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5 of Boulder’s Best Bike Adventures

The sheer amount of ground you can cover from Boulder on a road bike is astounding. Boulder’s perfect location at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains gives riders the option of smooth flats or big climbs, all right from town. Heading out north and east, the scenery quickly changes as riders go by farms, fields and lakes. Heading west into the canyons offers incredible rides up into the mountains and ambitious riders can climb over 4,000 vertical feet then loop back home along some of the most scenic paved roads in America.

Many professional riders (and triathletes) come to Boulder specifically to train on the bounty of well-maintained roads. The high altitude helps with the cardio side of things and the 300+ days of sunshine makes rained-out rides a rare occurrence. It’s one of Colorado’s secrets that many of the cities located along the foothills have relatively mild winters, meaning roadies can get rides in year round — as long as they don’t mind bundling up a bit.

For those visiting Boulder, renting a bike is easy. There are several shops that offer bike rentals for about $40 a day, including Full Cycle, University Bikes and Bicycle Village. And rest assured if you simply want to stay in town and explore Boulder’s many bike paths, the B-Cycle program has several docking stations throughout the city where you can rent and return cruiser bikes.

Here’s a quick look at 5 of Boulder’s best road bike adventures. Maps courtesy of Note that all rides except Flagstaff Road start at Amante Coffee in north Boulder. The Flagstaff ride starts at Chautauqua Park.

1. Nelson Loop – Flats and Rolling Hills
22 miles

This classic ride starts on US 36, a somewhat busy highway with an extra-wide shoulder that makes it very bike friendly. Traffic will lessen as you head north into farmland and small communities, all in the shadow of the foothills. Turning east onto Nelson Road brings you into the true farming communities of Boulder County. Grazing cattle, scenic ponds and family farms transport you physically and mentally from the city. Close the loop by heading south on North 63rd street, then cruising down Niwot Road and reconnect with US 36. A great half-day ride or a fun retreat when you need a little away from it all.

2. Left Hand Canyon – Long, Sustained Mountain Climb
38 miles

This out and back ride goes up Left Hand Canyon to the quirky town of Ward, gaining over 3,300 vertical feet over 16 miles. Many riders prefer to start at the Green Briar Inn and avoid US 36 altogether. Though the climb is long, the grade is moderate for the majority of the ride — only about a 4% grade, up until the last mile to Ward where it jacks up over 10%. You’ll be over 9,000 feet above sea level when you top out! Riders can choose to descend the way they came or go big on Peak-to-Peak Highway and return via the town of Lyons and US 36 (roughly a 75 mile ride).

3. Lee Hill Loop – 2 Hour Ride with Steep Climbs and Blazing Descents
14 miles

The Lee Hill Loop cruises up into the Boulder Heights community and and hits some fierce climbs along the way. This loop is fun in either direction, but get ready for a few staggeringly steep sections no matter which way you ride. The views east out onto the plains are fantastic; quite a reward for all that tough climbing. After fighting up the steepest section at mile 2 – 3, the hills become more rolly and views open up. After a steep descent back into Left Hand Canyon, turn onto Olde Stage Road for another brief but steep climb, then speed your way back into town.

4. Carter Lake – Epic Touring Ride
60 miles

Looking for a long day tour? Boulder to Carter Lake should be on your list. This ride starts out the same as the Nelson Loop but then continues north all the way to Carter Lake Reservoir in Larimer County. There’s a beachs and concession stands that are open in the summer, so you can have a picnic and a swim before headed back town. This ride is mostly on easy-going, open country roads. If you’re looking to turn this ride into a full century, carry on past Carter Reservoir and bike all the way up to Horsetooth Reservoir for an honest 100 mile day.

5. Flagstaff Road – Vertical Madness
9.5 miles

Our final ride starts at Chautauqua Park and immediately sends you up a narrow, twisting mountain road. Get ready for over 2,000 vertical feet of gain in four miles! Climbers love the pacing, the views and the challenge of this ride. While there is moderate traffic, locals know to look out for riders. The descent through hairpin turns and steep hills may be rougher than the climb — make sure your brakes are tuned up!

