GLENWOOD SPRINGS (AP) – Will Inverso knows how to put a bike to use.
When the 29-year-old isn’t winning a solo single-speed bike race or playing bike polo with valley cycling collective Stomparillaz, he’s giving Mother Nature a helping hand by recycling via bicycle.
“I spend a lot of time at the recycling center,” Inverso said at a recent summer music concert at Two Rivers Park. “There is a lot of recycling to do, and it just seems like a good idea.”
The mission – to pick up Glenwood residents’ recycling using a bike and trailer that can carry up to six plastic bins, with bags stacked on top – was spearheaded three years ago.
Gear Exchange owner Darin Binion decided to make recycling easy on environmentally conscious neighbors by charging $10 per pickup at their doorstep.
“I would see that big, gnarly recycling truck pick up recycling, and I thought, ‘Shoot, I could do that on my bike,’” said Binion, three-time solo winner of the 18 Hours of Fruita mountain bike race. “I’m such a bike nerd, I just wanted to see how much stuff I could carry. So I did some Web surfing to search for trailers. I wanted to buy the biggest one.”
Binion found the website for Bikes at Work, an Ames, Iowa, company that produces heavy-duty bike cargo trailers perfect for what Binion envisioned for his recycling project. He said the company helped a similar initiative get started at the University of Iowa.
“It’s so versatile, to be able to use for the recycling but also if we’re doing a short camping trip,” Binion said. “I literally put everyone’s stuff on the trailer and go.”
Binion’s bike-powered recycling idea has expanded to the Glenwood Springs Summer of Music series this summer.
Inverso, a bike mechanic with Gear Exchange, with the help of Eric Koch, loaded up all the cans and bottles each evening and strapped the cargo down with reused bike tubes. For Koch, every week added up for recycling items that normally would be headed for the landfill.
“It’s the little things over the course of six weeks that lead to bigger things,” he said.
Always happy to be on a bike, Inverso didn’t mind volunteering his time to help the music series recycle.
“It’s good for the Earth, and it’s good for Mother Nature,” he said. “And it’s all by human power. It’s amazing what we can do.”
Inverso said the trailer not only has helped with Glenwood’s recycling effort, but he’s also been able to move from his house by bike.
“It was so cool to know I could literally move myself with that thing,” he said. “We usually can only carry what we think we can carry, but there’s always more we can do.”
A Glenwood native born at Valley View Hospital, Inverso has had a lifelong passion for cycling. The affection started early as his dad, Bill, influenced him to get on a bike and ride.
“My dad was a weekend warrior on the bike,” he said. “He really got me into it.”
Inverso said his dad also wasan early inspiration in respecting the Earth and doing the right thing when out in nature.
“Dad would definitely stop and pick up any trash left behind,” he said. “I feel guilty if I see trash or I accidentally kick it. Then it becomes mine, and it’s my responsibility.”
Along with recycling, Inverso and Binion are on a mission to promote sustainability through bike commuting. Binion, who makes the trek from Carbondale to Gear Exchange in Glenwood Springs nearly daily on the Rio Grande Trail, has noticed a shift in people’s biking habits in recent years.
“I have definitely seen a lot of people commuting lately,” he said. “People are more conscious with all the construction going on in Glenwood.”
Binion said he moved to Carbondale just so he could take in that scenic 12-mile morning bike commute into Glenwood Springs.
“I always tell people it’s amazing how much more energized you feel when you bike to work in the morning,” he said. “You don’t even need that cup of coffee in the morning when you ride your bike.”
With Gear Exchange business keeping him busy, Binion mostly has turned the bike-powered recycling project over to Inverso. He said he likely would miss the goodwill of neighbors as he visited them to pick up their recycling each week.
“Every once in awhile, people would give me a PBR when it’s hot,” he said. “That’s always a bonus.”