coloradobikemaps

Maps + routes for the Colorado cyclist

Guanella Pass

Guanella Pass runs from I-70 at Georgetown to US 285 just west of Bailey. For the full version of the pass, check out this post. The pass was paved in 2012 (but not quite all the way to US 285), thus adding yet another classic climb to a state that already has an embarrassment of riches in long, steep climbs. Start in Georgetown or better yet start in Idaho Springs. If you start in Idaho Springs , it is 24 miles one way with 4,300 feet of climbing. All but 1,000 feet happen in the 10.5 miles from Georgetown. There are steep sections at the beginning and end that flirt with double digits and a few small breaks as you work your way past a series of artificial reservoirs used to generate electricity through a pump-back process. By the time you reach the top (11,670 feet), you’re above treeline and the views of Mt Evans and Bierstadt are extraordinary. The climb will certainly become one of the classic Colorado climbs, as hard or harder than Squaw Pass from Idaho Springs, Vail Pass (from the west), Lefthand Canyon, and Golden Gate Canyon. As I understand the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club’s formula for difficulty, Guanella Pass rates as the fifth or sixth hardest climb in the state, right up there with Trail Ridge from the east and Molas Pass from the south.

There’s good parking in Idaho Springs at the lot behind Beau Jo’s and also next to the EMS station on Chicago Creek Rd, with free Forest Service bathrooms at the NFS Ranger Station. Don’t actually park in the Forest Service lot–it is for short term information and bathrooms only. The ride up to Georgetown along the frontage road you probably know from shortcuts in the winter when I-70 is backed up. When there’s no traffic, the ride is a sweet one, next to Clear Creek and with little traffic. Leave Idaho Springs on Colorado Blvd. Cross immediately to the south side as you reach the western outskirts of Idaho Springs. Ride upstream. Near Dumont cross back to the north side. This will be obvious because you just need to follow the paved road. Ride through Downieville (there’s a Starbucks there and a convenience store) and cross under I-70. Ride 1/2 mile to a fork. Go left to cross Clear Creek one more time and follow what’s known as Alvaredo Rd and CR 306 all the way into Georgetown. The road is in good shape.

Ride into Georgetown on what is now Argentine St. At the Y with Loop Rd, bear left on Brownell St. Turn left on 6th St, right on Rose St and you’ll be climbing for real in a few short blocks. The climb begins steeply with switchbacks, levels out for a few short moments near the hydropower reservoirs, and gets steep again at the top. You can read a detailed description in Russell Harding’s Blog, The Road to Cat 1, if you like to know in advance how much you are going to suffer. I know I adapt badly to altitude so reading a detailed description does not help me much. Anytime above 9,000 feet hurts. But here’s the profile if you’re a visual learner.

At the top, there’s a large lot to the west with a Forest Service outhouse if you need it. The views are great and the descent is fast and smooth, a treat if you’ve ever suffered coming down from Mount Evans, which you can see from the top to the east.

July 16, 2012 Posted by | I-70 Corridor | , , , , | Leave a comment

Sunnyside Loop

The Sunnyside neighborhood is one of the four neighborhoods that collectively make up the area that most refer to generically as “The Highlands.” The others are Highland, West Highland, and Berkeley. Bounded by Federal Blvd, 38th Ave, I-25 and I-70, Sunnyside has yet to be overrun by hipsters, espresso shops, and micro-breweries. It took me a while to figure out how to get easily to 46th Ave, which ranks in my personal top ten as one of the best east-west streets in Denver, right up there with Dartmouth Ave, Montview Blvd, and 26th Ave. (Aside: have you ever noticed that there are far more great east-west streets in metro Denver than north-south?) Then I discovered a short piece of trail near an abandoned factory out past Cuernavaca Park that provided the missing link and avoided a scary underpass on 38th Ave and multiple twists and turns along Central Ave. The Sunnyside Loop takes in a good chunk of 46th Ave, the Cottonwoods section of Clear Creek Trail, a short stretch of residential climbing hear the Rolling Rock Golf Course, and returns along 20th Ave. You can ride it in either direction. I like going west on 26th Ave and east on 20th Ave, but everyone has a different idea on which is better.The description below starts at Confluence Park and goes counter-clockwise.

Start at Confluence Park. Get out to Platte St by leaving the Platte Trail at 15th, 16th, or 19th Streets. Ride north on Platte St to where it dead ends in a circle at Cuernavaca Park. This last stretch of road is called Rockmont Drive and honors the now defunct Rockmont Envelope Company that still graces the site, awaiting the right developer and a recovering economy for further direction. Ride north on the trail spur to connect to 37th Ave and Inca St. Some good graffiti and an interesting view of Denver will greet you.

