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Ride a bike for fun, and for health

I’ll admit it — I have a lifelong love affair with the bicycle.

Anybody who has read my columns over the years knows that to be the case. I believe it is the last form of innocent transportation. Its simplicity and efficiency are a marvel. It takes human effort to propel and yet rewards that effort with sublime effortless travel in the bliss of the downhill. It can be ridden by adults and children, kings and peasants, grandfathers and granddaughters.

This magical and ecological machine is making a comeback. First and foremost, Americans are hitting the sidewalks and streets on foot and by pedal in record numbers. From 1990 to 2009, the number of trips taken on foot more than doubled from 18 billion to 42.5 billion. Similarly, the number of bike trips increased from 1.7 billion to 4 billion.

I have witnessed this firsthand here in Pagosa Springs. More and more of our locals are riding their bicycles instead of driving their cars for running around.

High gas prices are forcing Americans to hop on their bikes … bringing about a “cultural revolution” as the country learns how to ride a bike again.

To be realistic, I realize that high gas price is not in itself enough of a compelling factor to make a majority of American adults become cyclists. And I’ve learned to be at peace with that belief.

But, I’m also a dreamer, and I do expect otherwise.

I would like to see bicycling become a tool for being healthy and staying healthy. Over the last couple of weeks, we’ve seen thousands of cyclists come through Pagosa with Ride the Rockies and Bicycle Tour of Colorado. These folks pay to ride. They love it. They can’t seem to get enough of it.

Speaking of folks who are out on their bicycles; the duathlon trails for the Pagosa duathlon “Do-the-Du” are getting hammered by local mountain bikers training for the July 10 event. If you are competing but have not registered, please don’t forget to do so. It’s easy. Simply go online to www.acvap.org and download a registration form. Registrations can be dropped off at the recreation center or mailed to Pagosa Duathlon, P.O. Box 5444, Pagosa Springs, CO 81147.

You may have also seen an increase in bike traffic going up to Wolf Creek Pass and back down. These riders are training for the Wolf Creek Ride and Reggae 100k. This is a USA Cycling non-competitive benefit ride. The ride begins and ends downtown Pagosa Springs in Town Park. Two distance options: 100k with 5,500 feet of elevation gain. A shorter ride of 48 miles is a direct route with 4,200 feet of gain. Both rides have the pleasure of climbing to the Wolf Creek Ski area. This means you get to cross the summit twice! Pound the pedals to almost 11,000 feet, then groove on back to the park for an afternoon of soaking in the river, enjoying amazing reggae music from renowned artist Pato Banton, sip a cold beer and enjoy great food. This family-friendly event is just the way to chill on a mountain day in July. Ride hard, rest easy and support a great cause in the process.?For more information and registration information, please go to www.joingecko.org.

Come July 31, you will get to see hundreds of cycling enthusiasts show up to test strength, will power and endurance. They won’t make the journey to compete against each other, but against the relentless challenge of the climb.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a more scenic setting for this bike event. When the riders pull back into Pagosa Springs after conquering the mountain, you’ll want to be in their ranks. Lube your bike chain, air up the tires and meet me at the pass. I’ll be waiting for you — and I can’t wait for the Wolf Creek Ride and Reggae. Another classic bike event will soon be born.

The recreation center will be closed Sunday, July 4. We will stay open on Saturday, July 3, even though the community will be either participating in or watching our traditional Independence Day Parade hosted by the noon Rotary Club of Pagosa Springs.

The Pagosa Lakes Property Owners Association offices will be closed on Monday, July 5. Have a patriotic and safe holiday.