I’ll never forget the first time I went “into the red” while cycling at altitude in Boulder. It was summer 2002; I’d moved here to work for VeloNews, a cycling magazine, and was riding with my new co-workers on the road that heads up from Jamestown to the Peak-to-Peak Highway. As the climb steepened, the pace grew stout, conversation ceased and a gauzy filter clouded my field of view. I forgot where I was, who I was riding with and what day it was. I was experiencing what the medical community refers to as hypoxia. It was at once an introduction and an indoctrination.
Being a recreational cyclist in Boulder means discovering new ways to test yourself. A variety of paved canyons and connecting routes present an endless array of challenges and terrain. The infamous weather fluctuations along the Front Range deliver ever-changing conditions. There’s a large community of cyclists in the Boulder area, and the talent pool is both vast and deep.
And really, there is no singular Boulder cycling community: Groups overlap and intermingle. There are the roadies that pedal together side by side, heading upwards to Ward, Nederland, Estes Park. There are the singletrack shredders that park along Lefthand Canyon and tackle the rowdy OHV (off-highway vehicle) trails. There is the Thursday Night Cruiser Ride crew that takes over the city streets donned in costumes, speakers blasting. There is the growing legion of gravel riders who flock to the empty farm roads and trails north and east of town. There is CU’s cycling team, which has produced national collegiate champions, including Sepp Kuss (Advert’17), who rode in a support role for the 2022 Tour de France winner. There’s the Boulder Junior Cycling program, which has embarked on a streak of producing national cyclocross champions.
Boulder’s cycling community continues to thrive and evolve. The addition of Valmont Bike Park in 2011 offered a 42-acre playground and race venue that further established Boulder as a cycling hub. The city is now dotted with BCycle bike-share bikes and their solar-powered docking stations.
And while Boulder is known for its world-class recreational riding, its bike path system is one of the crown jewels of the city. With 84 miles of paths and over 80 underpasses, it’s possible to spend the majority of any bike commute uninterrupted and away from car traffic. I cherish the ability to ride my daughter to and from her elementary school on our cargo bike, with nearly all of the 10-minute commute spent on Goose Creek Path. When she’s a bit older she’ll be able to make the trip on her own power, and the Boulder cycling community will have yet another member in its ranks.