Snake your way along Inca St and 37th ave to reach Lipan St and cross 38th Ave to reach 46th Ave. Ride west on 46th Ave to Tennyson St then go north (right) past Willis Case Golf Course to 52nd Ave, the northern boundary of Denver proper. Jog right and left to stay on Tennyson and descend a fast hill to intersect the Clear Creek Trail. It is not well marked but look for the pedestrian crossing sign and stop if you see the water in the creek.

East of here Clear Creek Trail is pretty industrial, but the stretch between Tennyson and McIntyre streets is more natural with good shade on hot days and interesting parks and bridges to hold your interest. Route finding is generally easy–look for the Clear Creek Trail signs and follow them. Sometimes around the many parks along the way there are two possible routes–just follow the trail of least resistance and you’ll be fine. if there’s been a lot of rain, avoid the underpasses along the major roads. Don’t be stupid or careless. If you are caught in a downpour and Clear Creek floods, move to higher ground–don’t seek shelter in one of the underpasses. The trail is interrupted twice, once at 52nd Ave and once again near Kipling St and the Wheatridge Recreation Center. The first interruption takes you briefly along quiet city streets.

The second detours under Kipling and through the Rec Center parking lot. If the Kipling underpass is flooded (it collects water easily) cross (without a light) at 41st Ave or at Kline St (with a light–just south of the Rec Center).

Watch for two sharp sequential humps along the trail, ridges really, that could throw the unwary cyclist. You can also shorten this loop by exiting the trail just before Kipling St at Independence St and riding south to connect to 32nd Ave. Surprisingly, all you need to do is follow the signs.

Exit the trail at McIntyre St by leaving the trail before Mcintyre and ride west on the Frontage Rd to make the turn on McIntyre. How will you know? Look for this building on your left. And if you pass under McIntyre by mistake, don’t worry. Just reverse course on the ramp and enter McIntyre from the west side–it is just an awkward maneuver and the exit from the Frontage Rd makes it simple and seamless.

Ride south on McIntyre to 32nd Ave. Go east (left) a short distance to Kendrick St (look for the sign for the Rolling Hills Golf Course) and escape 32nd Ave by riding south (right) on Kendrick to Fooothills Rd. Turn east (left) on Foothills. Climb through a small residential area and work your way east to Eldridge St. Go south (right) to join 20th Ave.

2oth Avenue is a great route east back into Denver. Watch out for a narrow area through Lena Gulch (where the Maple Grove Reservoir starts). Otherwise, there is a striped bike lane for most of the return. Just before Sheridan Blvd, detour around Sloan’s Lake at Depew St. Ride south t0 17th Ave, then east again to Sports Authority Mile High Stadium. You’re almost home. Circle the sports complex to the north or south and rejoin the Platte Trail just east of the Stadium. Ride the trail north (left) back to Confluence Park.

July 9, 2012 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Colorado Eagle River Ride

When it is so hot in Denver that the asphalt starts to get sticky and soft you know there’s only one solution: head to the hills. Let the Colorado Eagle River Ride be your siren’s song and pull you out to the Eagle River Valley for a fabulous, well supported century that benefits SOS Outreach, a local non-profit that builds “character in youth through outdoor adventure.” This year’s ride falls on July 27, 2013 and starts and ends in Beaver Creek. The route is a good one with fine scenery, wonderful climbing from Wolcott up to State Bridge, and a fabulous 20 mile stretch along the Colorado River that’s mostly dirt. But don’t let that stop you. The stretch is remote, beautiful and the road is is decent condition. Total vertical gain is a modest 2,750 feet, so this is a perfect first century if you’ve never tried one before. Sign up here.

July 2, 2012 Posted by | I-70 Corridor, Organized Rides | Leave a comment

Red Rocks Century

Looking for a challenging century ride (or shorter)? Want to keep it close to home? Fabulous views and lots of climbing important to you? Then it is time to check out the Red Rocks Century, a looping swooping, climbing sun-of-a-gun century that will have your thighs burning long before you get to Squaw Pass. Starting in Morrison, the century begins with a jaunt through Red Rocks Park, spins up Highway 74 to Kerr Gulch then loops along US 40 to Idaho Springs where the big climb begins: Squaw Pass from the west side is rated a 4.9 in the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club’s database of climbs and ranks 8th in the state. But who’s bragging? But wait, there’s more. After the 15 miles of pain that Squaw Pass represents you’ll be bombing down to Evergreen from where you’ll start the unheralded but difficult climb up Shadow Mountain Drive (8.5 miles, 5% avg, 15% max). Were that not enough, the climbing finishes out with one of my favorite stretches of steep climbing in the state, up through High Drive, Stanley Park Road and Little Cub (5 miles, 5% avg, 15% max). Now that’s a century. And it is sponsored by Primal Wear so you know the swag is going to be good. Better yet, it is not to late to sign up. The ride happens this year on Sunday, July 8, 2012. Shorter routes are also available. Sign up here. And when you finish and your legs are screaming at you send me a note and let me know how it went. The claimed elevation gain is over 10,000 feet.

