Each year, the League of American Bicyclists assesses the bike-friendly nature of cities across the United States, and designate the top ones with awards—platinum for the best, followed by gold, silver and bronze.
Only four reached platinum status in 2013—two in Colorado. Gold status went to 18 more cities, and four of those are in Colorado.
Denver, the state's capital city, has silver status—a testament to its bike-sharing system, lengthy bike paths and more. Coupled with the nearby towns like Fort Collins, Boulder and Breckenridge with their platinum and gold statuses, and you've got a region that cares deeply about its cyclists.
So if you find yourself in the Denver metropolitan area, take your bike. There are paths to explore, mountains to climb and century rides to sign up for.
Here's what you need to know about cycling in Denver:
Places to Ride
Since cyclists seem to love the suffering, head to Deer Creek Canyon southwest of the city and really put yourself through some pain. The area has lots of great hills for climbing. The total route is 38 miles and has long climbs, gradual ascents, steep hills and more.
Beware: you won't be alone, especially on the weekends.
"During a nice weekend, the road at the start will have 100-plus cars parked to ride these hills," said local coach Ryan Turbyfill.
Other places to go:
- The Greenway Trail follows the South Platte River almost 30 miles, connecting a chain of scenic parks.
- The Cherry Creek Bike Path spans 40 miles south all the way to Franktown.
Races to Remember
The Denver Century Ride is a popular event each June. It starts at Northfield Stapleton (site of the old Denver airport) and explores downtown Denver, the Whitter and Highland neighborhoods, and neighboring cities like Lakewood, Golden and Arvada.
The ride climbs the south side of Lookout Mountain, with hairpin turns that mimic the Tour de France. If 100 miles are a little too much, rides of 75, 62 and 25 miles are offered.
Other races include:
- The Golden Gran Fondo in nearby Golden is one of the best gran fondos in the country, with routes of 20, 60 and 90 miles.
- The Red Rocks Century starts near the famed Red Rocks Amphitheater and goes west into the mountains. It has routes of 100, 62 and 50 miles.
Cycling Stores to Check Out
Salvagetti is a beloved bike store in Denver, located at 3800 Irving Street. A knowledgeable, friendly staff greets you at the door, and besides selling bikes and parts, they offer bike fits, tune-ups and general maintenance.
Funny thing about the name: it's simply "salvage" with "-tti" added to the end to make it sound Italian. As they say on their website, "the word literally means bike shop at 3800 Irving Street in Denver, Colorado."
More stores to check out:
- Campus Cycles, 2102 S. Washington Street
- The Bike Depot, 2825 Fairfax Street
One Last Tip
Mountain biking, as one might imagine in a state full of mountains, is huge in Denver and its surrounding areas. We suggest the Dakota Ridge trail, which connects with the Red Rocks Trail to combine for a great day of riding on the front range.
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