Maps + routes for the Colorado cyclist

Stonewall Century

At the back door to the San Luis Valley sit the little town of La Veta, a stone’s throw west of Walsenberg but not on the established route to Alamosa or the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Unless you are a restless wanderer or a kayaker scouting for possible runs on the upper reaches of the Purgatoire River, you probably wouldn’t have any reason to pass through La Veta. And yet there is a gorgeous pass waiting to be climbed.The 2013 version of the Stonewall Century is August 10. You’ll have a  chance to climb Cuchara Pass twice. The Stonewall Century is that rarity among Colorado rides: an out and back. It starts in La Veta, climbs up past the old Cuchara Valley Ski Area (now trying to reinvent itself as a four season destination resort!) tops out on the Pass at just under 10,000 feet, and drops down to the small hamlet of Segundo for lunch and the turnaround. Cuchara Pass is rated as a 2.9 and a 1.3 (north and south) in the database of climbs that the Rocky Mountain Cycling Club maintains, which puts the pass (or at least the north side of it) somewhere near the low middle of Colorado passes in difficulty, harder than Vail, Berthoud, and Lookout Mountain, but not as hard as Deer Creek/High Grade, Super Flagstaff, or Squaw/Juniper. But don’t be fooled. There are 7,500 feet of climbing. The climbs on each side average about 3.5%, but that’s deceptive since the measuring starts at La Veta and Trinidad respectively. And with a stretch near the top called Soul Crusher Hill, you’ve got to expect that the climbs will get steeper before you reach the top. But that’s why we do this kind of thing, isn’t it?

This map and the profile below are both done by George Rooney, whose cartography work with Team Evergreen I’ve long admired.

May 16, 2012 Posted by | Organized Rides | , , , , | Leave a comment

Copper Triangle

The Copper Triangle is an old favorite organized by Davis Phinney to benefit the Davis Phinney Foundation for Parkinson’s. The 2013 date is August 3. Phinney is a celebrated Olympic and professional cyclist, and is married to Connie Carpenter, herself an Olympic speed skating and cycling medalist. Together they raised Taylor, the latest wunderkind on the professional cycling circuit. Davis Phinney was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 2000 and has devoted his foundation life to raising funds for research and treatment of the disease ever since. These are good people in a hard fight so if you are looking for one organized alpine ride to do this year, the Copper Triangle is a great choice. It is short at 78 miles and the elevation gain (5,981) is doable with a moderate amount of training. After climbing from Copper Mountain up Fremont Pass to Leadville you ride downhill to Vail where you begin a long pull up the west side of Vail Pass, much the longer and steeper of the two sides. And even if you are not able to make it this year to the Triangle, add the route to your bucket list. It is a good one with simple logistics, relatively easy access to services if things go awry, and many options on starting points and direction. The smart money has you start in Vail. That allows you to get the hardest climb out of the way first and lets you finish in Vail with its relative wealth (compared to Copper Mountain) of restaurants and services.

May 16, 2012 Posted by | I-70 Corridor, Organized Rides | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Denver Century Ride

Denver Century 2013


Denver Metric Century 2013



Denver Metric Century 2013 Denver Quarter Century 2013

The 2013 version of the Denver Century Ride has new routes to keep it interesting. The 2013 route heads west from the Stapleton neighborhood to Red Rocks Park and Lookout Mountain before heading north to Arvada and east to southern Adams County. It finishes in Stapleton’s Central Park. There are four routes to choose from: a quarter-century, a metric century, a 75 mile ride without Lookout Mountain and the Hogback, and the full ride.

This year’s ride falls on June 16, 2013. If you’ve never ridden a century before, this is a good place to start–the elevation clocks in at 5,280, which compares favorably with Elephant Rock (5,900 feet), with the Buffalo Bicycle Classic (6,000), with the Stonewall Century (7,500 feet), with the Blue River Century (8,625), with the Triple Bypass ( 10,000), and with the Deer Creek Challenge (12,725). Only Venus de Miles, up in Boulder, has less gain (3,396).

The 2012 routes are shown below.


May 15, 2012 Posted by | Denver Metro, Organized Rides | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Elephant Rock Ride

Elephant Rock is one of the oldest if not the oldest organized rides in the state. The 2012 date is June 3 and the ride takes in great hunks of eastern Douglas County including parts of the Black Forest area. The terrain is rolling eastern plains with (almost predictably strong) strong winds. Rides are available for almost any cyclists. There is a 7 mile family ride that circles the Douglas County Fair Grounds a couple of times, a 25 mile fat tire classic, and a 34, 60, and 100 mile ride. It all begins and ends at the Douglas County Fairgrounds, just off I-25 at exit 161, Plum Creek Parkway. Were that not enough, there’s also a marathon 24 hours of ERock mountain bike race on May 31-June  1 in the Greenland Open Space just south of Castle Rock.

