Meet the Estes Park Cycling Coalition – Estes Park Trail-Gazette
The Estes Park Nonprofit Resource Center supports nonprofits in the city with board trainings, marketing and grant research services, one-on-one consulting, and more. We also bring the nonprofit sector into the homes of our community members through regular spotlights on any of the 100 organizations present or operating in the Estes Valley.
This week we caught up with Kerry Shamblin, longtime member of the Estes Park Cycling Coalition (EPCC) and current co-chair of the board. The Cycling Coalition’s mission is to cultivate a cycling culture by maintaining a membership program, advocating for local accessibility by cycling, and facilitating volunteer and community events.
What is the purpose of the Coalition these days?
The Coalition’s main focus for the past 3-5 years has been the Stanley Park Bike Park. This was directed by Todd Plummer (we should do something to commemorate him – he put his blood, sweat and tears into this project!). There were doubts about the quality of use of the Bike Park, but many are surprised at its success.
How is this success measured?
By its use. And the need to adapt and grow. When the bike park was established, high school mountain bike rules did not allow competitors to take to the air. Halfway through the construction of the park, that changed. Some of the kids have requested a jump race which allows them to practice being off the ground. It’s a project we started, but not finished.
Is the bike park big enough?
We have a great starter kit. It would be nice to have designated areas for different ages and skill levels. For example, an area where little cyclists don’t have to worry about competing for space and speed with older kids or adults.
What is your relationship with the high school mountain bike team?
The mountain bike team has many active parents, great coaches, is well funded and successful. The EPCC has created the Bike Park, which is a good training place to practice certain skills.
What people want. What are they asking you?
We frequently receive requests for group walks from locals and visitors. Visitors look for a group of friends to ride with, as they feel safer in unfamiliar surroundings. If we could get members of our community (or members of the community at large) to help organize these rides, that would be great!
We love the outdoors and are active here, but are we considered a cycling community?
Compared to Boulder, Fort Collins, Loveland…we are broke in terms of access to bike paths. Moraine Avenue is dangerous, for example, for cyclists and pedestrians. There needs to be a way to connect things in Estes Park so people can walk, e-bike or cycle. Our organization has focused a lot on kids lately, but we want to push for connectivity and multi-use trails.
Tell more about this push.
The Estes lake trail is complete and it connects to the Fish Creek trail which is fabulous until it ends at Cheley Camp. In a dream world, this could cross Highway 7, bypass Mary’s Lake, and enter Beaver Meadows.
Why is it dreamy?
If we had a full connected loop it would take you 30 miles around Estes Park. Other cities have them. Why can’t we have that?
I’ll guess the funding?
An 8′-10′ wide paved trail, usually around $1 million per mile to build. Construction estimates for gravel trails are generally in the range of $300,000 per mile. With current inflation trends, these estimates are likely increasing by as much as 25% per year.
And who usually pays for bike lanes?
The Town of Estes Park (Town) and the Estes Valley Recreation and Parks District (EVRPD) have built trails as quickly as funding allows. The Fall River Trail Extension has been an expensive multi-year project that has eaten up all available trail funds over the past few years. The city has been very successful in obtaining grants to offset its out-of-pocket expenses for trail construction, so the actual cash expenditures by the city have only been about 40% of the total cost of the trails.
Isn’t there a trail in the park?
It’s not complete, the Fall River Trail. The first phase was completed a long time ago, running from downtown to Black Hawk Lodge on Fall River Road. The second phase was completed last year, running from Fish Hatchery Road to Aspen Glen Campground. The third phase is supposed to connect them. This connection goes through a very complicated logistical terrestrial space. Right now, people have to jump on Fall River Road between the two completed segments, which some people consider dangerous.
What about the trail that starts at Devil’s Gulch and Dry Gulch?
The Cycling Coalition was working with the EVRPD to start the next section when COVID put a stop to all unnecessary EVRPD spending. The town of Estes Park has completed its portion of Bond Park to the Black Canyon Inn. At the end of Dry Gulch there is a trail to WildfireRd. There are therefore departures on both sides of the loop. We are now in an area overseen by EVRPD and Larimer County. It is not uncommon for the city and county to work together, for example, the Riverwalk and the Estes Lake area overlap and require collaboration.
Who creates (and does there exist?) a master plan for recreational paths?
The Transportation Advisory Board (TAB) promotes vehicleless transportation projects, but their focus is much broader than sidewalks and trails. The EVRPD Trails Committee focuses solely on trails and helps guide expenditures for the EVRPD Trails Fund. I believe working on the Devils Gulch – Dry Gulch loop trail will be the next priority once the Fall River trail is complete.
Do mountain bikers and road cyclists like each other?
Sometimes they are one person. Of course, I would say yes. In this city, mountain bikers are the most marginalized, there are simply not many accessible trails, especially for beginners. The trails are also hard to find and unmaintained. Families come here and want to go mountain biking, but there are no safe trails for kids.
It makes me nervous when there is no shoulder and bikers ride on the side of our windy roads.
Doing it again on Hwy 7 from Lily Lake to Allenspark is awesome. But how do you get from Estes Park to Lily Lake? Getting up there is a death march. I mean, they could drive up and park at Lily Lake and start there, but park along the road…take spaces at Lily Lake? You might be able to go up the Homer Rouse trail, but that’s not a road bike option. Again, there are connectivity issues.
What about electric bikes?
If someone rents an e-bike from the Mountain Shop… where can they go that isn’t on the main road? Right now they can go from Estes Lake to Fish Creek and back again, and that’s it.
What does the Bike Coalition need?
We are looking for new board members. We are looking for leaders, new ideas, energy to move cycling forward in Estes. Someone interested in linking our group’s issues and progress with Town and TAB. Become a member and/or adopt our ducks!
Why would anyone be a member of the Coalition?
Before COVID, we had monthly or bi-monthly meetings. We brought in speakers. For example, Dave Kemp, who is the bike/transportation coordinator for Boulder. Another was Peyton Wilkinson, he was just going to college, but he went to school here and worked at Kind Coffee during his teenage years. He is a mountain bike champion. There are financial benefits like discounts at local businesses, members work together on our projects, like clearing mountain bike trails at Mont Crosier.
What is your organization currently working on?
Planning our biggest community outreach event of the year: June 22 is Bike Estes Day. This happens on Colorado’s official Bike to Work Day. We are looking to continue the tradition of hosting Bike to Work cyclists in the morning at the Welcome Center and then a bike parade and party in the evening. We are looking for non-profit and commercial partners.
Why does this city need your organization?
The focus on funding to expand bicycling opportunities in Estes is important to residents, but also complements the expectations of our customers. We are a dynamic and active mountain town. The bicycle is healthy, an environmental alternative to the car, a social solution to congestion. We stand up for people who ride bikes and the opportunities that come with more bike paths and better, safer connected paths.
To learn more about the Coalition Cycliste, visit bikeestes.org.
Interviews with non-profit organizations in the neighborhood are a great opportunity to meet the active people next door. Kerry Shamblin is a local business owner and outdoor enthusiast. She was co-owner of New Venture Cycling (downhill bike tours) which became Rocky Guides (guided hikes and self-drive tours) with her husband, Brandon Miller.