On Two Wheels
Colorado is a cyclist’s paradise. Whether you enjoy ticking past the white line on a long stretch of asphalt or muscling your wheels over tree roots on a single-track, there’s world-class riding for you in these mountains. The country’s top cyclists use roads and trails in the Pikes Peak region as their training grounds, but the paths they pedal are not exclusive. Anyone can ride like an Olympian here… but maybe just a touch slower. Riding is a passion for many Coloradoans and a major draw for the tourists and new residents who gravitate to the sunny state. That’s why governor John Hickenlooper pledged in 2015 to spend more than $100 million on bicycle infrastructure and to make Colorado the Nation’s best state for cycling. “Biking can be such a positive force,” Hickenlooper said at the Interbike Conference in Las Vegas in 2015. “I think being the best biking state is going to fuel economic growth and tourism. It’s going to lead us toward a cleaner environment and it’s going to help us be the healthiest state in America.”
Since then, hundreds of miles of new bike trails have been cut and hundreds more miles of new bike lanes have been painted onto roadways. Read below to find some of the best new rides and some of the classic favorites that keep cyclists smiling year after year.
One of the best ways to explore Colorado roads is in a nice, safe group ride. The route is predetermined and almost always presents a challenge for riders. Support and gear (SAG) is available to help in the case of injury, bike damage,
or fatigue. There are usually yummy snacks along the route, tons of encouragement, and some protection from the usual dangers, such as traffic. Some of the most iconic organized rides include:
BUENA VISTA BIKE FEST
This beautiful century ride over mountain passes and along the shores of mountain lakes is a one of a kind road bike journey.
RIDE THE ROCKIES
JUNE 10 – JUNE 17
This grueling ride is the road bike adventure. Riding 60 to 100 miles a day over mountain passes and through quaint western towns, cyclists see the best of the state from the saddles of their bicycles.
This massive 120-mile road bike ride climbs 10,000 feet from the Front Range into the mountains. Organizers shut down the passes to car traffic for a safe and fun experience on two wheels.
This is a stunningly beautiful ride through one of the less traveled areas of the state. From La Veta, climb Cucharas Pass to Segundo, then return and enjoy snacks and meals prepared by the locals.
BIKES AND BREWS
Enjoy beautiful scenery, including a ride across the Royal Gorge Bridge, in this Cañon City trip that concludes with local brews and vino.
TOUR OF THE MOON
This high mountain desert ride through Colorado National Monument passes striking scenery that has been featured in iconic cycling movies. Riders have options ranging from a fun ride to a full century.
HOW TO FIND THE BEST MOUNTAIN BIKING
Organized rides are great for road cyclists. There’s safety in numbers on the road, but mountain bikers enjoy having their narrow wooded trails to themselves. While that serenity is divine, it also requires a little more effort to ferret out the best rides.
“The best advice I can offer is to walk into any local bike shop,” said Austin Bickford, an avid cyclist from Colorado Springs who travels around the state enjoying the best trails Colorado has to offer. “Talk with the people who work there. Tell them what you’re looking for and see if they’re willing to point you in the right direction. They are usually great.” Talking with those local experts is how Bickford finds his rides when he goes somewhere new, which is something he does often. He also uses some good trail apps to get recommendations. He suggests Trailforks and Pinkbike for mountain bikers. “They have user-generated content,” Bickford said. “People do rides and then post them and describe them.” The apps are a great starting point for finding an adventure, but
Bickford says there’s no substitute for the local expertise you’ll find in bike shops. The people who work there are usually passionate about cycling and know where to go.
In Colorado Springs, cyclists can head to the Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort near Garden of the Gods for tips and recommendations or can check out Pikes Peak Bike Tours (BikePikesPeak.com) for guided trail and road options on the famous mountain. Colorado Springs bartender Leah Montgomery is a Fat Bike World Champion who knows her local trails. These are a few of her recommendations:
RED ROCKS OPEN SPACE, COLORADO SPRINGS
This is a great ride for beginner and intermediate riders. It’s scenic and challenging, but you’re not likely to get lost as almost all paths down head back to the parking area. There aren’t a lot of big hairy obstacles and the trails are well defined.
CAPTAIN JACKS COLORADO SPRINGS
This Cheyenne Canyon trail is perfect for intermediate riders. Riders can choose shorter rides or can make a day of exploring the rocky, winding ascents and descents overlooking the city.
PIPELINE TRAIL COLORADO SPRINGS
This is an advanced ride with rocky and scenic terrain. This could be a mostly downhill journey with a shuttle or an epic day of climbing Gold Camp Road before looping back through the Jones Park trail system through the woods to High Road and Red Rocks Open Space.
SOUTH CANYON TRAILS, CAÑON CITY
This prime example of solid new mountain biking is ideal for beginner and intermediate riders, according to Bickford. This freshly-cut single track opens up a whole new scenic ride to Colorado mountain bikers.
FOR AN ADVENTURE
OIL WELL FLATS, CAÑON CITY
This is an epic 15-mile stretch of single track presenting plenty of technical challenges and awesome scenery. While the climbing is minimal, the obstacles are many. This is a good ride for intermediate and advanced cyclists.
FOR BREATH-TAKING SCENERY
MONARCH CREST TRAIL, SALIDA
With more than 35 miles of single track, this is one of the state’s most popular shuttle rides. Enjoy incredible scenery from winding single track. This ride is great for intermediate riders, and the scenery justifies the challenge for bolder beginners as well. Even advanced riders won’t get bored here—it’s just too beautiful.
FINDING YOUR RIDE
There are many ways to find good rides, according to Buffalo Lodge Bicycle Resort owner Torrie Giffin. She suggests Strava, Map My Ride, and Ride with GPS for good user-generated recommendations. You can also ride with the
Colorado Springs Cycling Club, which takes off from Buffalo Lodge on guided group rides Tuesday and Saturday mornings. The first ride is free, and locals can join the club for $21 a year.
The Midland Trail will soon be complete with a seamless route from Manitou Springs to downtown Colorado Springs. The Ring the Peak Trail is going to be completed within the next few years, giving cyclists access to a 63-mile ride around the base of Pikes Peak.
“There’s so much to do here, so many great rides,” Giffin said. “Biking is such a great way to see the area.”
The Pikes Peak region is still relatively undiscovered by cyclists. The trails and roads are often deserted and continually amaze visitors from biking capitals like Boulder and Portland. Even if you’re passed on climbs by speedy folks, don’t feel less worthy—they’re probably Olympic riders!