May 15, 2012 Posted by | Douglas County, Organized Rides | , , , , | Leave a comment

Hell of the Wolf Loop

This half-century ride begins and ends in Castle Rock and is famous in some circles for an invitation-only ride loosely organized by Bob Shaver of Shaver Sports Cyclewear. You could, of course, begin it anywhere and there’s easy parking next to Palmer Lake if you are coming from the south. The area is probably more well known for the Elephant Rock Ride which is celebrating its 25th year in 2012 and which features rides of 7 to 100 miles, some of which covers similar ground to the Wolf. The Wolf Loop takes its name from Wolfensberger Road, which runs roughly east-west from Colo 105 to I-25 climbing sharply in each direction. The Wolf hill is complemented by a slightly less steep hill leading into Palmer Lake on Spruce Mountain Rd. Options abound if you’re not interested in the full loop. Cutting across on Tomah Road makes a 22 mile loop, at Perry Park Avenue a 30 mile loop, and at Fox Farm Rd a 35 mile loop. No matter your choice of loop, anticipate rolling hills and strong winds–there’s little buffer in the way of topography or forest cover.

Traffic is generally light but know that Larkspur is home to the Renaissance Festival on weekends in June and July so expect congestion in the area. The other stretch that carries a lot of traffic is Wolfensberger Rd which sometimes feels like a demolition derby as harried denizens of the Perry Park area aggressively male their way to Castle Rock and I-25. Speed limits on many of the roads are 55 miles per hour and shoulders are limited. This should not dissuade you in the least from tackling any of these roads–a heads up attitude usually will suffice.

Route finding is straightforward. Ride west from the fairgrounds on Plum Creek Pkwy then south on the frontage road until it ends. Work your way through the Bear Dance area to Perry Park Ave, then ride east to Larkspur and Spruce Mountain Road. Ride south to Palmer Lake then turn north on Colo 105 to return to Wolfensberger Rd and hill. The only confusing part is as you make your way through the Bear Dance area south of Tomah Road. Here, a mishmash of small residential roads will try to confuse you so I’ve made a supplemental map to help you sort your way through. Even if you get off route, don’t despair. Keep moving south and east and you’ll eventually end up on Perry Park Ave. Much of the land you’ll be passing through is protected open space which makes for good riding but limited services. If you start in Castle Rock at the Fairgrounds on Plum Creek Parkway, you’ll usually find a porta-potty near the ballfields if the fairgrounds building is closed. Beyond that you’ll find convenience stores in Larkspur and Palmer Lake and a seasonal outhouse on the south side of the lake. For a real treat stop in at Rock House Ice Cream in Palmer Lake. It is just past the lake on Colo 105, is open seasonally, and has some of the best (read: “very high butterfat content!”) ice cream around.

PDF Link.

May 15, 2012 Posted by | Douglas County | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Table Mountain Loop

This loop started out as a tour of independent espresso joints across the metro area. I mapped and then plotted how best to reach as many as I could in a single ride from central Denver. I started working on it in late 2011 and early 2012, when the days are short and frequently cold and when a nice cortado is exactly what you need to warm the inner cyclist. As the route developed and the days grew longer and warmer, I realized that Yelp! is probably a better resource for indie coffee than a static map and abandoned all the little blue coffee cups that dotted the first draft of this route. But the route is a good one, even without the coffee stops. Named for the twin mesas that rise above Golden to the east, this great loop complements similar routes in the other sectors of the city: Red Rocks Loop, Meridian-Inverness Loop, and Going to the Dogs Loop.

The route finding on this one is not particularly difficult in any one area, but there are enough turns and possibilities that you should take a copy of this map and the detailed zoom maps with you, unless you are already familiar with the territory. The basic route is 34 miles, but add in the Cherry Creek Trail, a loop through Golden or a loop on the trails up and around the Arvada Reservoir, and pretty soon you’ll be at a half-century.

The tricky parts happen in the Confluence Park area (getting from there to Lipan St), through Arvada (finding your way to Simms St from Grandview Ave), and around Golden (finding Clear Creek Trail and navigating a loop around the city). None of these should put you off your game. The text below assumes you’re starting this ride in Denver, but there’s no good reason you shouldn’t do the ride from Golden, Wheat Ridge, Arvada, or Lakewood.

From Confluence Park you have three options to ride to Lipan St, which in turn connects you to 46th Ave. You can ride north on the Platte River Trail to Cuernavaca Park, then find the trail spur that parallels the interstate and links up with 36th Ave and Inca St. Just remember to stay on the northwest bank of the Platte and you’ll come directly to Cuernavaca Park. Second, you can jump onto Platte St and ride it northeast to the same trail spur. These two options take you along the historic train tracks and gives some interesting views of graffiti as you pass under the interstate and a spectacular view of downtown. Once you’ve crossed under the interstate, work your way west to Lipan St.  

