I'm REALLY late in posting this one. For no real reason I decided to go for a "long" bike ride last Tuesday in Denver. I wasn't real sure where to go but I knew I wanted to stay on bike trails as much as possible. So, I went to Barnes & Noble, grabbed a cycling Denver book and did some research.
The longest option seemed to be the C-470 bike path. It follows most of C-470 around the city. Problem is, it seemed really open and not real scenic. There was also the Platte River trail and the Cherry Creek trail. Hmm, those looked better, but both involved taking the C-470 trail to get to.
So, what did I do? All three, of course.
I started out in Highlands Ranch and headed to the C-470 trail. This involved all road riding, not fun for me. Especially not fun when during part of the trip I got my front tire caught in a crack in the road that was just wide enough for the tire to fit in. Yeah, almost wiped out in traffic. That would have been bad.
I took the C-470 trail East to get to the Cherry Creek Reservoir, at which point I'd take the Cherry Creek Trail into downtown Denver. The ride along 470 going East is pretty dammed boring. It's all highway so it's noisy and smelly and just not fun. Also, the trail crosses several busy streets, so you can't ride continuously, you have to stop and wait at crosswalks. And these were not pedestrian or bike-friendly intersections.
Anyways, I made it in one piece to Cherry Creek Reservoir and stopped and ate lunch. By this point I was only like 25 miles into the ride and didn't really have my heart set on any particular distance. I just wanted to make it downtown.
I was really surprised at how desert-like the area East of Denver was. It was extremely dry and there were very few trees. Not really an area I'd want to live in. Also, the mountains seemed so far away, it was almost sad. I'm definitely not a fan of the East side of Denver.
After eating I headed towards downtown on the Cherry Creek trail. I was headed to Confluence Park, where Cherry Creek dumps into the Platte River. It was an excellent ride. The path was nice and generally shaded and not a lot of people were out so I could move pretty quickly on the bike.
I hung out at Confluence Park for a bit, just relaxing. There were people out doing random stuff, people playing in the river, etc. It was really nice.
Leaving Confluence Park I headed South back towards Highlands Ranch. The entire path follows the Platte River. You get pretty decent views of downtown during the first part of the ride. The entire ride is nice. Once I got into Littleton I came across this coffee shop that was only on the trail - not on the street. It was just for folks who were out running or biking to stop and get a drink and relax. It was awseome. I really wish we had stuff like that here in KC.
Once I got back to the C-470 trail I figured I'd head back towards Highlands Ranch but I looked at my odomoter and saw that I'd done about 60 miles. I started thinking that it would be cool to say I did 100 miles in a day. It's always bad when I get ideas like that in my head. So...I took a right instead of a left on the C-470 trail and headed West.
God, the trail sucked at this point. It was cracked and someone did a piss-poor job of sealing the cracks. The tar would get on your tires and would just suck. Argh, it still pisses me off.
Finally, near Golden, I turned right onto a trail that follows 285 East back towards the Platte River Trail. This trail was interesting also. It was pretty well maintained, except for random parts that would go through parking lots. Very odd.
I headed back South on the Platte River trail, again, and made it to Highlands Ranch in generally one piece. The weather was getting bad towards the end of the ride and I was getting worried about being caught out in a rainstorm and not having a lot of energy left. Luckily I made it back to Chris's before it started raining.