Salida: Spunky, artsy town is trail heaven for biking and running year-round

The cows were everywhere, and we were coming up on them fast.

And since we were all heading the same direction — up the dirt road, pushing deeper into a narrow mountain valley outside of Poncha Springs — their cowboys hadn't seen us yet.

We kept pedaling our mountain bikes, but my husband and I exchanged what-do-we do glances as we got closer and closer to the mooing herd.

A man driving a truck, bringing up the rear, spotted us and yelled to pass the herd on the left. We drifted left of the cows, waved to the men and women on horseback and pedaled hard to pull ahead. My heart rate climbed, and as I tried to catch my breath, I looked at treeline on the freshly snow-dusted range ahead of us to try to gauge our altitude. I had no idea. I just knew we were well above our Front Range home (as evidenced by the gasping), and above Salida, where we'd come to ride for the weekend.

We'd chosen Salida in October knowing that we'd probably missed both the fall color and our chance to ride the oft-lauded Monarch Crest trail, a 35-mile route from Monarch Pass to Poncha Springs that people in mountain-biking circles bring up in either hushed or excitable tones: "Have you ridden Monarch Crest? No? Oh, man." (Head shaking.) "You have to ride it." The top of the Crest was snowed in, but we were still banking on Salida's reputation for being a good place in the mountains to ride a bike or hike in the off-season: fall, winter, spring mud season, pretty much any time.

That day, when we passed the herd, we were heading up Marshall Pass Road, a dirt road that narrows into a less-maintained path before meeting the Rainbow Trail, which some cyclists ride as an extension of the Monarch Crest. This stretch is lower in the mountains, in the zone of the aspens, which were still clinging to a handful of fading golden leaves. It was snow-free and even warm by late morning on a sunny, fall day. Our plan was to ride the road to the junction, then take the Rainbow Trail back down to where we started.

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Jimmy Sellars

Jimmy Sellars has been exhibiting his work since 1978. He is a professional artist, designer, gallery director, and consultant for individual artists, art centers, creative professionals and museums. He has worked with the Denver Art Museum's Alliance for Contemporary Art and DAM Contemporaries, The Museum of Outdoor Arts, and a variety of galleries and corporations around the U.S. and Western Europe. His work has been exhibited in over 70 countries on traveling and invitational exhibitions and has been included in a variety of corporate and private collections around the world. He has been featured in several national and international publications including GEEK Magazine and ArtByte Magazine in the U.S., the Het Parool in the Netherlands, the Deccan Chronicle in Hyderabad, India, O Globo in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, the St. Petersburg Times in St. Petersburg, Russia, and The North Shore Times in Sydney, Australia. As of 2011 Sellars has curated over 300 exhibitions internationally including My Gay Valentine in 2006 which received national coverage on NPR (National Public Radio), Changes an exhibition of photography which received Best Photographic Exhibition, and Unstitched, an exhibition of his own work which received Best Political Show of 2005. In 2007 Sellars received the Village Voice's publication Westword Magazine's 3rd MasterMind Award in the Visual Arts in the state of Colorado which carried with it a monetary award of $4000. As an active part of the art community Sellars was chosen by the Denver Public Library to participate as a panelist on the State of Art in their EatArt Conference, worked as a gallerist and artist with DADA (Denver Art Dealers Association) on a variety of projects in the community, volunteered for the Denver Art Museum's AFCA and DAM Contemporaries and was chosen as one of their featured artists in 2007 during their Summer Salon Series. From 1998-2004 he was asked to be a Juror and member of the Board of Directors for the International Digital Art Awards headquartered in Sydney, Australia. In 1993 he opened Sellars Project Space in Denver, Colorado and subsequently in 20010 another location of the award winning space was opened in Santa Fe, New Mexico's Railyard District. In 2014 Sellars moved Sellars Project Space to a sole location in Colorado's largest Historic and Creative District in Salida, Colorado. Sellars also founded several art organizations including The Foundry Arts (1993-1997), The Center for Creative Exploration (1994-1998), Studio 211 (physical location and online 1992-2001) and the ARTBOX Program (2004-present) where donated art materials are gathered into backpacks and donated to police stations, shelters, or in person to children in need. Sellars' work focusses on creating intimate and emotional spaces between inanimate objects that hold already established stereotypes or perceptions. He is currently furthering his work of creating art digitally by using the iPad and other digital input devices and creating more affordable methods of output in order to make art more affordable for the public. He works with the organization Think 360 Arts where he teaches technology based art forms to children in both pubic and private schools.