July 2, 2012 Posted by | Deer Creek Canyon Area, I-70 Corridor, Organized Rides | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Bow Mar Triangle

This route is a crowd-pleaser. Remember the old jingle about Sara Lee? “Everybody doesn’t like something, but nobody doesn’t like Sara Lee.” That’s a phrase that Don Draper could come up with. This route is Mad Men good. It is a longer variant of several shorter rides that are in Great Road Rides Denver combined to make a longer mash-up. There are stretches on good cycling roads like Dartmouth and Quincy, stretches on three different trail systems, and a long loop around Cherry Creek Reservoir. Were that not enough, there are also two sneaky moves through fences–surprise passages that appear like some deus ex machina to whisk you through a fence just when you think you’ve hit a dead end. And did I mention the three killer KOM sections? And, of course, there are multiple ways to shorten it if you hit by bad weather or just feel guilty that you are outside having so much fun.

Start it anywhere on the loop. For descriptive purposes I’ll assume you are beginning somewhere along the Cherry Creek Trail. Ride to Confluence Park. Follow the Platte Trail upriver (south) until you come to Dartmouth Ave. Some people prefer to get to the streets immediately and if you are one of those, you can jump onto Jason st around Habitat Park and ride it and Platte River St south to Dartmouth. It is probably faster to stay on the trail, but the view never really changes if you do. Head west on Dartmouth and climb up to the old Loretto Heights College campus, detouring (if you’re interested) at the Bryant St hill for the first KOM section. Circle the campus to the south using Irving St, Girard Ave, and Knox Ct to reach your southbound goal, Lowell Blvd. The school on the hill has had multiple names and identities in the last few years, too many to keep track of really, so I just keep calling it the old Loretto Heights College. By any name, the main building is worth a second look.

Cross Hampden Ave and keep riding south on Lowell Blvd with a detour at Oxford around the historic Fort Logan parade ground if you are interested. Otherwise exit through the fence at Lowell and Quincy Ave and keep riding south to Berry Ave. Go west for the second KOM section into the little burg of Bow Mar. Make a loop as you wish through the quiet roads taking in both the main reservoir (Marston) and the smaller Bowles reservoir where there’s a swim beach for the residents. (Don’t even think about taking your clothes off for a quick dip on a hot day.)

Ride east on Berry Ave to Jason Street. Go south a few blocks to where the street seems to dead end in a mandatory right turn. Sneak left here through an opening in the fence to gain a sidewalk next to Bowles Ave. Cross Federal Blvd at the light and continue east to the Platte River Trail. The access is a little obscure but you’ll get there if you aim for the white bubble building and bear right. Ride north on the trail to Big Dry Creek and cross the South Plate on the bridge to go east and south on the BDC Trail. It will dump you at Powers Ave and Washington St. Go north on Washington to Sunset and Clarkson St. Ride south on Clarkson to Quincy Ave. If you are running out of time, keep riding north no Clarkson to return to Denver, using Dartmouth and Franklin St, for example to return through Washington Park.

Ride Quincy Ave east to Monaco St, passing Cherry Hills Country Club and Kent Denver School along the way. The third KOM usually begins at Colorado Blvd and runs to Happy Canyon Rd. Go right to Monaco and ride to Union Blvd, then east through the Denver Tech Center to Cherry Creek Reservoir. Circumnavigate the reservoir or bypass it depending on your mood. Return to Denver on the Cherry Creek Trail.

Here’s a map of the Bow Mar section, the most likely spot where things can get confused. PDF link.

May 29, 2012 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , | 2 Comments

The Burn Mountain Bike Time Trial

Southwestern Jefferson County has been the site of multiple large fires over the past 20 years, Buffalo Creek (1996), Hi Meadows (2000), Hayman (2002), and the Lower North Fork (2012). The Buffalo Creek Fire, through which the BMB Time Trial runs, burned almost 12,000 acres, the result of many years of fire suppression and very high fuel loads of dead branches and undergrowth. Two months later, it rained leaving behind a mess of mud, burned trees, and a weird lunar landscape.

Sixteen years later, the Buffalo Creek area looks better, with new undergrowth and the beginnings of new, small trees.

