Tuesday, February 1, 2011

A Winter Ride aka Ecclesiastes 3:1

To everything there is a season (turn!turn!turn!) NOT IN COLORADO!

One of the particular joys about living in Colorado is that the weather is bipolar. This statement seems odd and needs further explanation (read on!)

Growing up and going to school in Iowa/Minnesota/Wisconsin, I got accustomed to the notion that certain activities were sort of off limits during the months of December-March. Such outdoor escapades included rollerblading, swimming (sans polar plunge), sailing, skateboarding, and bicycling. Not the case in CO.

Even excluding a La NiƱa event like we've had this year, every month of the year seems to boast at least one day of temperatures above 55F. This leaves outdoor enthusiasts like myself playing the gambling game of which hobby they'd prefer to do more. Exhibit A is submitted for review:
I was planning on getting up Sat and heading to the Sourdough Trail near Peak-to-Peak and CO 116 to nordic before the hoards that descend upon Brainerd Lakes did. However I have a quadrathlon on the horizon with a decent bicycle component, and hadn't ridden my road bike since moving to Denver. The weather was a sunny 65F with a light wind and clear roads. What to do? Nordic or bike? Stride or glide? I had a yearning to see some foothills and had been meaning to give Denver more of a chance from a road biking perspective, as I've been put off by its drivers, lack of open roads with shoulders/bike lanes while commuting. It also is a measurable distance from any good mountain climbing workout unless you want to drive your bike.

To their credit, the City and County of Denver provides a great website for their Bicycle Program resources in the city, including maps and their awesome Bcycle program. Based on their maps,other reviews, and the trusted Google Maps Bike option, I chose to bike and to do the following route for a two-wheeled excursion to Golden:

Google Maps had originally sent me dog legging up through Lakewood and Wheat Ridge, but fellow cyclists I paced with and chit chatted with on 23rd street recommended to me several shortcuts through parks with paths to avoid traffic. This took me through Sloan Lake and Crown Park. Another side note:Cherry Creek Trail is beautifully constructed. You're away from the noise and traffic and get to follow the rolling sewage er water of the creek as it comes into Confluence Park where the full cityscape of the Mile High city is in view. It's fun to slow your ride down through the park and people watch. 23rd Street is nicely paved and has a wide bike lane. The only issue happens to be that the road around Sloan Lake is a one-way, and I found myself slowly biking on sidewalks/paths to the other road that led me out to 26th street. However, I tried not to be an asshole.

Clear Creek Trail was a bit hard for me to find by Wheat Ridge High School, but I attribute that to being a Denver trail n00b. The trail also has a speed limit and is packed with walkers and cute dogs, which requires endless 'on your lefts' but also endless people watching opportunities.

NOTE: If you wanted to tag on some miles (11 total, 5.5 each way) you could ride Cherry Creek Trail to Confluence Park, take The Platte River Bike Trail North to Commerce City, and then take the Clear Creek Trail to Golden. Then you'd *almost* never ride with cars! For pictures of Clear Creek Trail in winter, check out this great blog of an avid Denver cyclist!

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