Sales for everything from bicycles to roller skates soared during quarantine as Coloradans searched for excuses to escape their homes. We asked local outfitters about the best places in the region to take our new outdoor hobbies to the next level.
The Expert: Jesse Heilmann, owner and manager of Death & Glory Skate Shop, the only retailer in Denver that focuses on quad and in-line skates
The COVID-19 Effect: TikTok videos of roller skaters dancing during quarantine drove some of the 389 percent increase in skate-and-blade sales at Death & Glory between summer 2019 and summer 2020, Heilmann says.
Where to Practice: Glide along the South Platte River Trail’s paved hills near REI’s flagship in LoHi to build comfort with higher speeds and sudden stops.
Where to Let ’Er Rip: Eight-wheelers eager to prove skate parks aren’t just for the Tony Hawk set can show off at the Apex Center in Arvada, where 40,000 square feet of ramps and bowls provide ample space for spins and jumps.
The Expert: Phillip Brown, owner of Elevation Cycles, a bicycle store and repair shop with locations in Denver, Highlands Ranch, and Parker
The COVID-19 Effect: By the end of June 2020, Elevation Cycles had sold as many bikes as it did in all of 2019. Brown says the Trek Marlin, an entry-level mountain biking model, was especially popular.
Where to Practice: Brown likes Lakewood’s Bear Creek Lake Park, where short trails lack enormous inclines and tumble-inducing rocky roadblocks and bumps.
Where to Let ’Er Rip: Check out Staunton State Park (pictured above), where multiple trails can be strung together for longer, more challenging rides. Plan your routes as loops rather than out-and-backs, Brown says: “You won’t run into as much traffic that way.”
The Expert: Mike Harvey, co-founder of stand-up paddleboard designer and manufacturer Badfish SUP in Salida
The COVID-19 Effect: Stand-up paddleboard sales usually peak in July, Harvey says, but in 2020, Badfish had sold about a year’s worth of boards by June 1. “It’s been an easy way for families to get outside together,” he says.
Where to Practice: Motorboats aren’t allowed on Lakewood’s Big Soda Lake (pictured above), meaning you don’t need to worry about a choppy wave knocking your wobbly eight-year-old into the water.
Where to Let ’Er Rip: When tranquil lakes lose their thrill, the Pumphouse Recreation Site on the Colorado River near Kremmling offers challenging Class II rapids. Local outfitters, such as Colorado River Rentals, can set you up with safety gear, like helmets and life jackets, and a guide.
The Expert: Daniel Kohout, founder of Exodus Longboards, which has partnered with (mostly) local artists to design custom boards since 2017
The COVID-19 Effect: Kohout sold more boards during the spring stay-at-home order than he did in all of 2019. “It’s actually the first year we made a profit,” he says.
Where to Practice: Avoid bumps and cracks (and the mortifying falls that follow) on the smooth 2.6-mile path around Sloan’s Lake.
Where to Let ’Er Rip: Download Longboard Spots, a free app with low-traffic areas ideal for bombing, such as the sidewalk along South Albion Way in Greenwood Village. (Check local municipalities’ traffic rules before satiating that need for speed.)