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Experiencing Colorado from the seat of a bike

By Carin R. Kirkegaard; photos courtesy of the McCarthy family

Brian McCarthy prefers to put on a helmet and grab his bike to get just about anywhere he needs to go.  As a night shift emergency room nurse in Littleton, he never takes his car to work – no matter the hour or the weather. He would be the first to say that slowing down and riding his bike allows for experiences and views just not captured any other way. He shares this passion with his family, and a bike is almost always a part of their adventures together.

Colorado’s Bike to Work Day was postponed this year from May until September, but no matter the month or the destination, neighbor Brian McCarthy chooses his two wheels to get him where he needs to go.

Brian works the night shift as an emergency room nurse at Littleton Adventist Hospital. His route takes him west from Castle Pines through Daniels Park and into Littleton. Equipped with headlights for the dark and winter gear for the cold, he said he always bikes the roughly 12 miles to work.

While Brian has never encountered a bear on his nocturnal travels, he does enjoy the wildlife he has crossed paths with. The one time he was concerned for his safety was when he came upon a small herd of elk gathered by a snow fence. At first the elk were running along beside him, but when they couldn’t go any further, they turned and started running right toward him. Brian said he felt like Simba from “The Lion King” – when the young lion cub was caught in a stampede of wildebeests.

Brian, his wife, Lillie, and their two boys, Roman and Nico, moved to Castle Pines six years ago from Philadelphia where Brian didn’t even own a car. He rode his bike everywhere. It was the draw of the Colorado mountains that brought the family west. Once here, Brian still kept riding; he just turned his road bike in for the wider tires of a mountain bike.

Even with two young boys, McCarthy’s biking lifestyle hasn’t skipped a beat. Now, the boys both ride on their own, but when they were very little, McCarthy would put them in a backpack and bring them along.

Photo of frozen beard

Yes, those are icicles you see completely covering Brian McCarthy’s otherwise “ginger” beard. Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night will stop Brian from riding his bike to work – the U.S. Postal Service has got nothing on him. Santa … perhaps.

McCarthy remembers taking the boys to bike the trails at Buffalo Creek, near Pine. Roman was able to ride his own bike, but Nico was still catching a ride with his dad in the backpack. To help Roman get up the hills, McCarthy rigged up a bungee cord pulley system that connected their bikes together.

Then, Brian would proceed to ride, pulling one boy behind and the other on his back. At the top Brian would unhook the bikes and let Roman coast down the trail.

Heading up to the mountains is the family’s favorite vacation. With a camping trailer and a pick-up, they throw their bikes in the back and get lost in the wilderness. Biking is an excellent form of exercise with plenty of gadgets and apps that track miles and time spent in the saddle. Brian said that isn’t for him. He doesn’t race and was hard pressed to even come up with the amount of miles he logs in a week on his bike. For him, biking is a lifestyle. Although he does have goals. This year he hopes to complete the entire 486 miles of the Colorado Trail.



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