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Rob Ullman

Easy Riders

SAT, 6/14

Bob Bennish thinks the first annual Rocky Mountain Recumbent Rally will be relaxing. After all, participants -- riding recumbent bicycles on which the riders are almost lying down -- have to exert less effort than cyclists on upright models.

"It's more efficient and easier," says organizer Bennish, himself a rider and operator of Best of Bents, 7580 Grant Place in Arvada, which sells the recumbents. The event, part of the weekend's Gold Strike Festival in Olde Town Arvada, is designed to lure the converted -- and convert the curious -- to this alternative mode of transport. Orientations will run from 6 to 11 a.m. today at the store, but the rallies will begin two blocks west, in McIlvoy Park. An intermediate, forty-mile hilly ride will depart at 8 a.m., with a less strenuous twenty-miler leaving an hour later. But "strenuous" is relative, Bennish says.

"A lot of riders who gave up the sport due to aches and pains in their joints are finding this is a way to come back," he says.

The bikes don't come cheap: An average model costs around $700. But Bennish -- and devotees who are coming from as far away as Kansas City and Phoenix for the event -- feel the gizmos are worth it. And the learning curve is very short.

"It takes about ten seconds for your mind to adapt," Bennish says. "The bikes are really quite stable."

The rally continues through Sunday; for information, call Bents at 303-463-8775 or log on to -- Ernie Tucker

Plains and Simple
Conservation center throws open its tepees

The eastern half of Colorado was once pure prairie -- short-grass prairie, to be exact, a knee-high expanse of waving grasses and bright wildflowers populated by prairie dogs, pronghorn antelope, hawks, rabbits and coyotes, not to mention such earlier denizens as the noble bison and the American Indian. The landscape looks a little different these days, but there's still one place where you can stand and hear the past whistle in the breeze. The Plains Conservation Center, a living-history park on the edge of Aurora, is unique in that it not only preserves the drought-resistant, tough-as-nails native habitat, but it also offers a look at prairie life as it once existed. Visitors see authentic tepees and pioneer sod houses furnished with antiques, a garden of heirloom vegetables, livestock and, sometimes, costumed interpreters.

Plains is usually open to the public by appointment only, but this summer, thanks to an SCFD grant, you can visit from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays through August 30, for hiking, special programs, craft projects and more. The center is at 21901 East Hampden Avenue in Aurora; admission is $5 (members free). Call 303-693-3621 or log on to -- Susan Froyd


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