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  1. #1
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    4 days in CO, End of August, Start/Finish Denver, Solo. Advice Needed

    I've been digging in these forums for a while now and I've got a ton of useful info from you all, thanks so much! I bet the questions about visiting Colorado get old for you guys, but you are the best to ask so please bear with me.

    If you had 4 days to ride anywhere in Colorado (within 5-6 hrs of Denver) where would you go and what trails would you ride? Solo.

    I will be going to Denver for a conference for work Monday to Thursday August 23rd. Thursday, I will be shuttled back to Denver Airport and will get a rental car until Tuesday August 28th.

    The catch is that I will be traveling and riding completely solo. So any trails that have a good amount of people, or aren't too remote would probably be best. I an intermediate rider, I really enjoy some tech here and there but mostly love fast and flowy singletrack. I don't mind climbing but I'm definitely not the quickest though my endurance is decent (who knows at your altitude though! ha). I do prefer descending but don't mind putting in the work to climb to see gorgeous views and get to fun descents.

    I plan on riding pretty conservatively; the last thing I want is to get in over my head all by myself and in unfamiliar territory!

    I can travel anywhere in Colorado, but I am thinking of not straying too far off of the 70 or the Front Range for convenience and don’t really want to drive for more than 3-4 hours/day. I’ll stay at places along the way to ride the next morning (Any suggestions, hehe). I have always wanted to ride in Crested Butte (the photos are GORGEOUS!) but that's not looking too promising with it being a solo trip and all.

    I am thinking that maybe sticking to the Bike Parks might be my best bet in terms of safety. Although the whole point of riding in Colorado for me is how GORGEOUS it is! I'd love to ride a trail that I am just in awe of all the natural beauty (haha which might be any trail in CO to this socal girl, LOL!). Some ideas I'm tossing around: I think for sure Winter/Trestles Park on Saturday, I could do the Front Range -maybe Golden? Boulder? Colorado Springs? I want to do Salida (one of the Monarch Crest shuttles). Aspen?? Vail? I am pretty open to any and all ideas though!

    So Main Questions:

    -Trails/Routes that are both Must-Do Colorado Rides and also solo rider friendly (easy to navigate, not TOO much tech, not too remote, etc)?

    -Any mtb guides or companies for the solo rider (unfortunately, most of the well-known mtb tours are not occurring during my dates, that would be too easy, ha!) that you can recommend?

    -Good LBS to call for info? From what I’ve read on this forum, Golden Bike shop and Absolute Bikes in Salida are good ones to contact. I’ll prob need to rent bikes (which is sad because I’ll miss my pivot 5.7). Any recommendations for really helpful/friendly LBS along the way that I could contact/shop at?

    I hope I am not asking too much but I am in heavy-duty research mode (I’ve read through to Oct 2011 in this Front Range Forum, ha) and if any of you could answer even a part of these questions, I'd appreciate it soooo much. THANK YOU!!! I can't wait for August :-D

  2. #2
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    That is a tough call.

    I would go to Crested Butte though. And since you have a car you should stay in Gunnison in a cheap motel, and ride Hartman too. A few days of trail riding, consider hitting Monarch Crest for a quick few hours of out-and-back on the drive back.

    That's what I'd do. If you had one or two more days I might suggest Durango.

  3. #3
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    It "sounds" like you have four days to ride but you really don't. The farther you go from DIA (and it's a fair drive from there just to start heading up into the foothills) the less time you have to ride. It's either a driving Tour de Colorado with some riding or stay close and just ride. Like, camp near Lyons and ride mostly in that area. Or up in some motel in Ned and explore up there. CB is great but figure at least 1 1/2 days for driving there and back. More or less.

    If you had a full 7 days that would be different.
    A blind man searches in a dark room for a black hat that isn't there. Dashiell Hammett

  4. #4
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    Summit County.

  5. #5
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    What is this concern for safety theme you've got going on? Are you afraid of a few bears and mountain lions? I almost always ride solo.

    You have a choice. Foothills stuff is sort of small potatoes. It's go to a trail, ride ten to twenty miles, be done with that area. Crested Butte has a lot, and you could spend a few days there without repeating any trails. The other thing to consider are trails like Kenosha that get you out of the city but are still populated enough that you wouldn't need to worry about being alone.

  6. #6
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    Thurs night: drive to Aspen
    Ride Aspen Friday and Saturday
    Ride Crested Butte Sunday Monday

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    Summit County.
    X2. This is your best bet. Aim for breck, rent from avalanche sports, ask them for trail recomendos. 1.5 hours from dia and large concentration of single track.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcguy View Post
    It "sounds" like you have four days to ride but you really don't. The farther you go from DIA (and it's a fair drive from there just to start heading up into the foothills) the less time you have to ride. It's either a driving Tour de Colorado with some riding or stay close and just ride. Like, camp near Lyons and ride mostly in that area. Or up in some motel in Ned and explore up there. CB is great but figure at least 1 1/2 days for driving there and back. More or less.

    If you had a full 7 days that would be different.
    Nah, Gunnison/CB's not that far. 4 scenic hours or less from DIA. That even leaves time for short rides on travel days. I've done CB multiple times with a 4-day window of opportunity. I highly recommend doing a quick out-and-back on the Crest on the drive back. Breaks up the drive in the best possible way, especially on a weekday.

  9. #9
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    Thanks soo much for all the responses so far! Crested Butte is the furtherst destination so I might just have to nix that for this trip. As for traveling to the other locations: I can drive there the night before, stay locally overnight, and get up to ride early the next day. I was thinking I could do a big loop away from Denver. Either head south and then east and then back around or visa versa. I really want to check out Trestles though (maybe first or last day?), it looks like a blast.

