Experience subtle delights of Fort Collins bike trails

With my usual polarizing commentary taking a short vacation, I’m inviting all readers to join me on a bike ride along one of Fort Collins’ greatest attractions, our super trail system. So, if you are unable to ride, too busy or bike averse, please accept this vicarious excursion. But can I cover 9 miles of sights in just 550 words? I’d better keep it concise.

July 4, departing from Lory State Park, bound for Old Town. Ripping down CR25G, sun reflecting on red rocks, a classic Foothills scene. I’m off to a good start. Onto CR23 heading north toward teeming Bellvue. I pass memorial of recent horrible alcohol- and speed-related accident, then arrive quickly at happier scene: owner of one of area’s prettiest fields has invested in new irrigation equipment; perhaps a sign that development of this idyllic valley will be held at bay.

Through Bellvue to trout farm near Watson Lake and start of Pleasant Valley Trail. An older couple collects wildflowers alongside road to Rist Canyon. There’s Vern’s, home of cinnamon rolls and taxidermy. Now entering Laporte, a tired town but better to be depressed than Timnath-ed. Young woman being walked by her veritable security system—3 big dogs—returns my smile. I begin my survey of smiles versus frowns worn by passersby.

There’s the woods behind Cache La Poudre Junior High. If those trees could talk, the stories they’d tell about teen rites of passage…

I approach start of Poudre River Trail, where near-naked people launch themselves in inner tubes. They’re excited now, but likely cold and miserable later. People, it’s snowmelt water. I pass over river on magnificent Z-shaped bridge, a recent addition, then marvel at Butterfly Woods Natural Area. It’s a short thrill because the quarry overtakes the scene, accented by mile of ca-chunking gravel conveyor and Sequoia-sized utility poles. But no complaints from me; power pathway cleared way for bike trail. Smooth ride on new concrete; tax dollars well spent. Can same be said of new roundabout? (Oops, must remember: usual commentary is on hiatus.) It’s to my right as I cross pristine asphalt at Taft Hill Road.

Then, on both sides, lakes, accented by Russian olive trees. Swallows dart overhead as path brings me back alongside the Poudre. Bikinis, fly fishing and tubers looking frigid and fatigued. Hey wait! Can that be? Twenty or more eagles perched together on stack of hay bales. Yes, they’re huge and brown with those distinctive wingtips.

Relishing that image as trail bends under Shields Road. How many bike collisions at that blind curve? Roots underneath took toll on this asphalt, as these unintended speed bumps pummel the bike’s frame and my own. Relief comes from gentle winding through serene stand of trees until… eyesore! Dumped tires, rusty oil tanks, ancient cars and pickups, decayed shacks. We live in paradise, so let’s treat it better. Besides, there’s money in that recyclable steel.

Elderly woman on oxygen rolls by in her electric cart. Good for you! She’s followed by young couple corralling 4 kids (go figure that!) as I enter Lee Martinez Park, and there’s one-of-a-kind Old Town visible through the trees.

I tally results of my survey of faces I’ve passed: 80% plus with smiles. That’s a pretty good sign. Pretty good ride, too. I highly recommend it.

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