In the saddle: Enjoy the ride | AspenTimes.com

In the saddle: Enjoy the ride

Stewart OksenhornThe Aspen TimesAspen CO Colorado

There might have been a time when driving Highway 82 gave me a bit of a thrill, but those days passed long ago. After hundreds of trips up and down 82, mostly I see concrete barriers, the advancing sprawl of development and an excess of cars.Which is why I decided that, when I went to a graduation party in Basalt on Sunday, I’d be going by bike. Matters of time, dress, convenience and weather be damned; I wasn’t getting in the car.Best decision I’ve made in a while. Unlike car trips on the highway, I’ve biked just a small handful of times from Aspen to Basalt – few enough that I’d forgotten what a gorgeous, dynamic ride it is. Remove yourself from 82 by just a few hundred yards, and you’ve chosen to enter a different world.With my wife and daughter, I saw things along the Rio Grande Trail that I pretty much stopped bothering to notice through a car window: wide and majestic bends in the Roaring Fork River, chipmunks skittering and birds chattering, irrigation ditches, little foot trails darting in and out, train cars, funky old ranch houses and manicured new ones. The people we saw weren’t just some more #$%@&s clogging up the road; they were fellow bikers conscientiously opting out of their automobiles, saving the planet, politely calling out, “On your left.”The best part of the ride was seeing Woody Creek. Driving 82, you just skirt by it; even driving right through Woody Creek, you don’t get the view that you do from a bike. At Woody Creek, the Rio Grande Trail sits a good distance above the valley floor, and looking down you get a good sense of why it is such an alluring spot. At least this time of year, the green is intense, thick, varied and all-encompassing.Way better, even, than the green of a traffic light.stewart@aspentimes.com