Although there are still boxes left to unpack and tchotchkes to deal with in the house, Angie and I felt that it was really time to start getting out and learning more about our community this week.
Since I am currently working from home, I really haven’t gotten to know many people yet. We have met our lovely, friendly next door neighbors, who have given us some great restaurant tips, and we’re excited that we have lunch plans with a new friend this week. I met Kim when I was working at the library one day when down for a visit before we moved here and she welcomed me and gave me the run-down on the facility.
Earlier this week, we actually went down to Colorado Springs to attend the Ivywild Outdoor Sports Expo, which was presented by Colorado Springs Young Professionals. This was not just a bicycling related-event but had businesses and vendors from that also appeal to hikers, skiers, snowboarders, skateboarders, paddlers, runners, climbers, and more.
While the event was jam packed (as was every other nook and cranny of the fascinating Ivywild School building, not to mention all the parking for blocks around the school), there weren’t as many vendors as we expected. However, to be frank, the spaces dedicated for the event could not have held many more. One high point for us was talking to a woman from the Trails and Open Space Coalition, which is focused on the entire Pikes Peak region. I met some people from the coalition when I was at the Colorado Bike Summit a few weeks ago, and they seem to do a lot of cool programs, including the Starlight Spectacular, which seems to be the Springs’ version of the Moonlight Classic in Denver, except they are now in their 22nd year, as opposed to only 4 for the Denver event (which has sadly been cancelled for 2016). The version in the Springs benefits the Trails and Open Spaces Coalition itself.
We also really enjoyed meeting volunteers from the Urban Singletrack project, with which we were already familiar, along with volunteers from the Lower Arkansas Mountain Bike Association, who are doing great work promoting the increasingly successful Oil Well Flats mountain biking routes. They were great about giving me the skinny on places I could ride even though I’m not really a mountain biker and have medical limitations on how technical a course I can ride.
The highlight of the evening turned out to be meeting Nicole and Mike McHenry, who it seems are among the moving forces behind Lake Pueblo Trails. Since they moved to Colorado from Cleveland, Ohio (via the University of Kentucky) a few years back, they’ve gotten involved with the Southern Colorado Trail Builders, who have dedicated themselves to building and maintaining outstanding biking, running, and hiking trails in Lake Pueblo State Park. We really enjoyed connecting with them and they were very excited to hear about what Angie and I are hoping to do now that we’ve moved to town.
It just so happened that Nicole and Mike were hosting a Trail Builders membership drive event on Sunday. There was a run/ride/hike event at the lake in the morning, but Angie and I felt like it was one too many things to try to get to when we still have so much to do at the house, so we just joined the group for the cookout at Nicole and Mike’s lovely house. The people who participated in the morning’s activity all said they had a great time. Another guy who was out on the trails the same day took and posted this awesome picture.
There were already a few people at the house when we got there and a good 15 or so others arrived while we were there. I’m guessing about 30 people were in attendance in all, and I heard that about 40 people had shown up for the morning’s activities. People were super friendly and almost as importantly, they brought amazing food. There were some delicious salads in addition to excellent grilled meats and veggie burgers and wonderful desserts. I was pretty well sated.
We felt so welcomed by the people we met at the event. Several of the lovely people we met also made offers to help us in our endeavors, which is amazing since they’ve only just met us!
I think this is going to be a good group to get to know and support (we joined and bought T-shirts), especially since they’ve done so much to support the preservation and development of trails in the park and also to bring together the running and biking communities in town. When we were talking about it today, Angie observed that the group seemed to consist of two types of people, people who’ve moved here from somewhere else, and who have fallen in love with the relatively temperate weather and fantastic outdoor options, and people who have always lived here and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else, because of the less-crowded, small town community, the relatively temperate weather, and the fantastic outdoor options. Even beyond what we came here to do, we feel like we’ve landed in a pretty cool place.