Silverthorne couple guides senior cyclists along local bike trails
DILLON — Last week, Silverthorne couple Alan and Mary Jo Brown introduced cyclists older than 50 to the beauty of Summit County and its seemingly endless bike trails. The two wanted to prioritize safety and make time to “stop to smell the roses” rather than focus on miles.
Senior Cycling, a bike tour company for seniors, began on the east coast of the United States. Founder Pat Blackmon, in her 60s at the time, found that bike tours often catered to younger cyclists, and she thought she could find a better way to get seniors involved. After years of building a community, she passed Senior Cycling on to current owners Mark and Colleen Troy.
The Troys decided to extend their reach west, and they came to Silverthorne to visit the Browns, friends they had met through the cycling nonprofit Adventure Cycling. After visiting the area, the Troys decided Summit County would be a perfect location for a bike tour.
“The mission is to put out these tours and put out an enjoyable and safe environment for people with similar interests,” Alan Brown said.
The tour started in Denver to help people acclimate, as most of the tour members were from out of state. After riding the first day on the Cherry Creek Trail, the group headed up to Summit County to spend the next six days biking around Lake Dillon, along the Tenmile Canyon Recpath, and through Copper Mountain and Breckenridge.
The Browns made a point to share the history of Summit County and offer the riders a true taste of the area by giving them time to explore, taking them to local restaurants, and stopping at waypoints for scenery and talks about history. The tours also focus on teaching local etiquette and bike safety in the mountains.
The low-impact sport is perfect for seniors, the Troys and Browns agreed. The cyclists said the tour was more specific to their age and that other tours they had been on included too many miles, several road routes or overnight camping, which isn’t always appealing to aging individuals.
In Summit County, the Browns planned for lower mileage and free days for hiking and exploring. They also worked to plan routes that would avoid roads as much as possible, and group members were offered route options to appease a variety of ability levels.
For example, on the first day in Summit County, the Browns planned a cycling trip to Keystone and back but gave group members the option to ride one way and take a shuttle back to Dillon, if needed. The group also stayed at a motel in Dillon.
While catering to the age of the group members was a priority from a logistics sense, building community on the tour was the Brown’s ultimate goal.
At a happy hour on the last night of the tour, the group members laughed as they recounted stories of wrong turns, “small hills” and other comical mishaps. By the end of the week, the group seemed to be full of fun characters that worked well together.
“We came mostly as strangers and left as friends,” one tour group member said.
The group also emphasized that while the trip was lower in miles than other tours, odometers still read around 120 miles at the end of the week. Members recalled one difficult day when winds were high, it was raining and the group was attempting to do a 1,000-foot climb.
“Because we persevered, it made us stronger, and I feel like I can ride better now,” cyclist Theresa Sauer said. “It’s been a fantastic journey, and the scenery here is amazing.”
The Browns are planning to host their second round of the Summit County tour next week, welcoming another group of out-of-town seniors to the area.
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