Tom Ross' column appears Tuesdays and Saturdays in Steamboat Today. Contact him at 970-871-4205 or tross@SteamboatToday.com.
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The last time I shot my mouth off about the sanctity of riding one's bicycle to work in order to save the planet, I got busted.
I strolled into the grocery store on a Saturday afternoon and a longtime acquaintance who works at the grocery called out, "Hey Tom, did you ride your bike today?"
It was May 26, the same day I published a column in which I pontificated: "Bicycle commuting is a trend this community needs to tap into as we head into a busy summer tourism season fraught with an extra heavy dose of construction traffic."
When Jim called me out near the check stand, my face went pale, but just for a moment."
"Heck no! I'm buying three, 20-pound bags of dog food," I lied. I slinked off in the general direction of the pet food aisle.
This time, I promise to do better.
This week, I'm drawing inspiration from the many dedicated cyclists in Steamboat who have made riding their bikes to work a way of life.
Throughout June, City of Steamboat Springs employees have been participating in a contest that makes them eligible for door prizes like water bottles and headlamps. The grand prize is a brown bag lunch with City Council (OK, I made that last part up). It's really an admirable program with swell prizes.
SmartWool employees have a similar program. Last year, 30 employees calculated their combined carbon offset was the equivalent of 52 gallons of gasoline. That's about the amount two dump trucks burn up on a day in June, running back and forth on Lincoln Avenue with loads of dirt. That doesn't mean the gesture being made by SmartWool employees isn't significant.
It figures that Moots bicycles would have an incentive program for employees who ride to work. They earn $1 each commuter day toward bicycle accessories.
You might or might not be surprised to hear that a half-dozen employees of the Bud Werner Memorial Library commute to work on bicycles. It's like the bookworm gene is right next door to the bicycle gene on the double helix or some such.
This week's red badge of bicycle courage goes to library employee Antonio Marxuach (pronounced Marks-wah).
He rode his bike to work Friday even though he had tweaked his back and was in pain.
"It was easier than squeezing into the front seat of my Sentra," he said bravely.
Marxuach rides his bike everywhere in Steamboat in all 12 months of the year.
This summer, he is riding a Trek Cruiser outfitted with a large rack and baskets.
"I put surprisingly large loads on it," Marxuach said. "I can carry a couple of bags of gear with room to strap on rollers, skis, yoga mats and bounding poles (for hiking aggressively uphill.)
In winter he rides a Fat Chance mountain bike with studded tires and racks that allow him to carry up to four pairs of Nordic skis.
"Riding a bike in winter is not for everyone, I know that," Marxuach said. "But I feel that having the opportunity to live the active health life of an athlete is a privilege that comes with some obligation."
June 25 to 29 is Bike-to-Work Week. It's a great opportunity to learn healthy new habits and I'm going to make the most of it. I have to meet a flight at Yampa Valley Regional Airport one day next week. I won't be riding a tandem bike with luggage racks to the airport. However, I will be riding my bike to and from work.
If you see me driving Grateful Red (the Ford pickup) next week, don't get the wrong idea. I'm going to leave a vehicle in the newspaper parking lot during the weekend so I can use it to drive to some of my appointments as I strive to meet my daily deadlines. However, when the six o'clock whistle blows, I'll be riding the bike home on the Yampa River Core Trail. I might even have my aluminum fly rod tube duct-taped to the frame of the bicycle.
How about you?
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