Issue: May 2013
Tags: Super James, Super Flag, Steamboat Springs, road cycling, Rist Canyon Loop, Peak to Peak Highway, Maroon Bells, Lake Dillon Loop, Lake Catamount, Estes Park, Copper Triangle, confluence park, Cheyenne Canyon, Cherry Creek State Park, Carter Lake, bikes
With dry roads and sunny days stretching out ahead of us, we’re joining the frenzy—and helping you do the same—by highlighting some of the best road cycling routes (for beginners and experts alike!) along the Front Range and in Colorado’s famed high country. Clip in and enjoy the ride.
The Ride: Confluence Park to Cherry Creek State Park
Distance: 28.4 miles round-trip
Time: 1.75 to 2.5 hours
Like a bowl of green chile or grabbing a drink at the Cruise Room, this ride is classic Denver. Flat enough for novices, but long enough for more accomplished riders to get a decent workout, the best part of this ride may be the fact that once you clip in, you won’t have to battle any car traffic—zero!—for close to 30 miles.
Meet your riding buddies at Confluence Park; if you want an espresso for a little bit of legal performance enhancement, stop by the Starbucks in REI (the sporting-goods behemoth also boasts a stocked bike department complete with mechanic services). Then take the gentle ramp down to the Cherry Creek Trail. (On weekends during the summer, the trail can be congested, so be courteous and holler “on your left” when passing slower riders.) The path gradually climbs—although it’s almost imperceptible on the pleasantly undulating trail—as you head toward the state park. There’s a very short uphill section as you skirt the John F. Kennedy Golf Course and then a nice downhill before the only real climb of the ride. Once you pass under Interstate 225, you’ll climb until you run into South Parker Road. It’s not the stuff of the Pyrenees, but one pitch does hit a quad-killing 10 percent gradient and will most certainly get your attention. Then you’ll ease your way toward the reservoir, with magnificent views of the Front Range and the meadows of the park as your backdrop. Fill up your water bottles at the reservoir’s beach (summer only), then turn around and bomb back to downtown Denver with a nice tailwind helping you along the way. —Geoff Van Dyke
Having done your duty and burned a good number of calories, head to the Denver Beer Co., which is just a few blocks from REI, where you wrapped up your ride. Sure, Gatorade is a good post-ride drink, but we like to think a Graham Cracker Porter—or, really, anything the neighborhood brewery has on tap—is essentially replacing the carbs we lost on our afternoon ride. 1695 Platte St., 303-433-2739, denverbeerco.com
Lookout Mountain (Hard)
One of Denver’s other timeless rides heads in the opposite direction: Start at Confluence Park, work your way through LoHi to 32nd Avenue, and head west to Golden. Pass the Colorado School of Mines; cross busy Highway 6; and then begin the epic Front Range climb up Lookout Mountain. At an average gradient of six percent, it’s not the hardest climb you’ll ever experience, but there are no false flats on this uphill (until the very end at least), so there’s nowhere to hide. Be conservative on the descent, as there can be a decent amount of traffic on the road and gravel sometimes litters the turns.
From tasty snacks to comfy saddles, treat yourself to these cycling must-haves. By Kelsey Lindsey & Morgan Tilton
The ELITE Barrier Vest from Pearl Izumi, $80
Why We Want It: Colorado’s erratic weather can leave cyclists sweating one minute and facing a brisk wind chill the next. Waterproof panels and the vented back on this vest keep you prepared for Mother Nature’s mood swings. Bonus: The lightweight fabric allows you to scrunch up the vest and stow it
in a pocket.
Where To Get It: pearlizumi.com
Organic Stinger Waffles from Honey Stinger, $1.39 each
Why We Want It: Whether you’re cycling up Colorado’s high mountain passes, pedaling on one of the state’s famous bike paths, or furiously spinning along high prairie farm roads, you’ll find fast energy (and deliciousness) when you bite into this soft and chewy miniwaffle that’s layered with just-sweet-enough organic honey. Also: Try the chocolate, lemon, strawberry, or vanilla flavors.
Where To Get It: honeystinger.com
The PhD Cycle Ultra Light Mini sock from SmartWool, $15.95
Why We Want It: Cyclists need aerodynamic, nonchafing garments—fitted jerseys, padded bibs—and these virtually seamless socks have your feet covered, keeping the sweat (and the toe wedgie) far away.
Where To Get It: smartwool.com
The Edge 810 bike computer from Garmin, $699.99
Why We Want It: Any device that allows cyclists to shamelessly post every aspect—from speed and heart rate to power output and total feet climbed—of their recent rides on social media is a winner in our book. Some may call it oversharing—we call it spreading the love.
Where To Get It: Pedal Pushers Cyclery, pedalpusherscyclery.com
The Antares Versus saddle from Fi’zi:k, starting at $140
Why We Want It: When potholes, choppy asphalt, and cattle guards (hey, this is Colorado) threaten to assault your backside, this seat’s strategically placed channel will save your, um, sensitive parts and keep you powering your pedals forward.
Where To Get It: Wheat Ridge Cyclery, ridewrc.com
A custom bike from Moots, prices vary
Why We Want It: Three words—custom, titanium, bike. Hand-built right here in Colorado, these cycles are molded based on personal measurements to create a completely custom ride. Excuse us as we wipe the drool off our handlebar tape.
Where To Get It: Vecchio’s Bicicletteria, vecchios.com
The MTB-7 Rescue Tool from Park Tool, $20
Why We Want It: With seven different hex wrenches and two tire levers, this gadget has what we need for an on-the-road repair—plus a bottle opener for that après-ride beer.
Where To Get It: Denver Bicycle, denverbicycleonline.com