I couldn’t bring myself to ride on the trainer the other day, and as it was not that windy I had no excuse to not get out and hit the open roads. Since a great deal of my riding is done commuting to and from work I often forget how nice it is to get out on the bike without a bag and just ride. Now for all the difficulties that come with my place out in suburbia, there is a huge advantage for exploring on the bike. Within 3 miles of my house there lies the vast open plains of the Colorado frontrange, with country roads that stretch for miles.
Now when most people think about riding in Colorado, they probably think of climbing over mountain passes, or flying down twisting canyon roads, but it’s a fact of life for me that most of these rides are inaccessible for routine rides. Riding out here in the country offers up spectacular views as well as a great workout. There are no flat roads, everything out here is rolling plain. Unlike a mountain pass that allows you to settle into a steady rhythm as you work your way up, these hills never let you fall into a pattern. They are not quite steep enough to give you the excuse of going slowly, so you need to put in the effort of keeping up a strong pace over the top. When you do make it over, the cruise down to the next climb is never quite long enough to catch your breath.
The reward for your hard work is the escape to a different kind of Colorado. Beyond the hustle of Denver bike routes, outside the segregation of Boulder’s bike lanes and paths, here you ride with the traffic. You will pass a llama farm, offering hay for sale. You will see a rusted gas station sign, a memory of when these roads were the only way to cross the state. You may see another cyclist riding, but then again you may see no one at all.
These are my training roads, the routes that I can easily access from home. From my perspective, the idea of having to drive a car in order to ride a bike is counterintuitive. My friends may be telling stories of their rides up Flagstaff, or through the Boulder foothills. Others are mountain biking on the numerous front range trails. But my home is here, and here is where I will ride.