This Sunday, the Rico Trails Alliance will hold the first of three summer trail work days from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Volunteers are asked to meet at the Ryman Creek/Salt Creek Trailhead, about 5 miles south of Rico. Training and tools will be provided.

RTA Board Facilitator Nicole Pieterse said that the work day will involve post-winter clearing of debris, cleaning and repairs. She explained that while the upper reaches of the trails network around Rico remain snowbound, lower down the trails are wet but otherwise intact after this winter and spring’s extraordinary precipitation.

“RTA representatives have hiked up the Salt Creek Trail from the bottom and enough snow has melted to make work possible,” Pieterse confirmed.

Per US Forest Service requirements volunteers must wear long pants, sturdy hiking or work boots and work gloves, she said, suggesting that they also bring gear for inclement weather, as well as snacks and water. Shorts and open-toed shoes are an absolute no-no.

Pieterse added that RTA has contracted with Southwest Conservation Corps to perform trail work on the adjacent Ryman Trail, which will begin later this month. There will be additional trail work days in August and September.

Also in time for summer trail users and road bikers alike is the Trails Alliance’s brand-new public bike repair station.

The repair station, which became operational in late May, is located on the west side of Rico’s main drag — South Glasgow Street, which doubles as Hwy. 145 — between the Rico Historical Museum and the bright blue building next door that houses Alacran Woodworks. It sports a tire pump with both Presta and Schrader compatibility and a variety of tools, including Phillips and standard screwdrivers, two steel-core tire levers, a headset/pedal wrench, Torx T-25 tools and a hex key set. Bikes can either be hung on the stand from the seat post or backed into the wheel chock while utilizing the tools.

According to the organization’s web site, RTA was able to provide the bike repair station thanks to funding from the Meta Alice Keith Bratten Foundation and part-time local Dee Gullege.

“We’re hoping that when people ride Lizard Head Pass or bring their mountain bikes over to Rico’s trails, they’ll know that they don’t need to bring as many tools or as much equipment,” Pieterse said of the new amenity. “They can work on their bikes in town before they head up to the trails. Road bikers can use this stand as well when they come over from Telluride or up from Dolores. It’s just another service we can provide. It’s nice for people to know that, if they need it, they have it as a resource.”

Pieterse explained that the Trails Alliance is looking not only at supporting local biking and hiking, but also Rico as a whole, including its economic wellbeing. “We are looking at creating more of a sustainable economy through recreation. We already have one. It’s fairly fledging, though, so whenever we can create something that supports it, I think it is a plus for the community.”

Pieterse also pointed out that supporting biking goes hand in hand with other green initiatives in Rico, like the new electric vehicle charging station at the Rico Town Hall.

The new repair station and Sunday’s trail work day kickstart an active summer for RTA.

“We are going to be doing group rides on Tuesday evenings, most Tuesdays during the summer,” Pieterse said. “We also have our annual summer fundraiser with food, music and more, in the park on Saturday, the 17th of August.”

The Trails Alliance has also started a running club. The brainchild of RTA board member Cristal Hibbard, Rico Run Club gatherings will take place throughout the summer on Wednesday evenings. The inaugural run is today (Wednesday).

The runs begin at 6:30 p.m. and are sponsored by club member Brandy Randall’s Enterprise Bar and Grill, which is providing a meeting space and post-run drink specials.

Said Hibbard, “We will meet weekly at the Enterprise and all runs/workouts will be under an hour. Brandy and I both really enjoyed Jill Burchmore’s run club … It was an important piece of our training for Imogene last year. We knew of other Rico folks that wanted to run as part of a group, for the motivation or just to see some good places to run around town. I know for me it is much easier to get out for a run or tough workout if I have other folks there to do it with me. So, instead of driving over to Telluride to run, we decided to be inspired by Jill and start a meet-up here.”

Hibbard added that RTA has “a lot of mountain bike-focused events, but trail running is another great way to enjoy the trails in our area. I hope I can show that off a little during our runs. I’m not a qualified run coach, [like Jill, who] is amazing, but I’m always happy to share what I’ve learned throughout my years of running and training. This is an all-levels-welcome club and I hope we’ll get a range of runners from just starting out to those training seriously.”

Randall echoed Hibbard that the club offers up a nice opportunity to get Rico residents together.

“I feel like Rico is eager to have more clubs, and being a sort of ‘fitness club’ such as running will drive more folks to participate,” she said. “We hope by offering drink specials to participants, it also serves as incentive and adds to the social aspect.”

The Rico Trails Alliance’s first summer 2019 trail work day will take place on Sunday, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Meet at the Ryman Creek/Salt Creek trailhead on the east side of Highway 145. Those with four-wheel-drive vehicles can park at the trailhead, otherwise park near the Montelores Bridge on the west side of the highway, then walk across the highway (carefully) and south to the trailhead. Look for the RTA tent. Further work days will be held on Aug. 25, from Section Point to the top of Circle Trail, and Sept. 29 on the Groundhog Stock Trail. For more information, visit ricotrailsalliance.org.