Denver by Bike

18 Oct

On a recent vacation to Denver we made the decision to not rent a car until the last couple of days of our trip when we would drive in to the mountains to see the beautiful fall color of the aspen. Otherwise, to see the sights, dine out, shop, etc. we would go by bike, walk or take public transportation.

As it turned out we didn’t need public transportation other than rental bikes from the Denver B-Cycle bike share program. We used the bike share program, with bike stations scattered throughout Denver – 530 bikes total, to meander throughout Denver for the purpose of transportation and recreation. Bikes are a perfect way to discover a new city and that was especially true here.

Denver’s bike network is extensive as the map below shows. (Click on images to make larger).Denver Bike Map Page 1Denver Bike Map Page 2

What I especially like about it is that so much of it is completely separated paved trail, going along either the South Platte River or Cherry Creek.

Cherry Creek trail

According to Denver.org, Denver has over 850 miles of paved off-road trails. 850 miles! Paved!! Then there are hundreds more miles of dirt trails. Nirvana.

We didn’t even scratch the surface of the bike network. Needless to say, we’ll be going back again and again. We actually are considering relocating to Denver in a few years. Denver is a great city and if you tire of that there’s endless adventure in the Rocky Mountains.

I’m getting ahead of myself, back to this trip…

We biked in the neighborhood of 75 miles while we were there and it would have been more, but I got sick so we didn’t. Actually I came down with a sore throat/cold the first full day we were there, but towards the end of our trip I ran a fever, so I gave in and stayed in – for the most part. The weather also turned cold, including a light dusting of snow.

Our first day we explored the neighborhood (Lo-Hi) of our vacation rental (VRBO), had dinner and then walked to the nearest bike station (about a mile from our rental) to check out bikes.

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We rode along the South Platte river trail to the REI flagship store.

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We visited this store nearly every day we were there. I never made it to the climbing wall.

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The Denver B-Cycle Trek bikes had front and back lights so riding at dusk and night was doable. I LOVED riding at night. Plus again, most of these rides were off-road paved trails. Nirvana.

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The sun set on Denver-Day 1.

The next day I woke up with that nasty sore throat but we headed out (on foot) for coffee and breakfast with the belief coffee can fix anything.

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I learned yesterday that not all B-cycles are created equal. Created equal maybe, but they don’t stay that way. My 2nd bike last night wouldn’t shift (3 speed internal hub) so I wanted to select a good one. I always checked the tires and bikes before calling out to Mark the number of the bike I wanted. We had bought a $20 week pass from Denver B-Cycles before arriving. The pricing system works like this: with a pass, the first :30 minutes free, up to 1 hour is $1 and every half hour after is $4.

For short trips you typically wouldn’t have to pay anything. On the days like today where we biked almost the whole day we had a few $1 charges because we couldn’t always find a station close in to return and check out again. No biggie, it was still cheap transportation/recreation.

First on the agenda was to check out the South Platte river trail heading south. We didn’t ride very far before riding back toward downtown to take the Cherry Creek trail.

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The ride on Cherry Creek south was much more scenic than the South Platte. Cherry Creek trail (see map above) goes through the downtown area and beyond. It was easy to get downtown using the trail and we often did. We rode this trail almost every day, the furthest south we rode was to the Cherry Creek Mall.

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The first presidential debate occurred while we were there, the above shot is Latimer Square.

We ended up riding to Washington Park (via South Platte trail and city streets/paths).  It was beautiful park and a great place to ride.  Afterwards we rode around the neighborhood and then returned the bike to the Washington Park station and checked out another.

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We returned via bike paths to Cherry Creek and then downtown for beer and lunch. In that order.

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On other days we rode to the Botanical Gardens, Confluence Park, Cheesman Park and City Park. Plenty of green spaces in Denver. We found Denver drivers to be safe around us without being skittish. You can tell they are used to dealing with cyclists on the roads.

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We spent a day in the car in search of the infamous aspen color in the mountains. We drove up to Guanella Pass, Georgetown, Peak to Peak highway and Boulder. The aspen weren’t at their prime, probably a week or two late, but there was still plenty of color and with the wind, we saw the aspen shimmer. I love the mountains.

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Unfortunately, after the mountains I got sicker, spiked a high fever and don’t remember much of the last two days of our trip. I do remember that I was sick of being sick so told Mark I was feeling okay, was tired of being cooped up so we took one last ride on those bright red rentals. We rode for a couple of hours and it was cold!

 

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Bronchitis, but still smiling.  Why? Because I was on a bike having fun!

Biking makes everything better doesn’t it.

I highly recommend Denver for biking, if you go, be sure and get a free Denver Bike map.

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3 Responses to “Denver by Bike”

  1. Kim October 21, 2012 at 10:47 am #

    Drats about getting sick on vacation. That is a bummer, but I’m glad you were able to get on the bike anyway. I’m curious about how you got to Denver? I’m assuming you weren’t driving or you would just take your own bikes and not have to rent a car for the Aspen outing. I’m one of those Midwestern car-centric people and can’t figure out how to travel to other cities and not have to rely on the car to get the trip started. Colorado is definitely on the list of place I want to visit so I just ordered the maps you suggested. I want to go and do the Rio Grande Trail:)

    • Susan October 21, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

      Hi Kim,

      We flew to Denver on Southwest from Okc. It’s a direct flight, less than 1 1/2 hours and Southwest frequently offers up specials to Denver. I hadn’t heard of the trail you mentioned but just looked it up – looks beautiful. There were two maps on the link I listed, we only got the Denver Bike Mapy but it also has info on surround area trails/routes. A good website for biking information on the whole state is: http://bicyclecolo.org/

      Let me know if you have any other questions or if I can help, hopefully if you go to Colorado you’ll have a chance to bike in Denver too I was amazed how well set-up the city is for biking. ~Susan

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