It is supposed to be fun! Or that, at least, is what keeps me on a bike. The joy and the community we build around two wheels, the Durango trails and mountains, are why I call this place home. My career as a professional cyclist allows me to experience the mountains in a new way, every time, including the sufferfest to those glorious moments. A way that could be in jeopardy.
It was during a bike-packing trip through the Hermosa Creek burn zone and beetle kill near Wolf Creek Pass for our film “Usufruct” that drove home a painful realization. Dillion Osleger, Andy Cochrane, Evan Green and Adam Wells and I set out to tell a story of how a changing climate is impacting the places we live and play – it turns out this future is not so distant. Two years after the 416 Fire, the impacts of the blaze are still imprinted on the landscape, leaving an ominous foreshadowing of the impact future burns could have on our trails in the Southwest.
I learned from our trip that we all can have a role in protecting the places we love from climate change. Coincidentally, the part of the route we took during “Usufruct” runs through District 4 in La Plata Electric Association’s territory. District 4 services much of North County from Highway 160 up to Highway 550 to the Cascade Falls hairpin. Bike-packing allowed us to slow down and be in these places we want to protect. It’s not just the annoyance of downed trees on a trail or wildfire smoke, but about the loss of a cherished landscape and lifestyle for many in southwestern Colorado. We felt the urgency for action, looking across large swaths of pine beetle kill and burn zones.
If you pay a utility bill to LPEA, you are a member of LPEA and have the power to decide who represents our community and will make decisions about clean energy for our area on the LPEA board. Right now, members have the opportunity to help protect our trails, mountains and lifestyles by voting for a board member who wants to generate local renewable energy, and follow through on commitments to provide clean energy to our community.
Voting for a candidate like David Luschen in our upcoming electric association board election will help our community acquire stable, abundant renewable energy. Luschen is a proven energy expert who can help us meet our emission reduction goals while keeping energy costs stable. As someone who regularly bikes over rugged terrain, I truly appreciate someone who is willing to put in that same hard work we need at the local level to reach our LPEA goals and protect the places we love.
It’s not always easy to have fun on hundred-mile bike rides. Sometimes it’s hard work to get on a bike and enjoy the ride when it’s your job. And it will not be easy to transition to renewables. We don’t do it because it’s easy. Like any race, we have trained, tuned our gear and now we are ready at the starting line. LPEA is ready. Grab your ballot and go vote!
Sarah Sturm is a professional cyclist and Protect Our Winters Athlete based in Durango.