Really fat tires in Boulder


Everybody knows Boulder’s a great city for mountain biking, but I never realized there were even fatter tires on the Boulder Creek whitewater tubing course. All you need is a tire from the gas station on Arapahoe and Broadway, then head down to the creek at Eben G Fine Park, and take a wild ride.

If you’re visiting Boulder and want to explore the mountains on traditional fat tire, there’s a couple of options for renting one. Rob from Eventvue pointed me towards University Bicycles, right in the center of downtown on Pearl Street, but they were out of mountain bikes when I got there. They were kind enough to recommend the Boulder Bikesmith, about 1/2 mile from the city center, in the mall on the corner of Arapahoe and Folsom. They sorted me out with a Giant XTC1 in good condition, charging about $55 for two days. The lock and helmet were included, but there’s no cages on the pedals or bike computer, both of which I missed once I hit the climbs.

I had no clue where to go, so I hit the Boulder Book Store on Pearl Street and discovered Bicycling Boulder by Burt and Terry Struthers. This is a fantastic little guide to a whole bunch of local trails for road and mountain bikes, with short but clear descriptions, they’ve obviously spent a lot of time on the routes themselves. The only drawback is that their maps and elevation charts are obviously taken directly from their GPS systems, with a few very basic additions, so you may want to pick up a separate map. I didn’t, but there were a couple of points on my ride today where I was unsure if I was on the right path, and wished I had.

That evening I started out gently, taking the Boulder Creek trail. It runs alongside the stream for about 5 miles, from one end of Boulder to the other. With no street crossings and little grade it’s a smooth ride the whole way. It parallels Arapahoe, with ramps onto it from most of the side-street bridges that cross the creek.

Today I had some time free in the afternoon and wanted to go a bit further afield. I’d had lunch with Andy Sautins from Return Path, and he recommended the Poorman Road loop. In the Struthers book this is listed as a variant of the 9th ride on Sunshine Canyon, and is mostly asphalt with a couple of miles of gravel fire road. It’s close to town, so I was able to get to Mapleton Avenue and then continue west as it turned into Sunshine Canyon.

I had to ride 2.5 miles up the asphalt to reach the Poorman fire road. My misery index was fairly high on that uphill, it’s only a 1000 feet gain but felt like more. I felt a bit lost without my cadence meter to help me keep a steady pace, I was missing my clips for getting back power on the upstroke and could feel the altitude in my breathing. Once I got to the turnoff though, I was actually a bit sorry I wasn’t carrying on up to finish the other half of Sunshine Canyon. The view was beautiful and getting better, I’d found my groove with the climb, and hadn’t been passed by any other bikers (though maybe no one else was crazy enough to do the uphill in the afternoon heat!)

Poormans is a dirt road, but it’s in very good shape. It started off level, and then headed more steeply downhill, but it was so smooth I had an exhilarating descent for 2 miles, hardly touching the brakes. That led to the Four Mile Drive asphalt road, which the joined Boulder Creek Road and came back into town.

Tomorrow I’m thinking about attempting Walkers Ranch, with 3,200 feet of gain, so if this is my last post, you’ll know why…

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