It’s official: The Manitou Incline, the “holy grail of cardio” and a rite of passage for Coloradans and tourists alike, is closed for repair. The grueling .88-mile climb, which covers more than 2,700 steps and 2,000 feet of vertical elevation gain, closed on August 19. It’s estimated it will take crews about four months to repair erosion, improve safety and extend long-term accessibility. While sixteen weeks is but a blip in the lifetime of a mountain, fitness fanatics may feel otherwise. The good news: our state is rife with other opportunities to get an intense, outdoor sweat sesh that’s uniquely Colorado. Here are three options to get you started. Bonus: they’re all free.
It Burns Joe Fitness
This two-hour cardio class at Red Rocks is not for amateurs. Instructor Joe Hendricks—a former pro BMX biker and insanely fit human, even by Colorado standards—leads the large group workout that’s been described as “murder” and as difficult as Basic Army Training. The workouts vary, but typically include a mix of ab and core strengthening, plyometrics, military exercises, a wide variety of push-ups, yoga and lots (and lots) of running up the amphitheatre’s 4,416 steps. Be sure to prep accordingly—participants are strongly encouraged to bring a gallon (yes, a gallon) of water.
If you go: Sun. 8-10 a.m. through October 29; Sun. 9-11 a.m. from Nov. 5 on; Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 18300 W. Alameda Parkway, Morrison. (303) 523-5859. www.itburnsjoefitness.com. Cost: Free. Check Joe’s Twitter feed and Facebook page before going, as the class schedule occasionally changes.
“Super Flag” Bike Ride
Don’t let the mileage deceive you: this 5.5-mile ride up Boulder’s Flagstaff mountain is an unforgiving beast. Begin at the intersection of Broadway and Baseline and pedal west towards the mountains on Baseline. You’ll pass the historic Chautauqua Dining House on your left shortly before reaching the intersection with Gregory Canyon Road, which kicks off the climb up Flagstaff. Soak in unparalleled views of the Flatirons as you grind up the mountain—switchback after switchback—past the Flagstaff House, an iconic dining spot. Keep your gears low and preserve your mojo as the real work begins once you pass the amphitheater, about 3.5 miles in. From here, the climb averages a 10-plus percent grade before topping out at a set of mailboxes, at around 8,000 feet. Your rewards: 360-degree vistas of Boulder Valley and a thrilling descent.
If you go: Begin at intersection of Broadway and Baseline Road in Boulder. www.bouldercolorado.gov/osmp/flagstaff-trailhead. Cost: Free.
Mile High Stadium Outdoor Gym
This 11-part DIY outdoor circuit located around the perimeter of Sports Authority Field offers a make-it-what-you-will workout designed to improve mobility, strength and endurance. The gym, a product of the Denver Broncos and 24 Hour Fitness, debuted last fall and is open 365 days a year from sun up to sundown. Stations cover all body parts—upper body, core, and legs—through a rotation of body tucks, sit-ups, pull-ups, arm walks, and other exercises of varying difficulty. Here’s a map of the stations, and a video that demos them all.
If you go: Open 365 days, sunrise to sunset, Mile High Stadium. 1701 Bryant St, Denver. www.denverbroncos.com/stadium/outdoorgym. Cost: Free.