Posted: September 20, 2023
With fall and cooler weather coming soon, many Coloradans are looking forward to getting out on the bike trails. The residents at Holly Creek Life Plan Community in Centennial are no exception. Many of the community’s neighbors are veteran cyclists who hit the trail multiple times a week whenever possible.
Resident Hale Moore started riding a bike “by necessity at 10 years old delivering newspapers.” When he moved to Vail he became part of the area’s mountain biking community, where he rode a lot of single track.
“It requires amazing conditioning and a lot of the trails we rode were in Leadville going up through rocks and ruts and little streams,” Moore said. “One day I remember there was a bull moose in the trail that stopped us dead in our tracks. We ate a power bar and waited till he moved on.”
Holly Creek neighbor Gary Hahn biked through college and has “ridden in all kinds of ways,” including as part of a German cycling club overseas and in Ride the Rockies at least eight times. “There aren’t many tall mountains you can bike in Colorado that I haven’t ridden up and down,” he said.
Resident Gary Vander Ark took up cycling later in life. “I started biking after I retired and have the strong feeling that it is very important to remain physically fit,” Vander Ark said.
Now that they live in Centennial, Vander Ark, Hahn and Moore all enjoy getting out on the local trail systems connected directly with Holly Creek Life Plan Community, including the High Line Canal and Platte River Trail.
Hahn recalls the first time they visited the community before moving in. “Seeing that they were starting a bike path from here that would take you almost anywhere you wanted to go was huge,” he said. “I had decided I want to only ride on bike paths and sidewalks whenever possible, staying away from traffic, so having that is awesome.”
Hahn rides with fellow Holly Creek cyclists whenever he can. “There are 8-10 riders here who ride serious bikes. I’ve gone from here to Chatfield Reservoir, and with [fellow resident and cycling enthusiast] Dave Vitale out to Chatfield and around on the top of the dam and back, which round trip is about 30 miles or more. Tomorrow I’m going to go somewhere with a friend – either on High Line or the Cherry Creek Bike Path.”
A typical morning also finds Vander Ark on the bike path from Holly Creek until it divides into two separate directions. “One direction is to get on the High Line Canal and head north. The other path leads west, and I alternate each day between those two different directions,” he said.
Moore hopes to go biking more in the fall when it’s cooler. “We lived by the High Line Canal for years before we moved to Vail, so we’ve spent a lot of time walking and biking along the canal, and it’s always nice. I bike around now mostly for the conditioning and it’s a lot safer since my chances of a crash are extremely reduced.”
As outdoor enthusiasts, doctors and general health aficionados, the Holly Creek cyclists have seen firsthand the benefits of staying healthy with a sport they love.
Vander Ark, who was formerly a neurosurgeon “substituted biking for jogging [because] biking doesn’t cause joint problems,” adding that he really enjoys “the physical exercise element of it.”
Hahn learned a lot about the benefits of exercise during his days in the Air Force. He encourages other older adults to find a way of exercise that they enjoy for the health benefits, such as “committed walking if not biking… [Exercise] has helped my brain stay more active,” which of course is an important part of healthy aging.
“It’s the fun and challenge of riding,” Hahn said. “It’s an inspirational thing to ride and feel good about it and relax at the same time.”