Boulder attracts pro cyclists from all over the world because of the unmatched access it provides to world-class rides. A favorite of locals and visitors alike, this 63-mile round trip is perhaps the best. It powers uphill for a total climb of about 11,000 feet and descends about the same over the day. Rewards include breathtaking views of towering peaks and the chance to grab a post-ride beer in one of Boulder’s many breweries.
Begin your adventure by pedaling north out of Boulder. Make sure you’ve got everything you need for a long day including food, drink, rain gear and tire/bike repair materials.
Hit the Open Road
Just a few miles north of town, you’ll merge with Highway 36. Though this 2-lane road can see a good bit of traffic especially in summer, there is a generous shoulder. Enjoy the rolling terrain and pastoral landscape as you work your way through the foothills. After about 14 miles, you’ll reach a stoplight. Turn left at the light and head towards Lyons. Make a pit stop at the Stone Cup in town (it’s your last chance for a good long while) and/or cool off with a dip in the river.
Head West, Young Man
From town, head left on Old St. Vrain Road (Highway 7). Leave the traffic behind and start the gradual (4-5 percent grade for 20 miles) and stunning climb up the forested St. Vrain Canyon.
Breathe easy and revel in finishing a tough, steady climb up to over 8,000 feet. If you have it in you, take a short detour and head right on Highway 7 toward Allenspark. After just a couple miles, you’ll be rewarded with groves of aspens—which should be glowing gold by mid-September—and amazing views of Rocky Mountain National Park’s highest snow-capped peaks. After taking in the overwhelming beauty, head back to the intersection and head south on Highway 72 (a.k.a. the Peak to Peak Highway). Enjoy the steep descent here, but don’t be fooled—the climbing isn’t over. In fact, you’ll top out at about 9,300 feet along this spectacular section of road, so take it slow and steady and keep some energy in the tank.
All Downhill from Here
Keep an eye out for a tiny sign indicating there is a Post Office nearby. Turn left at this sign onto the steep, curvy Indiana Gulch Road, toward Ward. Take a quick break in the tiny town of Ward, a settlement born out of the local mining boom in the 1860s. Grab a drink or snack at the “convenience” store before starting the extremely fun cruise (full of curves) down Lefthand Canyon.
Turn right onto Highway 36 and retrace your steps back to Boulder. Reward your hard work with an a cup of coffee at Ozo Coffee on Pearl Street (ozocoffee.com ) or grab a beer and lunch at one of our most revered spots, the Mountain Sun Pub & Brewery (mountainsunpub.com).