Glenwood Springs city manager goes the distance |

Glenwood Springs city manager goes the distance

Pete FowlerPost Independent StaffGlenwood Springs, CO Colorado
Chad Spangler/Post Independent With is bicycle sitting in the background, Glenwood Springs City Manager Jeff Hecksel sits inside of his office at City Hall on Friday afternoon.

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – Mayor Bruce Christensen is well-known for his penchant for bicycling and appeared on the cover of a chamber publication clad in biking gear, but City Manager Jeff Hecksel is no stranger to the sport, either.”He’s a much more serious cyclist than I am,” Christensen said. “I wish I were anywhere near Jeff’s level.”

“I spend a fair amount of time on the bike,” Hecksel said, admitting that he rode more than 10,000 miles last year, including some of them on an indoor training machine during the winter.By comparison, Christensen said he rides maybe 2,500 miles a year. Hecksel said last year was unusual for him, however, because he doesn’t normally ride that much and he doesn’t normally count the miles. He hasn’t ridden 10,000 miles since 1997 and has generally gotten in only half or three-quarters as many miles as he used to since he became a city manager.The milder 2006-07 winter also allowed Hecksel to hit the pavement in January and February. He said it’s drier than where he used to live in Monmouth, Ore., and here you can ride in 35-degree weather if the sun is out, you have warm clothes and the roads are clear. He lived in the Pacific northwest for about 18 years and has biked or walked to work most days for about 20 years.Hecksel also competed in bike races in Oregon through most of the 1990s but hasn’t done as much competing in Colorado.”I humor myself. I race a little bit,” he said. “I’ve never been any good – I do it for fun.”During an interview for the Glenwood Springs city manager position in 2004, Hecksel and Christensen discovered they had actually been on the same “Pedal the Peaks” bicycle tour a few years earlier in Colorado. Hecksel accepted the job in September 2004.”What prompted me to apply is for a period of time I had kind of been interested in moving to Colorado, but I’m choosy about the places I look,” he said.He and his wife, Toni, liked the area’s opportunity for outdoor activity and wanted to be in the mountains. Hecksel only wanted to work for a city that had its own electric utility. The swimming pool was just being constructed, which was good. Hecksel said they would only move to a community with a pool since Toni is a swimmer.

“She’s a much better swimmer than I am a cyclist,” he said.Coincidentally, they met at a swimming pool where Toni was a lifeguard.”I didn’t fake drown or anything like that,” Hecksel said.Before the Pacific northwest, Hecksel got a master’s degree in public administration from Arizona State University and worked for the city of Mesa, Ariz. He obtained an undergraduate degree in local government administration from Central Michigan University. He was born in Grand Haven, Mich.Despite his athleticism in biking, Hecksel said he’s never been on a pair of skis. He did try snowboarding years ago and plans to try it again since his oldest son, Phillip, 9, wants to take snowboarding lessons. Hecksel also has a 6-year-old son, David.This year he volunteered for the Two Rivers Cycling Club, where he helped get kids interested in bicycling and teach them how to ride safely.”The idea is to get them interested in cycling,” he said. “You’re never quite sure where the next Bobby Julich is going to come from.”

Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO

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