On most Tuesdays and Thursdays and some Saturdays, a team of bikers meets to explore Colorado’s network of trails.
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The group connects at a coffee shop in downtown Denver. When the weather isn’t too hot, it’s after work around 4 or 5 p.m. In the dead of summer, it’s usually in the morning.
They sip on espresso and decide where they want to ride that day. It could be on the bike lanes of Denver, the 36 Bikeway to Boulder, the Platte River Trail to Brighton or other suburbs. Most of the time, it involves a stop along the way.
“We would go down the Platte River Trail to the C 470 trail and then Krispy Kremes along there. We call it the Krispy 50. It’s a 50-mile loop,” said Ted Schultz, one of the riders in the group.
The group started after Schultz and two colleagues in his office space decided to start riding together after work. Schultz rode with a few others and combined the two groups.
After the ride, they go to a brewery to catch up with one another and relax after the ride.
Part of the reason the group exists is due to Colorado’s extensive bike trail infrastructure. Schultz said it’s only improved in the past two decades.
“When you add up the miles of really good trails, it's just mind-boggling,” he said.
Schultz, who grew up in Colorado, said understanding for cyclists sharing the road and building more infrastructure has vastly grown. In the 70s and 80s, he could almost count on angry driver backlash during his rides. Now, not so much.
Much of that may be due to more focus on improving trails and streets.
The Denver Regional Council of Governments built a map that shows all the trails and bike lanes across the region. They stretch all the way from Boulder to Clear Creek to Castle Rock.
And more may be coming. The Greenhouse Gas Planning Standard, a new rule adopted by the Transportation Commission of Colorado in December 2021, requires agencies to measure greenhouse gas emissions from transit projects, with limits on how high those emissions go.
With bike infrastructure providing the option for drivers to ditch their cars and bike, it can reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Jacob Riger, multimodal transportation planning manager for the Denver Regional Council of Governments, said his group has already modified its 2050 Metro Vision Regional Transportation Plan based on the rule.
Emily Lindsey, active and emerging mobility program manager for DRCOG, said people are ready. Of the 15 million daily trips in the region, 43% are less than three miles and 19% are less than one mile.
“So, super bikeable, even more so with e-bikes,” she said.
Chris Chen, one of the riders in the group, noted that some improvements are needed. Chen, who lives in Littleton, said there aren’t many bike lanes.
He said either more need to be added or there need to be wider shoulders. He also said more education about how to share the road with bikers needs to be implemented, citing the death of Gwen Inglis in 2021.
Inglis was a national champion who was struck and killed by a driver in Lakewood.
“It’s been so long since I took the driver’s test, but I don’t know if they have incorporated anything into that,” Chen said.
He explained that it's scary when vehicles go by fast, especially semi-trucks. The trucks, going fast enough, will push air to the side, which pushes the cyclist, but then will suck the air back in, bringing the cyclist in with it.
“If it’s really close, it’s really scary, not only the sounds of it and in the nearness of that fast-moving object, but the air actually pulling you in,” Chen said.
Compared to other places, Anthony Harvey, another member of the group, said the bike infrastructure ranks higher than the places he’s seen, including Texas, California and Chicago.
The group ranges in age. Chen is one of the younger ones in his 40s with some of the older riders in their 60s. Meaning, biking is an activity for all abilities and ages.
Chen said he used to be a swimmer. But he didn’t like the fact he had to drive to the pool before 5 a.m. to be at practice in time.
That was too early for him, so he stopped swimming and started cycling more. Not only did it satisfy as a workout, but also was more convenient.
“I can combine commuting and exercise all together,” Chen said.
Then he joined the group and it became a lot more fun. It was a way for him to make new friends, destress and get a workout. It also reminds him of his childhood.
“It’s the feeling of when you’re a little kid and you’re going fast and you’re like ‘this is awesome.’” Chen said. “It still feels like that. That sense of freedom.”
Harvey said he got into biking after he was injured from MMA competitions and decided to switch sports. He participates in various races.
“I was able to actually race with bikes and can also stay fit,” he said.
While the biking brings the group together, the camaraderie keeps them pedaling. Schultz, Chen and Harvey all talked about the importance of keeping up with each other, not just on the trail.
Each friend rides on their own and sees the benefits of being alone. But with the group, they push each other to go faster and further and gives a chance to connect over a topic each is passionate about.
After each ride, they stop at a brewpub or a bar, with Chen’s recommendation for one with a food truck.
“That's when we can catch up on trips and things happening with the family and what new gadgets people have,” Chen said. “That kind of stuff.”
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