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MTB routes - Denver area

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MTB routes - Denver area

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Old 03-28-18, 11:50 AM
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Alan_F
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MTB routes - Denver area

Is there anyone on the forum with experience off-road tandeming in the Denver area?

We're going to be travelling to Denver in a few months to pick up two new tandems from DaVinci - a road tandem and a full suspension MTB, and then spend about a week riding them in the Front Range. There is an abundance of information online about good road rides but I'd rather have tandem-specific advice in selecting off-road routes.

I'm looking for 2 or 3 rides starting within an hour's drive of downtown Denver that would each take maybe 2 to 4 hours to complete and that are not too technical. We've been riding tandems for about 24 years, but only riding off-road for a couple of years and are at best advanced beginners at off-road riding. One of the routes should probably be shorter and flatter since we'll need to take it easy for the first few days to acclimate to the altitude.

Any suggestions?
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Old 03-28-18, 04:02 PM
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I'm sure there are others who will have some good suggestions for you. I just thought I could provide you the Rails-to-Trails link (https://www.traillink.com/state/co-trails/) for Colorado as there are several routes from very short to longer stretches of path. They vary from gravel and dirt to concrete, but it would give you an idea of some of what's around. If you're headed into the mountains be forewarned that many trails are rocky (hence the Rocky Mountains name, I suppose ). If you're not in to more technical stuff, staying at lower levels will help avoid that somewhat (of course, this is still dependent on where you ride too, as there are lots of rocky lower altitude spots as well).

If you're not used to higher altitude, remember to take it easy your first couple of days and drink lots of water (many people complain of headaches when they arrive to our lovely state and it's usually due to dehydration). Sounds like you'll be coming at a lovely time of year when things should be green once again. Enjoy your trip and picking up your new tandem bicycles!
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Old 03-29-18, 11:11 AM
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I ride a mountain bike, a road bike and a road tandem but not a mountain tandem. So, my recommendations come without first hand experience.

Centennial Cone is a moderate mountain loop just west of Denver (up Clear Creek Canyon). It is about a 13 mile loop. Most of it would probably be pretty doable on a tandem. However, check the schedule as it alternates weekend days between bikes and no-bikes.

Another easy suggestion is the Highline Canal Trail. It is a hard-packed gravel road that follows an old irrigation canal. It can be quite scenic and wanders all over the Denver area. You can start & finish most anywhere along its length (and return). There is almost no elevation change along the road and you are away from cars for almost all of the trail.
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Old 03-29-18, 11:27 AM
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You might try the Dirty Bismark, which is (partially) located in Superior (between Denver & Boulder): https://www.mtbproject.com/trail/255931/dirty-bismark
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Old 06-05-18, 03:55 PM
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OP - Have you already come to visit? We ride mtb tandem and live in the area. Let me know if you are still looking for advice.
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Old 06-05-18, 04:52 PM
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Golden Gate

I rode in Golden Gate Canyon State Park outside of Broomfield several yiears ago. Although I was on my single, if memory serves, this might be a good spot to try. That said, I'm sure DaVinci has some excellent recommendations since they're located and delivering tandems in Denver.

We've ridden Trail 401 in Crested Butte on the tandem. Challenging but flowing single track. Hermosa Creek above Durango as well. Also fast, fun and not too technical. (I did bottom out the captain chainring in one spot though, so be advised.)

A few things about mountain tandeming;
1) You can't really go over the bars (within typical parameters). Just keep the wheel straight ahead, body centered, knees and elbows bent, and you can clean a LOT of stuff that you might not on a single.
2) Unloading the wheels to navigate technical terrain is VERY challenging. So this is the main caveat. On a single bike, a rider is constantly lifting wheels and shifting weight to navigate technical terrain. This is very challenging on a tandem. I can bunny hop the tandem, but it's of little use because the wheel base is so long, you can't possibly clear an obstacle in one jump. That said, I can unweight the front wheel enough to hop up onto an obstacle. But it takes anticipation, opportunity, warning the stoker and coordination.
3) Do NOT make sudden direction changes while descending technical terrain. Better to go straight ahead and hope for the best (within limits, of course). Othwerwise, taco'ing a front wheel is a possibility. I know this because I've done it! However, this was on a 20 year old tandem with a very non-ideal front wheel. It was a narrow rim on a free wheel that I had received and decided to use. Turned hard left in the last second navigating some stair-step drop-offs when our forward momentum folded the wheel over. We were in a race, I was getting fatigued and sloppy. I knew I was pressing my luck when it happened. However, today's wider, beefier rims and wider tires make it less likely.

But that's about it. Again, I'm sure DaVinci will have lots of ideas for you. Look into The Colorado Trail. What I've seen of it looks totally accessible by tandem. However, it's long and I'm sure varied, so check local conditions.

Good luck and congrats on the two new bikes. Exciting!
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Old 06-06-18, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by colotandem View Post
OP - Have you already come to visit? We ride mtb tandem and live in the area. Let me know if you are still looking for advice.

Yes, we were out there for the last week of May and are back home now. We ended up riding the Dirty Bismark route suggested above, plus North Table Mountain, Green Mountain / Hayden Park, and Bear Creek Lake Park on our MTB rides. Now we're waiting for the MTB to be shipped to us back home and for the local trails to try so we can try it out here. The views from the mountain trails in the Front Range were outstanding. From the top of the trail at Green Mountain we could see Red Rocks nearby, plus Pike's Peak and Mount Evans in the distance. Back home we mostly ride in the woods so most of the time all you see is the trees. Of course that also means we get shade which was pretty scarce on the Colorado trails we rode.
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Old 06-08-18, 03:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Alan_F View Post
Yes, we were out there for the last week of May and are back home now. We ended up riding the Dirty Bismark route suggested above, plus North Table Mountain, Green Mountain / Hayden Park, and Bear Creek Lake Park on our MTB rides. Now we're waiting for the MTB to be shipped to us back home and for the local trails to try so we can try it out here. The views from the mountain trails in the Front Range were outstanding. From the top of the trail at Green Mountain we could see Red Rocks nearby, plus Pike's Peak and Mount Evans in the distance. Back home we mostly ride in the woods so most of the time all you see is the trees. Of course that also means we get shade which was pretty scarce on the Colorado trails we rode.
Bummer that I was late to this thread. You rode withing 1/2 mile of our house when you were at North Table Mountain! That is our go to morning ride (before work in the summer time). Yes, the views are quite nice. I would have sent you to a couple of rides within 45 minutes of the rides that you did and you could have had some proper mountain riding (in the trees). Oh well. If you're ever back in the area, direct message me and we'll give you a local tour. I am not on this forum much anymore...

Also, welcome to the mtb tandem world!!!
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Old 06-11-18, 10:42 AM
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Originally Posted by colotandem View Post
Bummer that I was late to this thread. You rode withing 1/2 mile of our house when you were at North Table Mountain! That is our go to morning ride (before work in the summer time). Yes, the views are quite nice. I would have sent you to a couple of rides within 45 minutes of the rides that you did and you could have had some proper mountain riding (in the trees). Oh well. If you're ever back in the area, direct message me and we'll give you a local tour. I am not on this forum much anymore...

Also, welcome to the mtb tandem world!!!

When we rode N Table we met up with Vincent and Lisa who must be your neighbors. We rode right from their house to the trail.
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