DENVER - Urban and suburban bike riding is such a trip for me, given that it's so easy to avoid in our neck of the woods.
My wife and I made a great escape last weekend. She had a rare chance to take off both days of the weekend, so we took the opportunity to visit my brother and his wife in Denver. I had to bring my road bike because it was going to be so warm.
My brother lives in Golden, on the western edge of the greater metro area, so he has easy access to roads and trails that aren't packed with urban traffic. But getting there sometimes provides an adrenaline buzz. Following someone who knows where he is going through a maze of intersections and stoplights takes a leap of faith. My brother is a cautious guy, and he always tries to give me a clue about tricky corners, etc. Nevertheless, it's still a little unnerving when you're not used to heavy traffic.
We cleared the congested areas Saturday morning with little trouble and got on Highway 40 West, paralleling Interstate 70 on the way to Genesee. We climbed the steady grade and then ditched the Front Range to tackle the short, steep climb to the upper lot at Mother Cabrini Shrine. After a brief break at the top to check the great view of downtown Denver and the surrounding foothills, we screamed downhill and headed to Red Rocks for more short, intense climbing. The amphitheater is always a pleasure, even though crazed tourists trying to figure out the parking situation are likely to pull their vehicles out in front of you, even if you have the right of way. Sure enough, that happened to us, but fortunately it happened when we could easily take evasive action.
The last leg of the day took us over Dinosaur Ridge, another steady climb on a road that has been closed to general vehicular traffic. Tour groups on foot were checking out the fossils on both the climb and rapid descent. Bike riders were out in force, tying the hogback into a larger ride.
After negotiating Colfax Avenue, we skirted the Jefferson County Courthouse and made our way back home on quiet residential streets.
The 24-mile loop wasn't the kind of ride I'm accustomed to in Missouri Heights, for example, but it had its own thrills and charms. It was just mind-boggling to be riding anywhere in Colorado when it was that warm on Dec. 1.