Whit’s End: I’m new to bike commuting, but I’m excited about it | PostIndependent.com

Whit’s End: I’m new to bike commuting, but I’m excited about it

Luke Mulcahy's top priorities for his recent visit to Glenwood Springs were hiking and biking. Those aims were easy to satisfy.
Luke Mulcahy

As we pedaled down the Rio Grande Trail, I couldn’t restrain my joy. The Roaring Fork River created cool breezes, even on a 90-degree day, and the surrounding mountains provided beautiful views.

“This is so pretty,” I shouted, repeatedly, to my friend Luke.

How did I allow two months of bike ownership slip by without trying out this ride?

Luke visited last weekend from San Jose, California, with hiking and biking at the top of his to-do list. We satisfied his first requirement early Saturday with a trip to Hanging Lake. I’d been warned that parts of the Glenwood Canyon bike path were underwater, so we scrapped our intended bike route. Instead, he rented a bike, and we hopped a bus to Aspen.

I didn’t admit it on the front end, but this was to be my longest bike ride ever. My hometown of Birmingham, Alabama, isn’t the most cycling-friendly spot. I would join a 10-mile group ride when I could find a bike to borrow. But I never was motivated to buy a bike and regularly take the risk with the city’s aggressive drivers.

Friends and I pedaled 13 miles of the Rio Grande Trail during my first visit to Glenwood Springs, and it was an easy enough ride. Surely I could handle 30 miles downhill, I thought. I’m much more active now than I was during that initial ride two years ago.

Luke and I hopped on our bikes at Rubey Park Transit Center, and he gave me a quick lesson in clipping in my new-to-me cycling shoes. Then he pulled up Google Maps and led the way to the trail.

A strong headwind ensured we worked, in spite of a nearly 2,000-foot drop in elevation. And I was jubilant. I can do this, I thought. I can get around by bike.

Moving under your own power builds confidence, Heather McGregor said when we spoke about the upcoming Colorado Ride to Work Day. It’s sometimes faster than driving, since our area’s many bike paths reduce or eliminate the number of stop lights a commuter faces. And of course, health and environmental benefits abound.

I’m new to cycling, new to bike commuting. But already I’ve experienced the joy of each of the benefits Clean Energy Economy for the Region’s McGregor detailed. I’ve got to build in time for my 13-mile commute, yes. But I’ve purchased a pair of shorts for my longer rides and the aforementioned road bike shoes. You’ll see me on my bike June 28 — and, with a bit of planning, several times a week thereafter.

Wave if you ride by.

Carla Jean Whitley is a new but enthusiastic cyclist. She welcomes your stories about and tips from your own experience on two wheels. Email them to cj@postindependent.com.