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Woody Creek Revisited: A Bikeride Along the Rio Grande (Spokeheads Anonymous: Aspen Chapter, Episode 2)

Jamie Lynn Miller's picture

So let’s recap: I had a new bike chain, a new bike lock and for some unknown reason (that had nothing to do with the fact that I don’t bike, apparently) - I have a bike helmet. More impressively, I remembered where it was.

Now, I told myself that if I was a true Spokehead, I’d be heading out on a trail other than the one to Woody Creek, just outside of Aspen; so I knew the coast was clear. I was simply doing something different, on a rest-day from climbing; no need for name calling.

I had a vague recollection of a long-ago bike ride to Woody Creek, involving a margarita – or maybe a margarita and a half – at the Woody Creek Tavern. It had been years, but I remembered some slight inclines interspersed with wide open stretches and enough flat sections to encourage me to keep going.

For my first foray back at 8,000 feet, from the oxygenated depths of Vegas, I decided that a scenic, benign and pay-off at the end kind of trail would be a perfect non-bike rider bike ride.

I don’t have any padded shorts. I just don’t. 'Beware of enterprises that demand new clothes i.e. padded groin protection', didn’t some famous person say? I found some shiny black slightly thicker summer/ boxing-type shorts -hot- and decided they would suffice for the journey.

The ride was more pleasant than I remembered, a bit tamer and easier and peaceful, at 9:45 in the morning. I was actually focused on the bike ride versus the margaritas at that hour. The Rio Grande Tricklefall splashed the trail off to my right, just a pool of water that lets hot path goers cool off, up to their ankles, before forging ahead in either direction.

The trail opened up a bit and the river rambled on, off to my left. A plane swooped low, just overhead, close enough for me to wonder if the pilot saw me switching gears and avoiding chipmunks, or if my shiny black shorts were causing a glare and interfering with his flight pattern.

The newly revamped Rio Grande Trail sign came into view and I marveled at the fact that while my destination was decidedly down the hill, the bike path somehow managed to keep a steady, hill-less course, straight to Woody Creek.

A woman walking a dog on a retractable leash failed to retract: “On your left”, I said to the dog; he seemed to be paying more attention than his owner.

I followed the hand pointing ‘that a way’ on the sign to the Tavern but parked my bike next to WC3, The Woody Creek Community Center, instead. This was my first glimpse of Woody Creek’s latest cultural outpost. I was transfixed.

The WC3 was a secret garden of delights. The flowers were Eden-like, with huge daisies and hues of purple and yellow and lush flora everywhere.

It was only 10:30 AM and you’ll be glad to know, I wasn’t really craving a margarita.

So I headed indoors and found the most inviting interior: peaceful-looking bookshelves sporting lending items, local authors, new literary nuggets and Hunter S. tomes; an art gallery in the back, with rich oils, and a piano against the wall in case anyone felt so inclined.

There was organic Craven’s coffee and free wireless and pristine restrooms with lotion – and then, there was the menu.

I tend towards Paninis and carbohydrates, but something about the ‘Create your own Salad Bowl’ sounded like a worthy new venture.

I waited in the garden, looking for hummingbirds and other possible fauna; and then, the platter arrived. A big wooden bowl with matching tongs, and five ramekins, four for each of my toppings (I was hungry), one for the dressing. Cloth napkin and ice water.

I’d ordered a cup of spicy gazpacho (I was really hungry) and a side of whole grain bread, which looked suspiciously freshly baked. The whole feast was presented atop a teal blue garden tray; it felt like breakfast (or lunch) in bed, and I felt like queen of the garden.

The WC3 is around 2 years old, and it’s clearly a gathering spot for all sorts of ideas and energies and those seeking an oasis of value in an overpriced world; my aesthetically-pleasing repast, including coffee and fresh butter, came to under $12.
And at a true community center - like the WC3- there’s all sorts of things to find out about. The Ping Pong league is starting, September 1 and, as of coffee-refill time, 14 people were signed up. A Ping Pong league, with rules and a phone list and intricate fliers with graphics; these sorts of endeavors are applauded, at the Woody Creek Community Center.

Serene and blessed-out, I hopped back on my bike and mentally prepared myself for a slight uphill: what gradually goes down must somehow go back up. I had 21 gears, between all settings, so I didn’t give it much thought. What I didn’t give any thought was the possibility of a headwind going back to Aspen. A famous wordsmith once said: “May the sun always be in your face and the wind at your back.” Something like that. I’m quite sure it wasn’t the other way around.

Let’s just say I walked my bike for a stretch. Maybe.5 of a mile here, or.5 of a mile there, according to the well-marked “you’re not there yet! “signs. And just maybe I walked it up Cemetery Lane. But remember, I can do that. Because I am not a Spokehead.

- WC3 is a non-profit gathering place, open 7A-6P. Open to the public, with annual memberships available to keep it as amazing as possible. Free wireless and Ping-Pong League fliers for all your friends. 922-2342,