Cyclists test out new downvalley trail |

Cyclists test out new downvalley trail

Pete Fowler
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
The new section of the Rio Grande Trail near Glenwood Springs provides cyclists and runners with a safe alternative to Highway 82. The hope is that the trail between Glenwood Springs and Woody Creek can be finished next year. (Kara K. Pearson/Post Independent)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” In the past, Ci Beasley and Susan Cottle never would have biked down the Roaring Fork Valley to Glenwood Springs.

Cycling along Highway 82 isn’t too appealing for any cyclist. But now, another segment of the Rio Grande Trail is finished and Highway 82 is out of the travel plans.

“It’s our first time. We would never go on 82,” Beasley said. “We’re too chicken.”

Cyclists and others can travel for the first time from Glenwood Springs to Aspen without the uncertainty of cars whizzing by a mere arm’s length away on Highway 82.

Beasley started from Snowmass Village Wednesday morning and met Cottle in Basalt. They were cruising on the smooth new black asphalt of the Rio Grande Trail near 23rd Street in Glenwood Springs, on their way to Riverside Honda in West Glenwood. The two went to pick up Beasley’s car that had been dropped off for brake service.

Their verdict on the trail: awesome.

“It’s been wonderful,” Cottle said. “We would never do it without a bike path.”

“We’re loving it,” Beasley said.

The duo only left the Rio Grande Trail for one segment, traveling County Road 154 between Carbondale and Westbank. The trail connection in that section is not yet complete, but the back road sees far less traffic than Highway 82.

“The road is so untraveled that we felt safe,” Cottle said.

Once the Rio Grande is complete ” maybe by next year ” the entire route will feature a paved trail.

Jason Rash, a Glenwood resident, biked from Glenwood Springs to Carbondale Wednesday, voicing appreciation for the newly paved link upvalley of Glenwood Springs.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “The ride’s great.”

It’s a lot safer for cyclists since they can avoid traveling down Highway 82, he added.

“It just takes that whole factor out of it about worrying about getting hit. Nobody wants to get hit by a vehicle that’s going 75 or 80. (Highway 82) is dangerous even if you’re in a car.”

Glenwood Springs Mayor Bruce Christensen said riding on the segment of Highway 82 south of the Buffalo Valley restaurant could be harrowing.

“There’s a very narrow shoulder for about a mile,” he said. “It’s very unpleasant, traffic’s very fast and the shoulder usually has a lot of junk on it. This is going to make for a much more enjoyable experience for both cyclists and walkers.”

The trail was envisioned to connect to Carbondale by 2010, but that segment might be built as early as next year due to assistance from Garfield County. Once that six-mile segment is finished, the trail will connect Glenwood Springs to Woody Creek. From there, a gravel trail connects to Aspen, completing the long-envisioned trail connection from one end of the valley to the other.

“Once that Carbondale section gets done, that’ll be fantastic,” Rash said. “You won’t have to be on any roads.”

The 5.1-mile segment of trail stretching from near the Thunder River Market at the Colorado Mountain College turnoff to 23rd Street was completed several days ahead of original target date of Sept. 15. Mike Hermes, director of properties and trails for the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority, said previously that RFTA used 6,420 cubic yards of recycled asphalt for a base on the segment of the trail, in addition to new asphalt paving that was laid on top of that. The cost estimate was $1.8 million.

The Rio Grande Trail is part of a larger vision for some – a system of connecting trails that stretches as far as Vail Pass, Grand Junction, Crested Butte and beyond. In the meantime, at least, there’s a route upvalley off Highway 82.

The Rio Grande Trail connects to the River Trail that runs from 23rd Street to Two Rivers Park in the heart of Glenwood Springs.