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For a band of queer cyclists in southwest Colorado, biking is a “form of liberation”

For a band of queer cyclists in southwest Colorado, biking is a “form of liberation”

Shelby Cunliffe, Clara Moulton and Kit Jones (l. to r.) ride down Montezuma Avenue in Cortez, Colo. during a Queer Byke Brigade event. (Corey Robinson,…

Thursday, Nov 23

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Shelby Cunliffe, Clara Moulton and Kit Jones (l. to r.) ride down Montezuma Avenue in Cortez, Colo. during a Queer Byke Brigade event. (Corey Robinson, Special to The Colorado Trust) When she was 25 years old, restaurant worker Shelby Cunliffe biked with a friend from Guatemala to Illinois. For Cunliffe, riding a bicycle is a “form of liberation.”

For Kit Jones, who evaluates local policies and systems change initiatives across the state for the University of Colorado, bicycling is “a super therapeutic process… (it) helps to kind of, like, reset your nervous system.”

And for Clara Moulton, a field specialist for The Wilderness Society, riding a bicycle “is just a simple way of existing.”

Cunliffe, Jones and Moulton belong to the Queer Byke Brigade, a group in southwest Colorado aiming to provide inclusive outdoor activities for members of the LGBTQ+ community. Beginning in spring of 2023, the group has organized a dozen rides. Locations have ranged from the downtown streets of Cortez, Dolores and Mancos to the mountain biking mecca known as Phil’s World to the recently opened Aqueduct Trails west of Mancos. Participant numbers have ranged from three to 20 riders.

“There are queer spaces here, but they tend to be, from my purview, drinking-forward. It’s not advertised, but alcohol is the subtext, if you will,” says Moulton. “And that’s not to knock those spaces… but it’s kind of novel to have a queer space that doesn’t have anything to do with alcohol. Biking is a body movement thing that liberates you.” […]

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