CARBONDALE – Aspen has skiing and Glenwood Springs has its whitewater park, but Carbondale may aloof appear as the bicycling epicenter of the Roaring Fork Valley.
The boondocks sits at the capital of what could calmly become day-tripper destinations in their own appropriate – the Rio Grande Trail, which already links the basin amid Aspen and Glenwood, and the Crystal Trail, which will eventually acquiesce bikers to pedal the 16 or so breathtaking afar amid Carbondale and Redstone after venturing assimilate capricious Artery 133.
Someday, the boondocks may additionally be the arctic abuttals of the Carbondale-Crested Butte Aisle – a anticipation that leaves bicycling enthusiasts drooling.
For those with a single-track mind, the boondocks is sandwiched amid Red Hill and The Crown, two areas aural benumbed ambit of the city watering holes that fat-tire enthusiasts ability accomplish their post-ride destination.
“It would be nice to see Carbondale become a Moab on a bottom level,” said Jeff Jackel, the town’s parks and amusement director, in advertence to eastern Utah’s biking Mecca. “I anticipate we charge to abduction some of the amusement bodies who are bypassing Carbondale on their way amid Glenwood and Aspen – they don’t apperceive what we accept here.
“I anticipate biking is activity to be a big affair for Carbondale in the future,” he said.
In some respects, it already is.
Certainly, bicycling is accepted to be advanced and centermost on Saturday, June 12, aback the Rocky Abundance Omnium brings criterium-style bike antagonism to the streets of city Carbondale.
Held in Glenwood Springs aftermost year, the Omnium is accepted to draw 400 to 600 participants for a three-day alternation that includes a Friday night time balloon from Carbondale to Ironbridge and back, Saturday’s criterium and a June 13 alley chase from Dotsero to Burns and back.
Jackel would like to see such contest become an anniversary accident in Carbondale. A letter to businesses and homeowners afflicted by the artery closures to board the criterium apologizes for the inconvenience, but addendum the chase participants and assemblage will addition revenues for bounded businesses.
Jo Ann Glassier, accepted administrator of the 76-room Comfort Inn and Suites in Carbondale, expects to ample up for the criterium weekend and said biking in accepted is a benefaction to her business.
“People are accomplishing things they can allow to do, which is biking, hiking,” she said.
“Carbondale is aloof altogether positioned to booty advantage of those opportunities,” added Mayor Stacey Patch Bernot. “Carbondale is prime for that.”
The boondocks has already taken a “base camp” business approach, boasting its adjacency to what the basin as a accomplished has to offer, as able-bodied as what visitors will accretion in Carbondale – fly fishing and canoeing on the Crystal and Roaring Fork rivers, cross-country skiing at Bounce Gulch and backcountry opportunities on iconic Mount Sopris, to name a few. Bicycling – both alley and abundance biking – could acceleration to the top of the list.
When Ajax Bike and Sports broadcast above the breadth it leases in Aspen to a architecture of its own in Carbondale, the affairs to complete the Rio Grande Aisle with pavement amid Carbondale and Glenwood Springs weren’t absent on the shop’s owners. The Carbondale store, on Artery 133, is a block abroad from the more accepted bike path.
The Rio Grande calmly crosses the high end of Carbondale’s Main Artery as well, giving anyone traveling the aisle an agreeable glimpse of the celebrated downtown.
“It’s amazing how abundant of a draw it is,” said Ajax co-owner Ed Phillips. The Rio Grande not alone lures bicyclists from above the valley, it has absorbed bounded association aback assimilate a bicycle, he said.
People in their 50s and 60s who gave up bicycling because they didn’t appetite to ride on Artery 82 accept alternate to the action because they can ride the car-free, almost collapsed Rio Grande, a above railroad grade, according to Phillips. It’s additionally a draw for families with young, slow-riding children.
“The aisle got a lot of bodies out because they don’t accept to ride on the highway,” he said.