Written by James Dziezynski for RootsRated and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

Featured image provided by James/scubadive67

Balanced Life: A Look at How Colorado Business People Get Re-Energized in the Outdoors

It’s no secret that Colorado is a popular place to be if you love to be outdoors. It’s consistently recognized as the fittest state in the country, and was ranked 4th in Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index in 2016 (Colorado has been in the top 10 for the past eight years). With developed trails rarely more than a few minutes away and decent weather practically year-round, it’s hard to find a reason to not get outside. Which is good news, because studies have shown that spending time in nature can make you more creative, more focused, and less stressed‑all of which can make you better at your job.

For Nick Cerratani, owner of Cerratani Aviation Group, Colorado has always been his top choice for where to work (and play). "I came to Boulder in 1983 on a rock climbing trip, and the first sight of Boulder Valley affected me in the same way as my first flight-I immediately knew I would live here someday. It took me a while, but … Boulder was the only option on my list." Cerratani believes that spending time on the trail makes him both a better father and a better boss. And when you’re based in a place like Boulder, Colorado, you don’t even have to encourage your staff to get outside. “Living in Boulder provides a good deal of impetus for outdoor activities and our employees don't need much encouragement to take advantage of what this area has to offer,” he says.

It’s in the Culture

The guys at FastG8 work hard, but always make time to get outside.
The guys at FastG8 work hard, but always make time to get outside.

Tyler Moebius

You could say that the outdoors lifestyle is ingrained in the culture of many businesses based here, so much so that Outside magazine listed 36 Colorado companies in its annual 100 Best Places to Work roundup. And they aren’t all your typical "outdoor gear" companies, either.

Take the #1 company on the list, Forum Phi, for example. This architecture firm based in Aspen offers discounted ski passes and gym memberships, and once a quarter they do something outdoors together as a team. TDA Boulder (#37 on the list) is an independent ad agency that has paid for employee race registrations, provided a fitness stipend, and encouraged employees to climb 14ers with the promise of donating $1,000 to charity if they bring back photo proof.

For many companies in Colorado, like digital marketing firm FastG8, getting outside as a team is an important part of the day. During lunch breaks, the guys at FastG8 will go for a road bike ride, a mountain bike ride, or get in a couple ski runs before the afternoon’s workload. They are usually training for an event together, and CEO Tyler Moebius jokingly says that their motto is "a team that suffers together stays together."

It’s Easy

With so much world-class skiing in the Rockies, many Colorado employers offer powder days, or discounted ski passes.
With so much world-class skiing in the Rockies, many Colorado employers offer powder days, or discounted ski passes.


Colorado has some of the most easily accessible outdoor opportunities in the United States. You can run or bike on the multi-use trail systems in and around the major cities year-round, but that is just scratching the surface.

With 58 peaks over 14,000 feet and the 486-mile Colorado Trail, nearly everyone is lacing up their hiking boots when the warm weather comes. Colorado might not have an ocean, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t lots of waterways just waiting to be explored. The mighty Arkansas and Cache la Poudre Rivers are known for white water rafting, Boulder Creek and the Platte in downtown Denver are perfect for tubing, and stand up paddleboarders love the wide Yampa River in Steamboat Springs (just to name a few).

The ski slopes that are so popular in the winter are a sweet challenge for downhill mountain bikers in the summer, too, with ski lifts serving as bike lifts.

But of course, people from around the world come to ski and snowboard the slopes of the Rockies. The 22 resorts across the state have a total of 1,803 trails and average 300 inches of snowfall—not to mention all the backcountry routes, the cross-country skiing, and the snowshoeing in and around the resorts.

In short, there is never a shortage of outdoor activities in the Centennial State, regardless of what season it may be. Many of these activities are close enough to cities or towns that it’s easy to get a little fresh air before work, during your lunch break, or even after work. More and more employers are realizing the value of their employees’ health and well-being, and Colorado-based companies are at the forefront of the work/life balance movement.

Written by Abbie Mood for RootsRated in partnership with Choose Colorado and legally licensed through the Matcha publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

Featured image provided by Michael W Murphy