They’re everywhere. You can hardly go a hundred feet without seeing one. You can’t help but notice their presence. I’m not talking about all the Dunkin Donuts franchises in New England. I’m referring to the cyclists in Boulder. This town is dripping with them and its only February. They ride cross bikes to the gym and work out as snow accumulates on the saddle. They ride mountain bikes to the grocery store. I saw a kid on some wierd thing that almost looked like a unicycle at the Pearl Street Mall.
I happened upon one masquerading as a skiier while navigating the trails at Copper Mountain on Saturday. He looked inconspicuous enough, from afar. But as I skiied closer I saw the telltale spandex leggings and the Descente jersey. My suspicions were confirmed when this roadie accused me of being “such a triathlete” as I side stepped my way down a harrowing descent. (And by harrowing I mean a 10 foot decline of about a 6% grade. Cut me some slack, it was my first time on cross-country skis). I accused him of being such a snob and pointed out that when all the snow melted and we were trapped in a flood, he could try and ride out on his Litespeed for all I cared, as I swam shark-like through the deep chilly waters.
Sunday I saw one waiting in line at the coffee shop. Legs freshly shaved, sporting a Pearl Izumi wicking t-shirt, I approached this fit middle aged guy, “I hate to bother you, but you look like a cyclist…” He confirmed my query as his ego swelled. I went on, “I just moved here and I really don’t know the area too well. Can you recommend a 20-30 mile loop?” He said he wouldn’t ride at all on a day like today, that the roads were too nasty and he was heading to the gym himself. (“The” gym? What does that mean??? There are like 800 gyms in a 5 mile radius). I went back to my coffee.
I left the shop and happened upon a young spandex-clad woman sitting outside the cafe. “Did you by any chance come here on a road bike?” I inquired. Indeed she had. I continued, “I hate to bug you but I just moved out here and I was wondering if there was a loop you would recommend?” She suggested I ride on the bike paths through town, endorsing them as a great way to learn the area. Yeah, this town has a bike lane on EVERY road if there isn’t a designated bike path next to the road. Yes, you read that right. You can go to the town’s website if you don’t believe me.
I hurried home to change, fill my water bottle and pump up my tires. Within a half hour I was riding down the road when in the distance I saw her, the very woman that encouraged me to take this ride. I was about 500 feet away but her white windbreaker and long ponytail were unmistakably hers. I chased her down within a few blocks and introduced myself. There was some confusion at first but we got things under control shortly. It turned out she was Pam too. Once we established that, she introduced me to her other friends and invited me to ride with them if I was up for a 2 hour ride. I figured I was and said I hoped I could hang on but if not, no big deal, I would find my way back. What I meant was “Oh my god thank you thank you thank you I am so grateful to have people to ride with, to learn a new route, and I will hang with you if my lungs end up in my eye sockets.” I kept up with them just fine. I learned where Niwot is and found out that Pam is practically my neighbor.
The moral of this story is… I’m not sure. I guess just that if, say, you meet someone on a bicycle vacation and you tell them you were thinking of moving to California, and they say, “Cali’s great but I think you would love Boulder, it’s the best town for cycling. Every road has a bike lane and you can access awesome climbs and great views from just about anywhere. Many employers even have showers on site to encourage you to bike to work. A lot of parents bike with their kids to school.” then you should believe them. And if you feel the need to see for yourself, you will not be disappointed.