The third option is slightly more direct and gives you a narrow slice of the Lo-Hi neighborhood. Leave the Platte River Trail at 16th St. Cross Platte Ste and work your way up and over the interstate via the Highland Bridge, admiring the John McEnroe sculpture as you pass by. Turn right on Central St and ride it and its variants (Osage, 32nd, and Kalamath) to Lipan St. All three options are designed to get you to Lipan St and thence to 46th Ave and the Sunnyside neighborhood. Go west on 46th to Tennyson St, then follow Tennyson to the Clear Creek Trail. Look for the white suspension bridge ahead. You want to be on it. Follow the sign to Ralston Creek Trail and cross Clear Creek. Wind your way up Ralston Creek and exit at Lamar St, the sign for which periodically disappears. Left and up from the trail after 1/2 mile is about right. Ride south briefly from the intersection of 58th Ave on Lamar then go west on Grandview Ave, one of the great cycling streets in the area. It takes you through the sights and sounds of Olde Town Arvadaand works its way west roughly parallel to 58th Ave. Go west then north on Grandview as it bends around past the cemetery. At 57th Place and old Kipling there’s a very tricky chicane you should probably put foot down for or walk. Cross 58th on old Kipling at an unprotected intersection then ride north past Starbucks to 58th Place. Go west and cross Kipling Parkway, again at an unprotected and sometimes tricky intersection. That’s the hard work. Ride west (on 58th Pl) and north (on Miller St) to reach Allendale Dr which connects going west to Simms St. Ride Simms north to 72nd Ave and 72nd Ave west to the Arvada Reservoir where an optional loop awaits you. The loop begins just past Virgil St at an obvious trail spur to the right. Loop or no, you’ll end up back at Virgil and 64th Ave. Go east to Easley Rd, then south towards Golden. Along the way the mesas for which the route is named come into sharp focus. They’re big.

As you approach Golden, decide on a plan. You can ride an extra loop through the city or work your way back to Denver on 32nd, 26th or 20th Ave. All are well worn by cyclists, but traditionally cyclists have crowded onto 32nd Ave, my least favorite route. If you like it and it works for you, don’t sweat any of the details that follow. Just hop on the Clear Creek Trail (confusingly you ride west on 44th Ave to find a small spur to reach the CCT), go east to McIntyre St, south to 32nd Ave and back to Denver.

For a more interesting route, ride south on Mcintyre then east briefly on 32nd Ave to Kendrick St, where you’ll see the sign for the Rolling Hills Golf Course. Go south on Kendrick to where it bends west. Go east on Foothill Rd which climbs and winds its way back to Eldridge St. Go south to 20th Ave. Ride 20th Ave all the way back to Denver, jogging north or south at Sheridan to get around Sloan’s Lake. There’s one narrow spot on 20th Ave at Urban St where traffic calming medians have narrowed the street to barely a car’s width. Be sure to use the whole lane here.

PDF Link.

April 12, 2012 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Boulder Roubaix

[The original of this post somehow got deleted, so this replaces that posting from early March.]

Singletrack Maps makes beautiful maps for mountain bikers in the Crested Butte, Durango, Ft Collins, Lyons, Golden, and Buffalo Creek areas. They also make race maps for DBC Events, which organizes and promotes, among others, Boulder Roubaix, Mead Roubaix, and the new Candela’s Circuit Race. If you’ve never ridden a Roubaix style race, or are interested in a classic gravel grinder or even something more extreme, like the rides in the Colorado Endurance Series, this is a great place to start. The 18 mile loop takes in the best parts of northeast Boulder back roads, with a particularly stunning stretch along Crane Holllow Rd. If you don’t live in the Boulder area, this is a good introduction to the mix of gravel and paved roads that make up the the cycling grid in Boulder County and that make the County such a great place to be a cyclist.You’re not likely to be alone up here–all these roads are well-traveled by many cyclists, joggers and walkers.

If you are not racing, start this one anywhere. You can ride out from Boulder, park along most of the roads, or find a convenient parking area such as that just west of 39th Street and Neva Rd. There are not a lot of C-stores out here, so it can be handy to pass near your car every loop you make. The loop shown is a an almost even mix of dirt and pavement, with most of the dirt well compacted by the use of magnesium chloride. Ruts, loose gravel, and narrow roads make this an interesting ride. There’s a very detailed description, from a racer’s point of view, of the dirt sections in Russell Harding’s blog, the Road to Cat 1.

April 8, 2012 Posted by | Boulder, Race Courses | , , , | Leave a comment

Bible Park Loop

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.


March 21, 2012 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , | Leave a comment

Grand Mesa Hill Climb

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  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.

Colorado National Monument

Unaweep Canyon Ride

Kannah Creek Loop

Arches National Park Ride

March 21, 2012 Posted by | Grand Junction Area | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Bear Creek Time Trial Series

BCTT 2012

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.

Bear Creek Time Trial

March 9, 2012 Posted by | Race Courses | , , , , | Leave a comment