Maps + routes for the Colorado cyclist

Bryant Street Loop

Bryant Street LoopIn 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. They 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 Eisenhower Park Loop (south and east) and the Bible Park Loop (east and south). Bryant Street takes you south and west.

Most of what you need to know is on the maps themselves. But a few words are probably helpful.

Bryant Street Loop features my favorite short hill in metro Denver, between Dartmouth and Bates, two blocks of sheer steepness that flirt with the mid-teens in grade. Were the hill longer, the neighborhood would be overrun with Lycra. There are a few other, smaller hills, too, on Zuni Street as well. If they catch your attention, check out the Hill Junky Circuit. I’ve suggested riding this loop clockwise for two reasons. It makes the Mississippi stretch more manageable (a longish downhill run instead of a slow slog uphill) and it makes the navigation to Washington St (the one-way southbound that parallels Emerson St) a lot easier. But if you’re persistent enough, you’ll figure out how to make it work. The sketchiest part of the ride is between Platte River Dr and Broadway on Mississippi. The road is rough. There’s a gloomy underpass. And sometimes the traffic is intense. Don’t let these factors throw you off. Either time your entrance into the tunnel so the bulk of the traffic has passed, or find and use a sidewalk on the north side of Mississippi for a relatively safe passage through. Don’t miss the sheer bliss of the bike lane northbound on Emerson St. It is a great alternative to Washington Park.

May 31, 2013 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , | Leave a comment

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.

Link to PDF version

March 7, 2011 Posted by | Denver Metro | , , , , , | 2 Comments