48 miles on a Purple Stallion
This story begins years ago, in the city of Sheridan as a young 19-year-old Joe Cordova wakes up just before 5 am for work. Why so early you ask? Joe wakes up early to begin the first half of his 48-mile daily commute from home to work at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge (RMA). It takes about 3 hours, 2 trains, 2 busses, 2 bike rides and 24 miles each way. Every day, each day, for months on end! This may sound like an unbearable journey for some, but for me, Joe, this was simply a routine, as I had been walking, busing, biking, and doing whatever I must to get to work since I was 14.
So daily I would wake up early, eat a quick bowl of instant oatmeal and rush out the door without a minute to lose. I quickly learned that RTD busses wait for no one! This commute was always difficult but with practice, lessons learned and a trusty 10-speed this young man was up for the challenge. After all, how many people can say they have ridden their bikes through one of the most beautiful open spaces in the state to get to work? (Trick question at the time the RMA was closed to bicyclists, and I was the only one able to ride through as an employee).
However, on one specific morning, I was in for quite a surprise. As I walked out the door of the “stable” A.K.A my mom’s garage I noticed a big problem…. a flat tire. With no spares or pumps in sight, I walked to the corner store to use the air pump. To my dismay the flat was unrepairable. What was I to do? Lie on the ground and contemplate life? Call for help? Miss work? No. I knew I had to do what I signed up for. After all, to be able to work at the RMA as an intern for Groundwork Denver was a dream come true. I was able to operate and maintain tractors, teach students in local schools about bison, feed the ferrets and even participate in wildland firefighting!
So, as I weighed out my options while speed walking home, I knew there was no one to help as my mom was already off to work as well. As I paced through the yard looking for another bike, spare tube, anything, I found my answer. A brand-new single gear shiny purple and green bicycle my little sister had gotten a week earlier. So, there I was, a face full of sweat, legs burning, in boots and thick double layer Carhartt work pants to make everything even more comfortable, riding through Denver on my little sister’s “Purple Stallion”.
Even though my mind was flustered, and my body tired I arrived at the wildlife refuge with a soaked shirt and a smile. Not only did I do what seemed impossible, but I wasn’t late. And to top that off I was laughing at the idea of the people, whose coffee hadn’t even had the chance to kick in yet, seeing this young man in full work gear riding viciously on a tiny purple bicycle. All through the city, on the bus, and through the refuge. All that, just to work a full 8 hours and do it over again! Unfortunately for me, the trusty “Purple Stallion” got a flat on the way home.
Though this story may be a great laugh and, unfortunately for me, very true, I didn’t just write this story for the sake of amusement. I wrote this story to shed light on what it’s like for many youths who work at Groundwork Denver who must get themselves to work every day. Not every family can afford a car, bicycle or even bus passes. Therefore, I am asking for your donations to buy a van for Groundwork Denver so our youth can have safe and reliable transportation to be able to complete more community projects, go on more trips and not have to ride their little sister’s bike to work!
So please if you are able to give, share and spread awareness of our crowdfunding campaign, myself, Groundwork Denver, and little sisters who are missing their bikes would very much appreciate it! 😊
Donate here: https://ioby.org/project/freedom-ride-youth-green-team-van-project