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  1. #1
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    Ideal city in Colorado for Road Cycling "base camp"

    I want to do about 4-5 days of cycling in Colorado and am looking to find an ideal location to use as a "base camp". I'm looking for a location where I can do the following:

    1. 4-5 different loops or out and back road rides of about 50-80 miles
    2. great cycling roads with lots of climbing
    3. a location with some decent accommodations and restaurant options

    Any suggestions?

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    mje
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    Frisco

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    Yeah, Frisco is the best, there are probably 3-4 distinct very high quality longer rides (1 look, Copper Triangle, several o&b's), bunches of shorter ones in the lake basin, and it's in the heart of the mountains. The climbing isn't steep, but it's high and you really feel like you're in the mountains. Lots of other things within an hour or two drive if you have a car to start your ride - Independence Pass, Guanella Pass, Mt Evans, etc.

    If you want less altitude but more roads, these all have too many ride options to list.
    Boulder
    Evergreen
    S/W Denver (Ken Caryl)
    ...

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    thanks... I'll check out the posted rides on MapMyRide for each of those towns.

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    Senior Member robabeatle's Avatar
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    Iím in Boulder cycling this June and it is phenomenal. Rollers, steady climbs, ridiculous climbs, flats, epic day long journeys, dirt, etc.

    I also like that it is big enough to have good restaurants, grocery stores, etc.

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    cycling for 50 plus yrs colorado dale's Avatar
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    Agree with Frisco I would add Carbondale one day N thru glenwood springs and thru glenwood canyon , ... west up mclure pass, toward aspen and up Independence pass, toward aspen and up to Maroon Lake , towards aspen up to Ashcroft

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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Salida/Buena Vista

    Cottonwood Pass
    Monarch Pass
    Leadville and beyond
    Ride to St Elmo, etc.
    Crested Butte/Gunnison

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    For front-range riding, poke around on the RMCC web site for some ride ideas - some links on this page:
    http://www.rmccrides.com/challengeseries.html

    oh and this one:
    http://www.rmccrides.com/brevetpermanents.htm
    ...

  9. #9
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJMang View Post
    I want to do about 4-5 days of cycling in Colorado and am looking to find an ideal location to use as a "base camp". I'm looking for a location where I can do the following:

    1. 4-5 different loops or out and back road rides of about 50-80 miles
    2. great cycling roads with lots of climbing
    3. a location with some decent accommodations and restaurant options

    Any suggestions?
    Several of the places mentioned met part of your criteria but not all of it. Frisco, for example has okay accommodations and some resaurant options but the loops are limited. If you want to ride from your hotel door, I can think of only 3 rides of 50 to 80 miles that would be worth riding in the area. You could do the Copper Triangle but, if you are riding from Frisco, you are looking at 100 miles without any possibility of bailouts on the route. You could do a ride to the top of Loveland Pass but that's only 30 miles and some change. You could ride to the top of Hoosier Pass but that is also only 30 miles and some change. The only "loop" in the area other than the Copper Triangle is around Dillon Reservoir which, with a side trip to Breckenridge is also about 30 miles.

    Buena Vista offers more options (but is still limited on "loops") but the accommodations and restaurant options are severely limited.

    Durango offers more in the way of loops and challenging rides along with better accommodations and better restaurants but it is 7 hours from Denver.

    Quite frankly, if you want to meet all of your criteria, I'd suggest basing yourself in Denver proper. The Downtown area and the surrounding area boasts several great restaurants, good accommodations and an almost endless variety of loops of any length and difficulty you could want. For example if you were to stay in Downtown, you could ride out the 32/35 Ave corridor (relatively quiet streets) to the base of the Front Range and pick your poison. Lookout Mountain is a classic ride which can be extended by going over to Red Rocks. Or you could ride up to Echo Lake on Squaw Pass Road after climbing Lookout Mountain.

    Alternatively, you could start in Golden (there's light rail service almost to Golden), ride up Lookout over Squaw Pass and down into Idaho Springs then loop back to Golden on US40. If you are feeling like you still have some lung capacity, you could even detour to the top of Mt Evans (14240 feet) but I'd not suggest that on your first day.

    If you have a car, there are a number of loops that you can do within easy driving distance of Denver including the Copper Triangle (about 70 miles up I-70). There is a hidden gem up US 285 and down to the town of Pine. You ride Deckers Road and CO67 to Woodland Park and back. The road is a relatively quiet country road with some nasty bits along the way. You look down valley most of the time towards Pikes Peak on the way to Woodland Park. You could, if you don't mind riding 40 miles of smooth(ish) dirt road make a truly nasty loop out of it by coming back on Rampart Range Road.

