Oh the places you'll go
There's no shortage of trail systems and designated bike lanes in Boulder: more than 300 miles of dedicated bikeways, to be a bit more specific.
Some get you from A to B, others lead to even more biking, and some are good for when the ride itself is the destination.
No one knows these beaten paths like Ray Keener, a longtime Boulderite and self-proclaimed lover of all things bike.
Here are his three recommendations for where to go and what to see, all starting from the CU campus:
The Great North
There's great road and trail riding north of Boulder and no better warmup than this ride through historic, traffic-free neighborhoods.
Route: From the intersection of Colorado and Folsom, head north on Folsom, turn left at the Pine Street light, then turn right on Fourth Street. Cross Linden and you're in the Wonderland Lake trail system. When the paved trail turns to gravel, go right toward Broadway, left on Broadway, and you're soon on U.S. 36 headed to Niwot, Lyons or Hygiene.
On a mountain/gravel bike, keep heading north on the trail, cross Lee Hill Road, and you'll connect to the Foothills Trail, which takes you back under Broadway and on to the Boulder Valley Ranch trails.
Points of Interest: McGuckin Hardware (a seriously cool store even if you're not the handy type, with possibly the most helpful and friendly retail workers around); the Mork and Mindy house (ask your parents); Mapleton Hill historic district
This route leads to some great mountain biking in the Eastern Plains and also showcases the best of Boulder's trail system.
Route: From the intersection of Colorado and Folsom, head north on Folsom until you reach the Goose Creek underpass. Head east on the Goose Creek Path to Valmont Road, a great easterly gateway to the plains road riding and the White Rocks (short but sweet) mountain bike trail.
To make a scenic in-town loop, cut south at either of two places to connect to the Boulder Creek Path, and back in to campus.
Points of Interest: Community Cycles (for cool bikes); Valmont Bike Park (for sweet jumps); Valmont Disc Golf Course (for chill dudes)
This route is especially appealing to mountain bikers, because the awesome Marshall Mesa trail system is less than 3 miles from campus. For roadies, the Cherryvale Loop is a one-hour, low-traffic fitness ride. This is also the best connection to the Boulder-Denver bike path.
Route: From the intersection of Baseline and Broadway, head east a few blocks, then go south on the Bear Creek path, one of Boulder's most scenic. When you get to Broadway, continue along the east side of the road heading south, and you'll end up in the sleepy town of Marshall.
From there, mountain bikers head to the Marshall Mesa trailhead, and roadies can either head back north on Cherryvale Road to Baseline or keep going on Marshall Road/Colo. 170 on to link up with the famous Morgul Bismarck race course.
Points of Interest: Baseline Road is 40.00'.00" north latitude (nerd alert!); Marshall Mesa trailhead (hike or bike it); a truly stunning underpass below Colo. 93
There are fewer places on earth more supportive of cycling than Boulder. And CU is no exception: They really, really want you to bike. With all the free services and discounts available to students, if you aren't cruising on two wheels, you have only your lazy-ass self to blame.
"We'll do anything we can to help people ride bikes," said Brandon Smith, assistant director of sustainable transportation at CU.
The campus maintains two (almost) full-service bike shops in the spring and summer. (They close due to cold weather from about Thanksgiving to early March.)
The technicians can handle almost any repair, and everything is free — provided you've registered your bike with the university, which is also free and will help police locate your bike in case it ever gets stolen.
"There's no reason not to register, really," Smith said. You even get a nifty little bike pouch made from recycled inner tubes from Green Guru when you do, and a coupon for half off a helmet, lock or light at Full Cycle.
Also free? Classes on how to repair your bike and 48-hour bike rentals for students. Semester-long rentals from the campus fleet of 200 bikes aren't free but cost only about as much as a day rental at a private bike shop.
If you plan on cycling around for a longer period of time, a good resource is Community Cycles. The nonprofit has a solid selection of repurposed bikes set up specifically for commuting.
Community Cycles also offers classes on safety and maintenance at a discounted rate for students, and can help with the application process for a key card that grants access (for free) to the city's bike lockers.
If CU's goal is to get you on a bike, "ours is to keep you on a bike," said Sue Prant, Community Cycles' executive director.
Another wish of Prant's? To keep you from being a dillhole on a bike.
"The biggest offenders of traffic rules on bikes are usually students," she said. "And everybody pays" because pissed-off drivers are less likely to be accommodating to cyclists or to support infrastructure for biking.
The top three offenses? Blowing through stop signs and lights, not signaling for turns or stops, and riding at night without lights — which the city gives away for free, so there's really no excuse not to have one.
Boulder County District Attorney Stan Garnett added a little something extra to Prant's advice: Don't drink and bike.
"Intoxicated biking is dealt with the same under Colorado law as drunk driving," he said. "The law equates a bike with a motor vehicle."
Garnett said his office prosecutes "a lot" of car vs. bike offenses. And no matter who is at fault, the collisions breed a lot of animosity between drivers and cyclists.
The way to combat that, he said, is to remember that the law applies to you whether you're on four wheels or two.
"When you're on your bike, you're an ambassador for biking," Prant added.
So keep it classy, kids. Boulder is watching.
Shay Castle: twitter.com/shayshinecastle