the leader of Trails Action Group, a volunteer effort founded to maintain Forest Service trails threatened with closure, and as an accomplished mountain bike racer and winner of some very serious events (think Leadville 100 and 24 Hours of Moab), Wilson’s influence and reputation extend far.
But he starts and ends most of his days on his bike, geared up and serious about safety, making the trek to or from work, errands or events. And never a dull moment while making the journey.
“That huge snow squall that came through Dowd Junction the other day blew my helmet off as I was trying to put my hood under it and the helmet disappeared into the Eagle River” said Wilson, as he laughed and walked with his bike, back to work.
Other nominees had remarkable stories of determination and tenacity as well.
• Frederica Goldberg walks every day, all year for 2.5 miles uphill to Beaver Creek, “from 7,430 to 8,100 feet in rain, snow, sleet, sunshine” according to one nominator, after taking the bus or carpooling to the base parking lot.
• Brandi Resa walks or bikes to the bus stop in Eagle, rides to Wolcott and then walks to Gallegos Corporation on the other side of Wolcott from the bus stop, wearing safety vest and reflectors in all weather. Of the time and effort she spends commuting to work everyday, one nominator said “Brandi enjoys it and refuses rides from coworkers.”
• Mark Chapin rides his bike to and from his job as Eagle County assessor, and his fans report that “Mark comes through the office in the morning, hair standing on end, a little wobbly, but always laughing no matter what the weather and conditions have been. He definitely inspires us.”
• Linda Moore walks year round to her job in Vail, logging many miles per year, and according to her nominator, she does so for “health, environmental and spiritual reasons.”
• Jeff “Rabbit” Rodeen rides his bike to work, including his ski patrol job in winter. He uses the bike paths and trails and is “always seen with a smile and helmet, looking forward to the ride”.
• Gregg Mueller’s admiring friend nominated him as a “must” for his efforts as a commuter.
• Charlie Wolf changed addresses so he could ride to work and other activities, and can be found commuting at all hours, reports his nominator, but is properly geared up with reflectors and lights.
• Heather Byrne lives in Avon and rides two “excruciating” miles uphill to work at the Ritz Carlton Club, according to her nominator.
• Michele Davis works at the Sonnenalp in Vail and rides or walks to work all year, 2 to 3 miles daily, doesn’t own a car and if weather is bad just “powers through” to get to work. Michele also organizes the very popular annual Casual Classic Bike ride in August, but her bike stays parked as she busily manages the action.
• Dennis Smith uses buses and bikes to get where he needs to go as a resident of both the Eagle Valley and Front Range. He rides to Castle Rock from Denver, through rain, in the dark and considers moving around by bike an adventure.
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