In the dark days of the year, when the days are short and there’s not enough light to ride before or after work, I frequently ride at mid-day, over lunch for an hour or so. The rides are not very complicated. They take about an hour to complete. And they are geographically diverse so that I don’t get that stuck in a rut feeling where I’m always going to Washington Park or out to the Cherry Creek Reservoir and back, like some mindless lemming with no itch for new places and sights. These are also useful as easy recovery rides. These short loops include the Stock Show Loop, which takes you mostly north and slightly east of downtown, the Bryant Street Loop, which takes you south and west and the Eisenhower Park Loop (south and east). Bible Park, above, takes you east and south.
Most of what you need to know is on the maps themselves. But a few words are probably helpful. Bible Park has a great short, steep hill on Forest St from Leetsdale to Alameda Ave. You can always shorten the loop by returning from Cook Park on the Cherry Creek Trail. Bible Park upgraded the trail around the outside of the park to cement in 2012. It’s great, but will encourage you to perhaps ride faster than some pedestrians would like. With the new sidewalks in Cheesman Park suddenly off limits to cyclists, it probably makes sense to save our time trial intervals for somewhere else.
I’ve long wanted to go hang out in Grand Junction for a long weekend and explore some of the road routes out there. I know the area slightly from passing through it in my kayaking days. And I know it from reading Michael Seeberg’s Road Biking Colorado (updated in 2012) and Kurt Magsamen’s Cycling Colorado’s Mountain Passes. I’ve even talked up the rides with friends, in that “Sh*t cyclists say” way when you’re out on a ride and thinking about other places you want to check out. Long on my list have been the Grand Mesa climb above, the loop through the Colorado National Monument, and the long ride from Whitewater to Gateway. The Grand Valley is fabulous in the Spring and the Fall, especially as the leaves change and the fruit crops come in. And since I am a huge fan of craft apple cider (the slightly alcoholic version), I’m planning a trip this year to check it all out. This winter I got in touch with John Hodge, a cyclist and cartographer in Grand Junction, after discovering his Grand Junction Cycling Maps website. We traded emails and he’s graciously allowed me to post a few of the rides in the area here at ColoradoBikeMaps.com. You will find a host of information about road biking in Grand Junction, along the Colorado River, Fruita, Palisades, and Moab. Here’s an overview of some of the Grand Junction cycling options.
I like the layout of the maps and may incorporate some of John’s ideas into future maps of my own. They are graphically interesting, have just enough text to satisfy a cyclist’s basic needs, get you to the start of the ride, and incorporate important tidbits like the availability of water and the requirement of head- and taillights in tunnels (Colorado National Monument) and before and after dark (Arches National Park). Visit the site, check it all out, and let John know you’re glad for his time, energy, and enthusiasm for cycling and maps. Follow him on Facebook. And if you’re wondering where I’m headed first with the usual suspects posse, here are the links below.
If you’ve never ridden in any kind of bicycle race before, a low key time trial is a great way to start. You don’t have to worry about equipment. You don’t have to worry about riding in a pack of rabid cyclists. Even though there are cyclists starting ahead and behind you at 20 second intervals, you’re not racing against them, only against yourself, as you tell your legs, in best Jens Voigt fashion, “You shut up legs, you stop complaining and do what I tell you.” The Bicycling Racing Association of Colorado sanctions two large TT series in the metro area, one in the Spring at Cherry Creek Reservoir, the other in the Fall at Bear Creek Lake Park. Both are open to all comers on (almost) any kind of bike, but Bear Creek is a better place to start. There are only four races (Cherry Creek has seven), the competition is low-key (cyclo-cross season sucks away a lot of super-fast racers), the signup process is less uncertain, and by September you’ve probably been riding long enough to find a form that will allow you to go all out for 15-30 minutes without bursting a gut. Racers are categorized by skill, age, gender, (sometimes all three) and there are two retro categories (fast and faster) for what are essentially citizen racers. Retro just means you’ll be using a regular road bike without any special accoutrements: no deep wheels, no skinsuit, no aero bars. Just your and your bike and a stopwatch. You can read more details about this year’s race here.
The seven mile course is entirely on Park roads and is open to traffic, so the center line is enforced and you have to pay attention to errant motorists gawking at the scenery. The new course is a good one. It eliminates a couple of sharp U-turns, keeps the signature sweeping turns through the park, and adds a fine climb up to the top of Mount Carbon dam. Access the park by car from C-470 and Morrison Rd.
The 2011 Bear Creek Course is shown below for comparison and historical purposes.