Bicycling Denver #2 & #3

Yesterday was our road ride into Denver, and our chance to reconnoiter the regional bicycling infrastructure. The region is considered very bike-friendly — well, we are going to find out.

The biggest difference from riding back home seems to be that, while everyone is theoretically supposed to ride with traffic on the roads (as at home), there are many roads where this doesn’t seem feasible, and everyone rides on the sidewalks. (This is especially true of the sprawling cities surrounding Denver proper, such as here in Lakewood.) Even the kitted-out Freds on their training rides are on the sidewalk on the busy roads. This isn’t such a big deal, since the sidewalks are wide, and they look almost exactly like — and eventually merge into — the cycleways and bike trails that connect the city. So when in Rome, we rode the sidewalks…

Our trip downtown first took us way south, on the Kipling Street Parkway bike-path-cum-sidewalk, then we took the (paved) Bear Creek Trail to the (paved) South Platte River Trail, which took us to the Starbucks downtown. This was all very beautiful, and until the very end, it was hard to believe we were even in a city.

But now we were in a city, in downtown Denver, so we did some city street riding — which worked well, like bicycling on city streets in just about any bike-friendly city — and stopped for lunch at Milk Market and a beer at Wynkoop Brewing Company. Then came our ride home:

We took the Dry Gulch/Lakewood trail, which went west and eventually followed the light rail RR tracks we rode the other day; the trail then morphed into some residential street riding (with bike lanes) until we were back in the busy part of town, and back on the sidewalk, and then back at the hotel. (We went back to Milk Market for dinner with Emmi and Kyle last night.)

Today we got up and did some mountain biking just outside Golden, at a place called North Table Mountain Park:

This was more of the same beautiful terrain as Green Mountain, but somewhat rockier. There was a lot of climbing, but it all seemed less severe, even with the rocks, than the long slog at Green Mountain — we lucked out and went down the “long slog” here. This was not back-country, we passed by houses, and a development with its own access trail, and could see the roads and towns all around us from the top. Very civilized, and there were many other cyclists and runners out there with us. Our post-ride lunch was in Golden, which is a pretty town. Some photos:

We’re resting and doing laundry right now, starting to pack and get ready to leave. Tonight is our last night out with Emmi & Kyle; it’s been sunny and warm in town, but the wind is picking up and the temperature will crash overnight. Tomorrow the snows come, and we’re out of here.

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