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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.

Denver Loves Bikes

16 Oct

Came back from my trip to Denver with bronchitis and have been slooowly getting over it.

Pictures and blog post are in the works.

Until then, I thought I would show you an example of how Denver loves their bikes.

Bike love makes the world go (a)round.

Hmmm.. maybe a slogan for loveofbikes.com?!

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Denver

30 Sep

3_REI_Denver_Skyline_MastheadWe are headed to Denver, Colorado this week! We’re excited about the trip and about our plans to rely on our legs and mass transit to get us around the city. The days we spend in the mountains we will rely on a rental car. No one’s perfect.


We found a great little vacation rental in the LoHi (Lower Highland) neighborhood which puts us near the hub of things downtown – and the REI flagship store. I am as excited about that as most women are about Nordstrom’s or an outlet mall. Maybe more – I’m really excited!18

For most of our transportation needs we’ll utilize Denver’s bike share program, Denver B-cycle. There is a B-station about .5 mile from our place and in total there are 53 stations with 530 bikes for use around the metro.

B-cycleThis will be my first opportunity to utilize a bike share in a city, Oklahoma City has Spokies, but regrettably I haven’t used it yet. What a great resource for cities to offer, for us the tourist or visitor, but for the city as well by reducing traffic congestion, need for parking, etc. A win – win for sure.

I hope to post about our adventure during the week so check back!

 

Road Trip and Random Thoughts

20 Jun

Sadly, this road trip is in our car. We’re going to NE Ohio, so riding our bikes wasn’t exactly practical.

I may be in the car, but I’m thinking about bikes. Could have something to do with the fact that I brought all the biking magazines I haven’t had time to read. Starting off with Adventure Cyclist, Adventure Cycling Association’s main publication. Every issue I’ve ever read is chocked full of good stuff about bike travel and interesting articles too. The magazine is complementary as a member of Adventure Cycling. If you aren’t a member I encourage you to check them out and consider joining. Besides their interesting magazine and infamous bicycle touring maps, they are the type of organization all of us that love bicycling should support.

No, this is not a paid endorsement.  Besides, this post isn’t about Adventure Cycling.

Actually, I’m not really sure what this post is about… surely something related to bikes and biking.

Random Thoughts…

We were able to get three rides in last week, 76 miles total. On one of the rides we saw a tarantula, deer, turkey and a low-flying hawk that guided us on the road for a while. I had my camera with me for 2 of the 3 rides but didn’t end up getting a single shot of any of the wildlife.

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While we’re in the Cleveland area we plan to rent bikes and ride one of the many trails they have. Cleveland gets a bad rap, it is actually a pretty city with 100+ miles of paved bike paths in the city.

Tour de France:

I’ll also work on my annual preview piece about the upcoming Tour de France. I should get it posted up June 29th if not before so check back if you’re a Tour nut like moi. My plan this year is to do what I’ve done the previous two years – write a blog each day for every stage and if the Tour is enthralling (when is it not) I’ll probably write on the rest days too.

Check out my 2010 Tour de France posts (Lance Armstrong’s last) and my posts the on uber-exciting 2011 Tour de France. Can’t see how the 2012 version of the Tour can possibly be as exciting as last year’s but we’ll see. Regardless, there will be thrills and drama and I’ll be watching it all.

Seattle and Sooke, BC:

What a  pleasure it was to bike in Seattle and on the western edge of the Trans-Canada bicycle trail. Of the two areas my experience was that biking had a larger presence in Victoria, BC and the Sooke areas of Vancouver Island then in Seattle. Be it a 4 lane or 2 lane highway, busy boulevard, downtown street or trail people were riding bikes and they had the infrastructure to support them. That infrastructure included marked bike paths/lanes, segregated lanes, paved/unpaved bicycle trails (Trans-Canadian goes across the entire country), ample parking and signage.

There was a significant number of people riding bikes as we drove from Victoria to Sooke.There was a big presence of cyclists in the business and downtown areas of Victoria too. Not surprisingly, there was very little spandex. You could tell cyclists were a normal part of the street scene, an accepted mode of getting around. On the majority of our drive from Victoria to Sooke, part of the road (or nearby trail) was used to accommodate bikes and was marked. We would see a sign that said “bike path ends” only to see another sign, “bike path” just down the road.

I was green with envy. Still am when I think about it.

Seattle was also supportive of cycling through marked lanes, bike paths, signage, parking, etc. Interestingly, helmets are required by law in Seattle and riding on the sidewalk is legal and somewhat common in downtown. I expected to see more people riding bikes than we did. I expected to see less gridlock on the roads than we did.

Part of the reason could be that Seattle is very HILLY. Much hillier than I expected, San Francisco kind of hilly. We stayed in the Queen Anne neighborhood which is known for its steep hills but other parts of Seattle were hilly too – so to summarize: Seattle is hilly!

There were streets that were only stairs taking you from one steep street to another. The street signs were marked with a pedestrian. When I get home I’ll post pictures here of Seattle and Vancouver Island.

Ticket:

I posted the $119 bond for my “disregard of (red) signal light” ticket. My date with the judge is set for July 12th. I had a good conversation with the City Attorney last week, I’m looking forward to explaining my actions to the judge. I’ll let you know the outcome.


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