Editor’s note: This article originally appeared in our May 2016 issue. This version was fact-checked and updated (where possible) with current information for the 2017 edition of 5280 Traveler.

When planning your summer biking tour, you don’t have to choose between a well-run (but often impersonal) big outfit and a small, independent guide who embeds you with the natives—then forgets your luggage. These operators provide provincial and professional expertise so you can forget you’re a tourist…as long as you keep that Hawaiian shirt in your pannier.


Conquer some of Colorado’s classic rides with Cognoscenti’s pro-guides. Courtesy of Kevin Scott Batchelor.

Outfitter: Cognoscenti
Month: August
Price: Starts at $3,950

Every morning of this four-day, mileage-junky jaunt begins at the swanky St Julien Hotel & Spa, from which you’ll tackle classic rides such as Flagstaff Mountain. However, Cognoscenti’s guides—including ex-pro cyclists like Nederland’s Timmy Duggan, a national champion, and U23 Criterium national champion Craig Lewis—also promise routes so secret they won’t even allow us to publish them. Off the bike, you can choose to tour the shop of custom-frame-builder Mosaic Cycle and maybe even learn about nutrition from Skratch Labs founder Allen Lim, all at no extra cost.


Outfitter: Western Spirit
Western Spirit Cycling Adventures has 25 years of experience in the Centennial State. Thus, it knows precisely which stretches of, say, the Colorado Trail yield beautiful fields of Indian paintbrush and bucolic waterfalls. Sure, the nightly lodging on the five-day, 100-mile mountain biking trek consists of tents, but with a truck transporting your gear, guides dishing up everything from chilaquiles to veggie lasagna, and camp set up under soaring Hermosa Peak, this style of roughing it isn’t too, well, rough.


Outfitter: Viceroy Snowmass Cycling Experience

Indulge and cycle through Snowmass. Courtesy of Viceroy Snowmass Cycling Experience.

Months:Through September

This three-day offering—launched this past summer—adds a little pampering to the best road rides in the Roaring Fork Valley. During a climb to the Maroon Bells, guide Will Frischkorn will entertain you with stories from his 10-year pro career. Now the proprietor of Boulder’s Cured cheese shop, Frischkorn will cater a picnic lunch at Ashcroft, a ghost town, before you return to the Viceroy for a massage. Other days mean other indulgences, such as a spin down to the Sustainable Settings farm in Carbondale, where Viceroy executive chef Will Nolan will whip up a feast with whatever’s fresh.

Bonus: Now that you know where to go, get the gear to match.