Cycling in Boulder, Colorado - things you need to go before you go! Back to top
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Cycling Boulder, Colorado: the essentials

Cycling in Boulder, Colorado has become legendary - it's one of the few places outside Europe that's become somewhere every serious road cyclist feels they need to visit.

Boulder is somewhere with cycle racing pedigree, and perhaps that's part of the enduring appeal. In the heyday of North American racing, Boulder held the Red Zinger Bicycle Classic and later the internationally famous Coors Classic, which was won by both Le Mond and Davis Phinney. 

Today there may be less pro racing, but amateur road cycling remains strong, with plenty of bike shops, cycling clubs, group rides and cycling-friendly accommodation to serve the local and tourist cycling community. 

In this article, Epic Road Rides reader Brad Brown, a passionate road cyclist based in Boulder, shares everything from the best Boulder bike routes to the best bike shops in Boulder.

If you've heard about cycling in Boulder and are trying to decide if it's for you, read on! 

Q&A with Brad Brown

Boulder cycling routes

Colorado is well-known for its cycling obsession and Boulder, Colorado is the cycling epicenter of the state (and indeed the USA). 

There is a reason there are more professional cyclists per capita here than any other city in the USA! Several of the USA's best cyclists have lived and trained on the long climbs and thin air of Colorado, including Tyler Hamilton and Andy Hampsten. 

From the endless web of dedicated bike paths within the city to the incredible quad burning climbs up any of the canyons, cycling in Boulder is more than a way of life here - it’s built in the city’s DNA.

There are views for miles anywhere you ride and countless famous rides/routes around the greater Boulder area. That is one of the great things about living here - it’s challenging to ride the same route twice in a season! 


What's the most famous climb in the Boulder region?

The single most epic climb in the area is Mount Evans. 

I get the chills just thinking about it.

Mount Evans is the highest paved road in North America, which means it is the highest altitude us roadies can climb. It is not for the faint of heart; a 27-mile climb with 6,500ft of climbing to 14,200ft above sea level (there is a parking lot half way up for those looking for a little less).

At that elevation, there are only a few days per year that are ride-able making it even more pristine and satisfying. You get a little bit of everything on this ride; switchbacks, steep segments, perfectly paved roads, pine forests, and once you get above the tree line there are unparalleled views of the surrounding mountains.

A quick break at the top for some pictures and catch your breath, then a fast, easy, non-technical descent back down.

For anyone who enjoys checking “the highest” off their list, this is a must do.

Here's my Mount Evans Strava route in case it's useful. 

Cyclists cycling up Mount Evans

On the way up Mount Evans

Cyclist at the top of Mount Evans

Summit sign on Mount Evans

Cyclists who have cycled to the top of Mount Evans Summit Colorado

At the top!


What’s the Boulder cycling route that not many people know about?

A local secret is to casually ride on the popular bike paths through and around Boulder.

It’s a never ending web that if you navigate successfully, creates a scenic loop around town and gets you to some of Boulder’s most popular spots. Boulder is a city ripe with culture and personal expression that clearly shows in every aspect of life. In the summer, end your ride at the Farmer’s Market, next to the refreshing Boulder Creek, for some local specialties that make any ride worth it.

Boulder was named the No. 1 city in the U.S. for biking by People for Bikes and one of the Top 13 Cycling Cities in the U.S. by the Travel Channel - and in my opinion, it's bike paths are a big part of why it's won these awards.

It's also worth knowing that Boulder has a bike-sharing program with around 50 cycle kiosks located around town. You can take a bike for 30 minutes or less, ride wherever you'd like and return it to any of the kiosks when you're finished.


What's your favourite cycling route in the Boulder region?

Without a doubt, my favorite route (with some good climbing) is Peak to Peak highway.

It is a scenic route at 10,000ft through the mountains.

A large, brand new bike lane makes for a conversational 40mph while rolling through the peaks and valleys. There are a few ways to get to Peak to Peak. For the bold that involves about 5,000ft of climbing over 15 miles, but it is just as easily accessible by car. The views of the surrounding mountain peaks are stunning and there are numerous small mountain towns to stop and enjoy a delicious snack.

