Bicycle Ambassador Program
Spring break is around the corner, and many families are gearing up to ski in the nearby mountains or bask in the warm sunshine of a faraway ocean beach.
If you, on the other hand, plan to stick around town, don’t think for a minute that you can’t have a great adventure nevertheless.
A perfect way to get out and explore nearby destinations is by bicycle. Spring break may provide the perfect opportunity to pull the bikes out of the garage, pump up the tires and get your family out for a fun day trip.
Great nearby destinations, many of which are reached via multi-use trails, include the Environmental Learning Center at the far east end of the Poudre Trail, the Bellvue-Watson Fish Hatchery at the far west end of the Poudre Trail, the Museum of Discovery downtown and the Cathy Fromme Prairie in southwest Fort Collins.
If the weather is cool, just wear the same items you would for a hike or for skiing, and add a bike helmet for protection.
Parents who have to work over spring break and are looking for an activity for their kids can look no further than the City of Fort Collins Recreation Dept. (fcgov.com/recreator), which is offering a Spring Break B.I.K.E. Camp for 6-year-olds to 10-year-olds. The camp runs March 16-20 at the Northside Aztlan Center and includes biking on the Poudre and Spring Creek trails. (If that camp is full, consider signing your child up for one of several summer B.I.K.E. Camps, starting in June).
B.I.K.E. Camp is not only fun but also teaches children how to be safe cyclists. Led by a Safe Routes to School instructor, the young cyclists learn the rules of the road, cycling etiquette on multi-use trails, why it’s important to wear a properly fitting helmet and how to perform a bike safety check. They also learn how to fix a flat, which may come in handy the next time you’re on a family outing and someone’s tire succumbs to a pesky thorn or shard of glass.
If your children are older — in middle school or high school — consider wandering a bit further afield by bicycling to Laporte, Wellington, Loveland or Windsor. A great day trip is to ride to one of these nearby towns, stop for lunch at a restaurant or park (if you’ve packed a lunch), and then head back home with a satisfyingly full stomach and new stories to share.
Keep in mind that getting to these nearby towns doesn’t necessarily require riding on busy highways. If you head to Wellington, for example, many gravel roads are available with fairly smooth surfaces and little traffic. Within the next few years, we will have even more options for reaching nearby towns by bicycle, with plans in place for completing the Poudre Trail to Windsor (which also continues on to Greeley) and for a new multi-use trail connecting Fossil Creek Trail to a park in north Loveland.
Ride safe, and enjoy your spring-break bicycling adventure.
Nancy Nichols is the Safe Routes to School coordinator for the City of Fort Collins (fcgov.com/saferoutes) as well as a Bicycle Ambassador (BicycleAmbassadorProgram.org) and member of the Bicycle and Pedestrian Education Coalition (bpeclarimer.org).