It still has fabulous mountain biking, but I didn’t know there was a time trial there you could do on a mountain bike. The Burn TT is back after a two year absence. If you love pain and suffering and bleeding out through your lungs in the midst of beautiful scenery, this one’s for you. There’s a short course (14 miles) and a long course (22) and both presumably have a fair amount of elevation gain. I’m guessing around 3,000 feet for the long course. This year’s version goes off in just a few short days (Saturday June 2) and space is limited so get your spot before it is too late. Organized and sponsored by Team Evergreen Racing, the same fine people who organize the Triple Bypass. Funny though, the mountain bike people seem to have a better sense of humor.

May 22, 2012 Posted by | MTB, Race Courses | , , , , | Leave a comment

Colorado State Time Trial Championships

2013 Colorado TT ChampionshipsThe Colorado State Time Trial Championships will be held on Saturday, June 16, 2013. Details are here. Shown is a new course in Keenesburg, just a short 40 minute drive up I-76 from Denver. The course is not much further than the 2012 course on the north and east side of DIA and should have much lower traffic volume. Depending on racing age and category, cyclists will ride either 20K or 40K. The course is without any long or steep hills so bring your fastest wheels.

The 2012 course is shown below.

May 18, 2012 Posted by | Race Courses | , , | 1 Comment

Buffalo Bicycle Classic

Buffalo Classic 2013

Buffalo Classic 2013 70 milesBuffalo Classic 2013 50 milesBuffalo Classic 2013 35 milesBuffalo Classic 2013 14 miles

If you’ve ever wanted to ride up Boulder Canyon without a car breathing down your neck, you can do it in the Buffalo Bicycle Classic. Now in its eleventh year, the BBC raises scholarship money for the College of Arts and Sciences at CU Boulder. This year’s long course again rides up Boulder Canyon, traverses the Peak to Peak Highway, and descends St. Vrain Canyon to Lyons.  Instead of turning south immediately, however, the long course runs up north for a 30 mile loop around Carter Lake–a big improvement over last year’s long course. On the return it passes through the well-traveled and bucolic roads of eastern Boulder County. Other shorter options are also available. Happily, the BBC has raised more than $1.6 million in scholarships for promising students and (sadly) is the single largest source of scholarships within the College. September 8, 2013. Don’t miss out. The 2012 routes are shown below.

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Boulder, Organized Rides | , , , | 1 Comment

Venus de Miles

Venus de Miles 2013

The century season comes to a close in Colorado in late August and early September. Two rides round out the season, Venus de Miles and the Buffalo Bicycle Classic. Both are true fundraisers, the one for Greenhouse Scholars, the other for the University of Colorado College of Arts and Sciences. Venus is open only to women. The Buff is open to all. The Venus date is Sunday, September 29, and it starts and finishes in Longmont, with many options for all riders. Fees for Venus are low, approximately $90, but each participant must also donate or raise $75 for Greenhouse Scholars, so the price is comparable to other Colorado centuries. The course promises an interesting tour of eastern Boulder County farmlands with great views of foothills and mountains to the west. The 2012 century map is shown below.

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Boulder, Organized Rides | , , | Leave a comment

Deer Creek Challenge (RIP)

The Deer Creek Challenge did not run in 2012 and may be gone for good. I’ll leave the maps up for their value. The Deer Creek Challenge bills itself as the toughest century in the country. And if you are counting only elevation gain they are probably right, since the DCC weighs in at 12,725 feet which is nothing to sneeze at. But the Triple Bypass comes close in elevation gain (10,990) and most of the Triple’s climbing is at altitude. DCC tops out at 8,700 while the Triple starts at 8,000 feet and climbs three times to 10,000, 11,000 and 12,000 feet. If you plug in these numbers to the oxygen calculators at Altitude.org you quickly discover that you’ve got 10% less oxygen at the top of Loveland Pass than you did at the top of the Black Mountain climb in the Deer Creek Challenge. So it is probably a push. But who really cares? They are both amazing and different rides and each appeals to different kinds of riders. More importantly, if you’re just learning about these two rides today, the Triple is filled by lottery with registration in early January each year. Today, there’s still room for you if you want to do the reverse Triple (Avon to Bergen Park) or the Double Triple. The DCC is first come-first served and there’s still space in all the rides (there are shorter variations on the long ride). Finally, where the Triple features long, uphill climbs that go on and on, the DCC is punctuated by medium and short length climbs, some of which are desperately steep. The DCC covers familiar ground to metro Denver riders (High Grade, Parmalee Gulch, Brook Forest) and throws in stretches that get less traffic (an out and back along Foxton Road to the N. Fork of the South Platte, City View counterclockwise, Black Mountain Road). The terrain is great, the riding difficult, and the organization is top notch. Add it to the list.

May 17, 2012 Posted by | Deer Creek Canyon Area, Organized Rides, Uncategorized | , , | 1 Comment