    I've got dozens more including rides in southern Colorado that no one on the forums knows or thinks about because we in Colorado...including me...are very Denver/Summit County centric but I can point you towards lots of different rides.
    Stuart Black
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    cyccommute... thanks for the very thoughtful response. I'm driving from Santa Fe, so I'll have a car, and given that I live at 7400', I'm not concerned about elevation. You've given me lots to choose from. I think I'll find a place somewhere on the West side of Denver proper, say Boulder or Golden. Looks like staying in that vicinity will provide me with countless options. 5 days may not be nearly enough! I've always wanted to do Mt Evans, so that's on my potential ride list (too bad I can't do the race in July).

  11. #11
    cycling for 50 plus yrs colorado dale's Avatar
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    If you decide on greater Denver a must stop is REI Flagship downtown Warning !!!anyone into outdoor sports will get "lost" in the store for hours

  12. #12
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    that sounds like an advertisement... I used to live in Seattle, home of REI....

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    Cyyco & I disagree. Those "only 30 mile" rides can be extended as long as you want by just continuing on down the other side of the passes then turning around whenever you feel like. Yes, C.T. from Frisco is 100 miles, but since you have a car you can start at Copper ski resort and make it 70-ish.

    I don't know why you would want to come to CO and stay in a big messy city rather than ride in the mountains.

    At least go up to Summit County and do Copper Triangle.

    Mt Evans is a bucket list item for many, but it's not that nice of an actual ride, since the weather is generally horrible up there and the pavement is bad so the descent isn't fun. Trail Ridge Road in RMNP is a better high-altitude / bucket list item - start from Estes Park. THe roads west of Ken Carryl (SW Denver) are great. Boulder is great, but it's not "in" the mountains, it is right next to them. Lots of great riding.
    ...

  14. #14
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Buena Vista offers more options (but is still limited on "loops") but the accommodations and restaurant options are severely limited
    But Salida has many good eating and sleeping spots, plus a nice "atmosphere" - plays, etc. We have stayed several times at the Comfort Inn in Salida.

  15. #15
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJMang View Post
    cyccommute... thanks for the very thoughtful response. I'm driving from Santa Fe, so I'll have a car, and given that I live at 7400', I'm not concerned about elevation. You've given me lots to choose from. I think I'll find a place somewhere on the West side of Denver proper, say Boulder or Golden. Looks like staying in that vicinity will provide me with countless options. 5 days may not be nearly enough! I've always wanted to do Mt Evans, so that's on my potential ride list (too bad I can't do the race in July).
    Since you are coming from Santa Fe, I'd suggest you consider a ride in Trinidad as well. I'd suggest riding up Colorado 12 to Cuchara and back to Trinidad which is a 100 mile ride or start in Walsenburg and ride to Cuchara and back which is 70 miles. Both are beautiful rides through terrain that you won't see anywhere else. Personally, I think the Walsenburg route is more scenic.

    You might also want to consider some rides around Canon City. Hardscrabble Pass is a great century with, if you want, a ride over the Royal Gorge Bridge.

    By the way, don't get me wrong. DnvrFox and valygrl ride ideas are good rides. Trail Ridge Road is a great ride and you should consider it. Some of the riding around Buena Vista is very nice too. It just that getting to rides as widely separated as the Copper Triangle, Deckers area, Trail Ridge Road, etc involves less hassle when starting in the Denver/Golden area then trying to start just about anywhere else. Just getting from Boulder to Copper Mountain is a major headache.
    Last edited by cyccommute; 06-06-13 at 03:45 PM.
    Stuart Black
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    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
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  16. #16
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    Cyyco & I disagree. Those "only 30 mile" rides can be extended as long as you want by just continuing on down the other side of the passes then turning around whenever you feel like. Yes, C.T. from Frisco is 100 miles, but since you have a car you can start at Copper ski resort and make it 70-ish.

    I don't know why you would want to come to CO and stay in a big messy city rather than ride in the mountains.

    At least go up to Summit County and do Copper Triangle.

    Mt Evans is a bucket list item for many, but it's not that nice of an actual ride, since the weather is generally horrible up there and the pavement is bad so the descent isn't fun. Trail Ridge Road in RMNP is a better high-altitude / bucket list item - start from Estes Park. THe roads west of Ken Carryl (SW Denver) are great. Boulder is great, but it's not "in" the mountains, it is right next to them. Lots of great riding.
    But even you have to admit that there are only 3 "good" rides around Frisco. And Hoosier Pass isn't all that "good". You could extend the ride across Loveland Pass to Georgetown and back but the ride from the Loveland Pass exit to Georgetown isn't all that great either. I suppose you could ride down CO9 to Heeney and back but I wouldn't classify that as a "good" ride.

    I agree that the Copper Triangle is a good ride it's not that far a drive to get there and you want to start in Copper Mountain anyway.

    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    But Salida has many good eating and sleeping spots, plus a nice "atmosphere" - plays, etc. We have stayed several times at the Comfort Inn in Salida.
    I said Buena Vista. Salida is a bit better but, really, compared to the Denver area?
    Stuart Black
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    Days of Wineless Roads. Bed and Breakfasting along the KATY
    Twisting Down the Alley. Misadventures in tornado alley.
    An Good Ol' Fashion Appalachian Butt Whoopin'.

