Photo by Doug Schnitzpahn
Winter’s coming, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop riding. Late fall is the perfect time to explore Front Range rides like Betasso Preserve, without the crowds. Located right up Boulder, Canyon, you can access the ride straight from town without a car. All totaled, you’ll cover 18 miles—or more, depending on how many laps you do on the singletrack loops, with approximately 2,000 vertical feet to climb and bomb back down. Be aware: You must follow the directional arrows and no bikes are allowed on Wednesdays and Saturdays.
Get Outta Town
Start from home, your hotel or park your car at Eben G. Fine Park for easy access to the Boulder Creek Trail. Cruise up the canyon on the bike path that parallels Canyon Road (SR-119).
Hit the Road
After enjoying a mellow two-mile climb on the Boulder Creek Trail, the path dead ends and pushes you onto the highway. Cross the road and pay attention as you jockey with traffic and ride the very narrow shoulder safely up the canyon. You may want to say hi to our friends at the Boulder Adventure Lodge (see page 10), just up Four Mile Canyon, on your right.
Choose Your Own Adventure
Ride a quick mile on the road, until you reach the Betasso Link (a.k.a. Pipeline) trailhead on the right side of the road just before the tunnel. This option will access the trails in Betasso, but it’s a tough climb with rock obstacles. It’s fun for experts—but less burly riders will want to keep heading up the road.
If you skip the Link, continue riding through the tunnel, and up Highway 119 until you reach Sugarloaf Road. Turn right here and settle in for the steepest part of the road climb. Enjoy beautiful views down canyon as you huff and puff.
Push through another steep mile on the road and take the first right onto Betasso Road.
Hit the Singletrack
After less than a mile of climbing, you will reach the trailhead on your left. Turn off Betasso Road, ride through the parking lot and hit the sweet singletrack of the Canyon Loop, a 3.3-mile loop with just over 400 feet of vertical. (Note the directional sign, which changes every two weeks and follow it.) Both beginners and experts will enjoy this smooth trail packed with curvy singletrack, lots of flow and a few windy switchbacks. Its lack of big boulders, extremely technical moves or dangerous terrain makes it a fast, forgiving ride. At times, you will cruise through a lush forest; at others, the trail will reward your efforts with stunning vistas of the canyon and surrounding foothills.
Keep On Keeping On
Here you reach the Benjamin Loop, a flowy four-mile trail that lengthens the Betasso ride. Built four years ago, this route—complete with twists, turns, and stiff-but-doable climbs—winds through thick forest and climbs up above the preserve. Cruise this loop once or run laps (note that the directional arrow changes here each week). Once you have had your fill, head back to the Canyon Loop Trail and follow the GPS route back to town (you can also choose to leave Betasso Preseve and link to Four Mile Canyon from the Benjamin Trail.)
Salsa Spearfish Carbon SLX
The folks at Salsa Cycles take their slogan “Adventure by Bike” seriously.The Spearfish, an ultra-endurance, full-suspension racing 29er, was built to do it all. Melding comfort and efficiency, this featherweight mountain bike climbs like a beast, handles with agility and descends with grace. With 80 mm of rear travel, the extremely maneuverable cross-country ride was specifically built for the long haul (think 100-milers, 24-hour races and multi-day bikepacking). It corners well, steers with precision, brakes predictably and gobbles up bumps and rocks even when you’re spent. All of those qualities also make it a fine bike to take out on a fun day ride like Betasso. $3,699; salsacycles.com