Here's my St Vrain and Peak to Peak loop on Strava (it's also know as the Ward-Lyons loop). There's a screenshot of the route below.

Peak to Peak Highway GPX route

This route also takes in some of the Peak to Peak Highway.

I also love this route out from the north of Boulder.

Picking just one favorite route is hard - as you can see!  


Any tips for Cycling events in Boulder?

As a result of this strong pro cycling scene, there's a lot of local racing including midweek crits, cyclo-cross and mountain bike races.

My personal favorite is probably one of the more epic amateur rides in the country. It's called the Triple Bypass and involves 120 miles and 10,000ft of climbing over three mountain passes (each one is at 12,000ft above sea level). It's a grueling but fantastic day.

Another one would be Ride the Rockies. It's a 7 day stage race with stages between 40 and 100 miles with tons of climbing through the rocky mountains. It's a must do for anyone wanting to do an amateur Tour de France!

A few other ones (not as epic) would be the Copper Triangle, Elephant Rock, The Denver Century, and the Boulder Ironman 70.3.

You really can't beat cycling here!

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The views on Peak to Peak Highway are unprecedented

From the top of Bear Peak overlooking Boulder

Just your average sunrise in Boulder

Where to stay in Boulder

Hands down, any AirBnB or VRBO house or apartment you can find up in the mountains will be a winner. I have seen anything from french chateaus to tree house rentals!

As long as you are up in the mountains, you won’t be disappointed. It is not hard to find seclusion to recharge and then be right back in the thick of it. There are a dozen mountain towns and associated ski resorts that are a blast in the winter and the summer.

Bike shops + rentals in Boulder

Boulder has some of the best bike shops in the country; you’re bound to find one that fits your vibe. 


Boulder Bike shops

One of the most popular bike shops in Boulder is Full Cycle, which is the town's oldest bike shop (established 1982). It also has a coffee shop and bar alongside.

For those that like that kind of thing, the town also has a Rapha store, where you can shop and sip espresso. 

Other options:

Boulder Cycle Sport: Provide sales and servicing from two different locations in Boulder.

Boulder Grupetto: Another service shop this time located in North Boulder.

Colorado Multisport: Offers everything from sales and servicing to bike fitting and training.  

House of Spin: A high end, service-only bike shop with a European racing twist. You can watch the races, have a beer or espresso and have your bike repaired.

Trek Bicycle Boulder: Selling bikes, equipment and apparel.

University Bicycles: Bike shop in the heart of downtown. They offer parts, apparel, bike fitting and have a demo bike service. There's even a vending machine outside if they're closed!

Vecchio's Bicicletteria: An old-school cool bike shop that can help you with servicing and custom builds.


Boulder bike rentals

Full Cycle, Boulder Cycle Sport and University Bikes each offer a wide range of bike rentals. Just check before you visit in case Covid has interrupted services. 

In case it helps for getting around, as mentioned above, Boulder also has a bike sharing scheme: Bcycle.

The beloved Flatirons

A quick trail run or hike up Mt. Sanitas is a must-do

Morning spin up Golden Gate Canyon soothes the soul

When to go

Denver has 300 days of sun per year with mild winters and summers so there really is not a bad time to visit at all.

If I had to pick, I would chose the summer as the mountains as a playground cannot be beat. Be aware that July and August can get seriously hot though!

In winter, Boulder is a feeder town for a number of ski resorts and many of the higher mountain loop rides tend to be no-go due to snow. However, the flatter roads on the Colorado plateau are usually still good for riding - though you'll need to wrap up nice and warm!

Mountain biking, road biking, hiking, rock climbing, stunning views, and the food are all unmatched. Come for a long weekend or come for a lifetime and you will find happiness.

Tips and articles

Where is Boulder and how do I get there?

Boulder is a large, bustling town that lies north-west of Denver in the state of Colorado. It's on the western side of the mile-high Colorado plateau at the foot of the Rocky Mountains. It's the web of road that passes through these foothills that gives Boulder its charm.