  17. #17
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cyccommute View Post
    But even you have to admit that there are only 3 "good" rides around Frisco. And Hoosier Pass isn't all that "good". You could extend the ride across Loveland Pass to Georgetown and back but the ride from the Loveland Pass exit to Georgetown isn't all that great either. I suppose you could ride down CO9 to Heeney and back but I wouldn't classify that as a "good" ride.

    I agree that the Copper Triangle is a good ride it's not that far a drive to get there and you want to start in Copper Mountain anyway.



    I said Buena Vista. Salida is a bit better but, really, compared to the Denver area?
    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    Salida/Buena Vista

    Cottonwood Pass
    Monarch Pass
    Leadville and beyond
    Ride to St Elmo, etc.
    Crested Butte/Gunnison


    And I originally suggested Salida/Buena Vista. You put down Buena Vista. I again suggested Salida. And, yes, it is better than Denver as a base for bicycling, IMHO.

  18. #18
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DnvrFox View Post
    And I originally suggested Salida/Buena Vista. You put down Buena Vista. I again suggested Salida. And, yes, it is better than Denver as a base for bicycling, IMHO.
    That's your opinion and you are welcome to it.

    But from the standpoint of variety, number of possible loops and ease of access, Denver stands head and shoulders above the Arkansas River Valley for the same reason it's better than Frisco. Both areas are just too constrained for very many loops. You can do a lot of out and backs but not too many true loop rides of the length that RJMang was asking for and even the number of out and backs are limited. Cottonwood Pass, Monarch and Leadville are really the only ones in the valley and all but Cottonwood entail lots of riding on US50 or US24 which are major roads. I'd not suggest riding to St Elmo unless you have a mountain bike either.

    RJMang: The Arkansas River Valley and the Frisco area are a bit like Taos...slightly constrained by mountains. Most of the roads lead into and out of the valleys with only limited options for looping around. The Denver area is more like Santa Fe. You can go to places like Taos but there are more options for more loops around the hills to the west of Denver (and not a few nice rides out on the plains around Denver). Ultimately it's up to you but Denver ain't bad.
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  19. #19
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    lived in crested butte for awhile in late 90's and that is a beautiful area. how about colorado springs area, you want a hill climb pikes peak. c.s. is smaller than denver but you can ride in any direction and get what you want. things to see in area are pikes peak, garden of the gods, and air force academy.

  20. #20
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    I like the ideas of Frisco, Salida and Colorado Springs. Don't like the idea of Denver, that is why on weekends you see car after car with bikes attached LEAVING Denver.

    Another very good option is Montrose. Fantastic rides in all directions and a good size town with cafes and lodging. Close to Ouray, Telluride and the Gunnison River valley, what's not to love.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  21. #21
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  22. #22
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    OP - SO MANY great choices!! I would guess that if you are coming to Colorado you would want to stay, see and ride in the mountains. Maybe stay here a month?

    Anyway, whatever the choice, have fun.

  23. #23
    cycling for 50 plus yrs colorado dale's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RJMang View Post
    that sounds like an advertisement... I used to live in Seattle, home of REI....
    then you need to check Denver's REI flagship out I have heard some people feel Denver's rei is better than seattle's I do not work for rei or own any rei stock

  24. #24
    Mad bike riding scientist cyccommute's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty View Post
    I like the ideas of Frisco, Salida and Colorado Springs. Don't like the idea of Denver, that is why on weekends you see car after car with bikes attached LEAVING Denver.
    But you see car after car after car with bikes streaming back INTO Denver when the weekend is over. The reason? Places to stay and places to eat. And, honestly, not everyone leaves Denver as evidenced by the hordes of bicycles on the roads today.

    Let's get this straight, however, I'd not saying that RJMang should do too many rides within the the Metro area. I'd suggest one...the ride up Lookout Mountain and over to Red Rocks...but if you want to get to good riding from a central location, Metro Denver is hard to beat. It's relatively easy to get to Trail Ridge Road and the Copper Triangle and Leadville and Colorado Springs (although riding in the Springs is very much like riding in Denver) and just about anywhere else you want to mention in the state. If you were to base in Boulder or Colorado Springs or Buena Vista or Frisco, getting to other areas is a hassle that involves more driving. Would you like to ride a bike or drive a car?
    Stuart Black
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    Picking the Scablands. Washington and Oregon, 2005. Pie and spiders on the Columbia River!
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    Thanks everyone for your thoughts, your time, and you obvious passion (and opinions!) about cycling in the Denver area. I think this topic has run its course, but I honestly and genuinely appreciate all of your input.

    I'm looking forward to some great CO cycling.

    [However, "colorado dale", your promotion of REI was inappropriate and way off-topic... plus, it's only possible to have one "flagship"]

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