Hill Junky Circuit
This is one of my favorite west side rides. The multiple hills keep it interesting. The traffic is generally light and friendly, and the sights and sounds entertaining. Multiple laps of the core rectangle are possible and you can stretch the ride out with excursions out to Garrison St in Lakewood. Stops signs, none of which come at really bad times in the climbs/descents, are the only real buzz killer, but weekend traffic is light enough that foot-on-the-ground stops are rarely necessary. The core of this route runs from the Denver Aquarium to the north and Bow Mar Lake in the south. In between, and along the way, are a multitude of hills. None are very long, a few are quite steep, and the route makes a fine training ride and offers a mid-winter alternative to Lookout Mountain and the standard foothill rides. From both east and west there are two easy approaches, along Dartmouth or 23rd Ave. Many variations and extensions are possible, but I like to start in the north, work south along Irving then jog east to pick up Zuni St at Kentucky Ave. There are significant hills southbound between 13th and 6th Ave, as well as multiple hills along Zuni south of Huston Lake Park to Dartmouth. Don’t miss the short but very steep sections on Bryant St and a few miles later on Berry Ave, both of which jump up into the low to mid teens in slope. Sneak through a bikes/peds opening in the chain link fence at Lowell Blvd and Quincy. A short rolling stretch through the quiet Bow Mar neighborhood allows you to return along Berry and Lowell or exit north to Sheridan and Quincy Ave. Heading north, you’ll encounter another good climb from Hampden to Amherst Ave, along Lowell, Knox Ct, and Julian Way, all of which resolve into Irving St again. Finish the core climbs with short sprints between 2nd Ave and 6th Ave, and then again between 12th and 14th Ave.
Cautions: Between Julian St and Knox Ct, you’ll be on Colfax Ave in the turning lane for 1/2 block. It is a school zone, but it is still Colfax Ave. If you approach from the southeast along Dartmouth, avoid the intersection at Santa Fe Dr by using the bike trail to the south between Inca St and Platte River Dr. The intersection at Lowell Blvd and Hampden Ave can be difficult if no other cars are around to trigger a signals sequence friendly to cyclists. Use the pedestrian button if you need to.
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