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"We’re not out to set any records…. We’re not trying to see who gets there first or fastest. We’re trying to do things together."
Lee Chouinard smiles at the camera

The Vi Easy Riders: One of the Many Inviting Sides of Vi at Highlands Ranch

Years after he fell in love with cycling and long after he had logged his first few thousand miles in the saddle, Lee Chouinard discovered a new side to his favorite pastime.

At the time, Lee and his wife, Frances, were living in Florida, where they had retired, and Lee started a bike group.

“When I was biking previously, it was usually me and one other person,” Lee said. “In Florida, we had bigger groups. Having different people to talk to and interact with is something I enjoyed a lot.”

In 2015, the Chouinards moved west to Vi at Highlands Ranch to be closer to their daughter and two teenage granddaughters. Lee brought his love of cycling and his desire to share it with others along with him. The community didn’t have a cycling group when the Chouinards arrived so, with Vi’s encouragement, Lee started one.

The Vi Easy Riders were born.

 

 

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The more riders, the merrier

These days, the resident-led group hits the bike paths every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, for rides averaging 12 to 14 miles on flat trails either adjoining or just a short drive from Vi at Highlands Ranch.

Weather rarely gets in the way. As Lee points out, “We are blessed in Colorado, and Denver especially, with wonderful weather year-round. The weather doesn’t impede us.” 

In fact, except for a one-month pause, not even the pandemic could interrupt the Vi Easy Riders’ regular schedule.

All Vi residents, regardless of experience or ability, are welcome to join, and Lee tries to adjust the rides to accommodate the riders. He also encourages the residents to invite friends or family members to ride along. 

The larger the group, the more engaging it is for everyone, since the actual cycling is only part of what makes the experience special. There are also the relationships that are built and the friendships that are made.

“When we stop for our breaks, for a coffee or whatever — which we do frequently — there’s always interesting conversation, about our lives as they were and our lives as they are now,” Lee said.

When not biking, he’s hiking

Not all of Lee’s travels take place behind handlebars. Twice a month, he leads another group he started, the Vi Easy Hikers, on leisurely five- or six-mile treks. Just as with the cycling group, all Vi residents, regular hikers or not, are welcome to join, as are others they want to include. “Anyone they wish to invite is welcome to join us,” Lee said.

Lee remains an active recruiter for the biking and hiking groups, connecting in person with new residents whenever community-wide welcome events are held or emailing his new Vi neighbors with information.

A big part of Lee’s recruiting pitch to the cyclists is assuring them that no one is trying to simulate the Tour de France; that everyone who takes part is in it for the right reasons.

“We’re not out to set any records,” Lee said. “We’re out to get some fresh air and enjoy some physical activity. We’re not trying to see who gets there first or fastest. We’re trying to do things together.”