Boulder is a 45 minute drive from Denver International Airport along Highway 36. There are public buses and private shuttles if you don't want to hire a car.

The struggle bus going up Sunshine Canyon (up to 18% grade)

Views from the popular Lee Hill are stunning

Proof I got to the top!

Tell me more about the pro cycling scene in Boulder

For decades, Boulder has been the road bike capital of the USA and at the centre of the USA's cycling scene. It even featured in the classic movie American Flyers!

Amongst the first well-known pros to arrive on the scene were David Phinney, Ron Kiefel and many of the 7-Eleven team. Giro d'Italia winner, Andy Hampsten, sealed Boulder's reputation (certainly in Europe's eyes anyway!), owning a house in Boulder and training there while in the USA. 

Boulder is home to the University of Colorado, which has a very well-known sports science department with much specialist expertise in cycling. Many of the local pros are monitored there and many also studied there.

The climate, high altitude location and access to long climbs make it a pro cyclist's paradise.


Is there anything that visitors shouldn't miss while in Boulder?

While the Denver area and surrounding mountains are undeniably a good time, Boulder is an incredibly unique micro-environment packed with culture. It is almost impossible to pick one thing you “have to do” while visiting. Spend a week or two exploring what Boulder has to offer and you won’t be disappointed.

There are endless amounts of hikes and nature walks with shockingly good views of Boulder and Denver suitable for any and all ages/skill levels. Within 5 minutes of downtown Boulder, you can be at a number of trailheads of varying lengths and difficulties leading to said views.

For the non-outdoorsy partners, a leisurely stroll down Pearl Street on a summer’s night shows Boulder’s culture both in people and in food selection.

If you like your beer, you'll undoubtedly also be pleased to hear that Colorado has more microbreweries than anywhere else in the US. Find yourself a bike-labelled microbrew in the evening, kick back and relax!


What's your advice for coffee stops in Boulder?

Amante Coffee in North Boulder (aka NoBo) is a perfect spot to start and end any and all rides. Many group rides use it as their home base. It has fun outdoor seating and caters to cyclists.

Also, Flower Child is a unique atmosphere with the most comprehensive and delicious plant-based menu I have ever seen. Their Mother Earth bowl fits the vibe of Boulder perfectly and is a delicious way to end the day.

For those wanting more of an adult beverage - a few miles south in Golden, there is the Coors plant, where they will take you on a great tour and tasting that will satisfy just about anyone.


What are your tips for someone cycling in/around Boulder for the first time?

The number one thing I'd say is ride with someone or a group who knows the local routes. The web of bike paths can get confusing and there are hidden ones that are fun to discover. The climbs into the mountains are much more enjoyable with friends. The best post-ride spots are often off the beaten path and knowing a local is a huge help.

Luckily, there are so many cyclists, it’s easy to start a ride and follow along to meet new friends and get to know the area.

Or you could find a group ride - more on that below.


Boulder cycling clubs/group rides

There are lots of places to find group rides in Boulder. As a starting point, you could head over to Full Cycle bike shop, who run weekly shop rides. Amante Coffee is also a common meeting spot - if you head over on a Saturday morning you're bound to find people to ride with. Same goes for Brewer's Market. 

There are also numerous cycling clubs in Boulder for all ages, genders and skill levels. There are some groups that cater to women as well as another for over 60 year olds. It is fun to see the groups ride on their ride days. In terms of contacting the clubs, Boulder Cycling Club group on Strava is a good place to start. The University also has a biking club but I've heard they are pretty intense (maybe not for novices). 



A big thank you to Brad for sharing this really helpful information about planning a cycling trip to Boulder, Colorado.

If you head over to Boulder, we hope you have a great time! Please comment below to share your experiences and any extra tips for cycling in Boulder/Colorado.


Want more cycling destination inspiration?

Check out our USA page for more spectacular cycling destinations in the USA. Our Mexico guides might also be of interest.

Alternatively head to our main cycling destinations page for firsthand tips on where to ride. 


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