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Durango Herald reporter Jim Haug passes through the baggage-claim area at the Durango-La Plata County Airport with his bicycle after a flight from Dallas. The airport will store bicycles for passengers who want to lower their carbon footprint getting to and from the facility. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Durango Herald reporter Jim Haug passes through the baggage-claim area at the Durango-La Plata County Airport with his bicycle after a flight from Dallas. The airport will store bicycles for passengers who want to lower their carbon footprint getting to and from the facility.

So I could make it home from the Durango-La Plata County Airport, I pumped up my bicycle tires before leaving my house on Florida Road near River Church in Durango.

I was not going to pedal the 16 miles out to the airport – that would be too much deadline pressure to catch my flight to Dallas. But the thought of pedaling home appealed as an economical alternative to paying $6 per day for parking. I especially dislike shelling out money for parking after an indulgent get-away weekend.

Because I returned to Durango on sunny Sunday afternoon, cycling home turned out to be a pleasant ride in the countryside, except for a strenuous uphill climb after crossing the Florida River and a bit of riding on the highway shoulder from Elmore’s Corner to Home Depot, where I could cross over U.S. Highway 550/160 to the Animas River Trail.

For an airport experience, traveling was never so much fun.

The airport will store a bicycle if arrangements are made ahead of time, said Ron Dent, the airport director who also is an avid cyclist and competes in triathlons.

Dent was generous enough to lock my bicycle in his office, but the airport also has stored travelers’ bicycles in its boiler room.

The airport encourages alternative transportation because parking has become so scarce with the upsurge in travel. There’s usually at least a couple of people who do it every year, officials said.

My friend and corporate sponsor, Rich Stewart, owner of Wings Metal Fabrication, gave me and my bicycle a ride to the airport in his Westfalia van last Friday.

Knowing I had to get home by bicycle did affect my weekend trip a little bit.

I found lots of bargains at an outlet mall in Grapevine, Texas, but knew I could not go too crazy because I would have to carry everything back by bicycle.

Still, the three pairs of heavily discounted pants that I purchased, as well as an undisclosed Christmas gift and a Sunday New York Times, still fit snuggly into my pannier bicycle bags.

My backpack was my only luggage.

On a positive note, I also indulged in a second margarita on the flight back to Durango because I knew I would not have to drive home. American Airlines gave free drinks in compensation for leaving Dallas about 40 minutes late when the regular pilot did not show up.

My biggest fear about cycling home was getting caught in a snowstorm, but I was confident in the effect of global warming, too. My December bicycle ride was the equivalent of ships crossing the melted ice cap of the North Pole.

While I took my time and stopped for some grocery shopping, I still was home by 4 p.m. after arriving at the airport about 1:30 p.m.

Making the trek is not so unusual considering that airport officials know of employees at the nearby BP operations center who also regularly commute by bicycle from Durango.

Mirian Gillow, the town planner of Ignacio, pedals the 26 miles to work from her home in the north end of Durango, although she has stopped for the season because it has become too dark to ride in the early morning or after work.

Gillow said she misses the cycling because it pumps her up for her work day and saves her the expense of paying for gas or a gym membership.

She said she wishes more Durangoans thought of bicycling for utilitarian purposes rather than just recreation.

In her former city of Portland, Ore., the airport has set aside a shelter for bicycles to accommodate the many airline passengers who pedal to their flights, Gillow said.

jhaug@durangoherald.com

Durango Herald reporter Jim Haug climbs a hill on Colorado Highway 172 while riding home from the airport. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald

Durango Herald reporter Jim Haug climbs a hill on Colorado Highway 172 while riding home from the airport.

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald\
Durango Herald reporter Jim Haug turns onto Colorado Highway 172 from Airport Road while cycling to Durango from the Durango-La Plata County Airport. Enlarge photo

SHAUN STANLEY/Durango Herald\ Durango Herald reporter Jim Haug turns onto Colorado Highway 172 from Airport Road while cycling to Durango from the Durango-La Plata County Airport.

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