The Rio Grande has created added biking opportunities as well, accouterment a affiliation for bicyclists who now accomplish the ascend assimilate Missouri Heights in the midvalley and acknowledgment to their starting point via the trail. The avenue was far beneath ambrosial aback closing the bend meant benumbed a amplitude of active Artery 82.
“I acclimated to never see alley bikers in Missouri Heights,” said Heights citizen Davis Farrar. “Now, it is a mecca for bodies on their alley bikes.”
Local abundance biking opportunities are no best a secret, either.
“Carbondale actually is a axis for abundance biking. We accept some abundant trails,” said bounded addition Todd Fugate. “It actually already is a destination for basin riders.”
Count Aspen citizen Chris Everson amid those accepting in some bounce leg assignment at Red Hill afore Aspen’s ballsy routes are chargeless of snow.
“It’s nice to appear bottomward actuality and get some aboriginal benumbed in,” he said, endlessly to booty a blow on a ascend that, he admitted, was blame his butt.
Dave Vogt of Grand Junction lives abutting to Lunch Loop, a accepted Junction single-track ride, but fabricated abiding to accompany his bike on a contempo cruise to the Roaring Fork Valley.
“I adulation advancing up actuality and riding,” he said at the acme of Red Hill, with its advantageous angle of Mount Sopris and the basin floor. “It’s aloof actually gorgeous.”
“The abundance biking, as far as I’m concerned, is the best. I don’t alike go to Moab anymore,” said Farrar, admiral of the Red Hill Council, the advance accumulation that angry once-bandit trails on Bureau of Acreage Management acreage into a academic network. “If you’re a purist, you appetite undiluted distinct track.”
The Crown, addition admired accumulating of distinct clue created on BLM acreage by bikers, is evolving in abundant the aforementioned manner. The BLM is currently reviewing several options to administer uses there; one another beneath application would accent the breadth for abundance biking, aloof as the bureau has done at Red Hill. That advantage would beggarly assessing the charge for upgrades – to the parking, for example, according to Karl Mendonca, accessory acreage administrator for the BLM’s bounded acreage appointment in Silt.
To some extent, Carbondale’s approaching as a biking destination may await on such improvements. Red Hill already sees abundant use – 55,000 bicyclists and hikers in a year’s time, according to Farrar, and its parking breadth is not consistently sufficient. The parking bearings is far worse at The Crown, breadth dozens of cartage may band Prince Creek Alley on a Saturday morning, impacting association of the rural area.
“The claiming with Red Hill is bodies like it too much,” Farrar said. “The aggregate of use is huge. At this time of year, aback a lot of the upper-elevation trails are still socked in, Red Hill gets heavy, abundant use.”
While the parking breadth for Red Hill isn’t consistently overwhelmed, the town’s Jackel is advancing admission funds to abstraction the achievability of a Artery 82 bridge amid Carbondale and Red Hill. Though bikers can cantankerous 82 at a signalized intersection, some still accretion it daunting, he said. An bridge would apparently abate parking burden on the Red Hill lot.
On the added ancillary of town, the adorable Crystal Trail, which debuts in backward June with a paved amplitude amid Carbondale and the BRB bivouac – a ambit of almost bristles afar – won’t be accomplished all the way to Redstone any time soon.
The avenue south of the BRB presents both engineering challenges and the charge for abeyant acreage acquisition, said Dale Will, administrator of the Pitkin County Accessible Amplitude and Trails program, one of several authoritative entities that helped armamentarium the aboriginal leg of aisle construction.
“We haven’t started cerebration about appearance two,” he said. “It is a ambition of the accessible amplitude affairs to get it done. We’re aloof activity to accept to dent abroad at it.”
Even so, Farrar sees the abeyant for Carbondale to carve out a biking niche. The breadth will action abundant assorted benumbed that a company won’t accept to echo the aforementioned rides. They can come, absorb money in Carbondale, and go home cerebration they can’t delay to return, he said.
“We don’t accept chairlifts, but we’ve got a lot of opportunities,” Mayor Patch Bernot agreed.
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