    I figure ride in the mornings/early afternoons (before the bad weather hits) and then drive to the next spot the next day. Although I could drive out somewhere Thursday afternoon and have 3 completely full days (drive back Moday evening). I kinda like the idea of driving out and doing 2 days at crested butte and 2 days aspen (or somewhere else along the way) like hungryhead suggested. Still open for anything!

    I think I might be a bit bored and lonely in the late afternoon/evenings by myself so I might as well drive to my next spot.

    Guyechka - the safety theme- It's probably just me being a scaredy-cat but there's always soooo many people at my local trails when I ride solo (southern california, around LA/OC) I know if anything should happen, someone will probably be along in less than 20 min. Too be honest though, I'm probably more scared of the human element here than any wildlife (I was always raised to be super aware when by yourself as a female) but that's probably not an issue out there, is it? Less people, more wild, right?

    Again, THANK YOU for taking the time to respond. This is going to be a total character building trip for me as I have never traveled solo (and it's a bit outside my comfort zone). I am pretty excited (and nervous).

    Edit: Just saw Robert's response to CB being far. HMMM that totally opens up the possibility!
    Last edited by taranehneh; 06-07-2012 at 02:10 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by taranehneh View Post

    And response to the safety thing - It's probably just me being a scaredycat but there's always soooo many people at my local trails (southern california, around LA/OC) I know if anything should happen, someone will probably be along in less than 20 min. Too be honest though, I'm probably more scared of the human element here than any wildlife (I was always raised to be super aware when by yourself as a female) but that's probably not an issue out there, is it? Less people, more wild, right?
    Unless you're well off the beaten path, like some uber-epic, there's usually at least some people out. And if you're near any town, the working people usually get out post-work for a ride and would find your half mountain-lion-eaten-body.
    Take the long cut, we'll get there eventually.

  11. #11
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    Haha! Good to know. That makes me feel much better. (LOL that sounds sarcastic but seriously it does)

    So let me qualify what kind of riding I'm looking for: No Uber Epics (hehe)

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by xcguy View Post
    It "sounds" like you have four days to ride but you really don't. The farther you go from DIA (and it's a fair drive from there just to start heading up into the foothills) the less time you have to ride. It's either a driving Tour de Colorado with some riding or stay close and just ride. Like, camp near Lyons and ride mostly in that area. Or up in some motel in Ned and explore up there. CB is great but figure at least 1 1/2 days for driving there and back. More or less.

    If you had a full 7 days that would be different.
    To an extent I agree with xcguy, but only to the extent that you should avoid a Tour de Colorado. I think you should pick one place, but honestly I would not pick the front range as that place in order to avoid some drive time. Go see Colorado.

    I think CB is a great choice. RobertHurst's suggestion is good, but I might consider doing more with the Crest than out-and-back. Get up early your last day and get to Poncha Springs in time to pick up the first shuttle back up to Monarch, and then ride the full 30 mile classic Crest Ride. Back to your car by mid-afternoon. Easy three hour drive from Poncha to DIA rental car return.
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

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  13. #13
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    Tom, in other posts I've seen you say good things about Salida area and riding. So much so that I've really been considering it as a top contender. Would CB be better than there for me?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by taranehneh View Post
    Tom, in other posts I've seen you say good things about Salida area and riding. So much so that I've really been considering it as a top contender. Would CB be better than there for me?
    Well, yeah, Salida is my home and I love it. And there are some killer rides here--but if you have one place to see on a 4 day trip and you've never seen CB... it's pretty wonderful.

    August is late for the wildflowers, especially in what will probably prove to be a dry summer; but the flora and the red soil and the Maroon Bells and the West Elks and those beautiful rivers...

    CB is grand.

    If you did hit the Crest full meal deal you'd be seeing the cream of Salida's local riding. My personal bias is that the Monarch Crest Trail itself (Monarch to Marshall Pass--the first 11 miles of the 30 mile ride) is not the best part of that ride. That's what you'd see if you just did an out-and-back on your way back over Monarch Pass. It's purty and all, but you say you like flowy singletrack. The Silver Creek Trail and the Rainbow Trail define flowy singletrack.

    I certainly welcome you to come here, but in three days at the Butte you could ride Snodgrass-Slate River Road-403-Schofield Pass-401 one day. Strand Hill-Deer Creek another day. Doctors Park another day. Reno-Flag-Bear another day. Wait, that's already too many days. Then you could also do a day at Hartman outside of Gunnison.

    I don't know that I can set you up with that many over-the-top good rides in Salida.
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

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  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by taranehneh View Post
    Tom, in other posts I've seen you say good things about Salida area and riding. So much so that I've really been considering it as a top contender. Would CB be better than there for me?
    CB beats Salida IMO as a place to hang out. The scenery is arguably better in the Butte. Salida is quite a bit closer, though...

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by SkaredShtles View Post
    CB beats Salida IMO as a place to hang out. The scenery is arguably better in the Butte. Salida is quite a bit closer, though...
    You know what though, if what you're into is falling drunk into a river and drowning, I think we have CB beat. You'd have to be pretty darned drunk to drown in that bitty little Slate River...
    Tom Purvis - Salida, CO - http://teamvelveeta.tom-purvis.com

    "I like my wimmen like I like my beer--cold and bitter!"

  17. #17
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    Man, I think I am going to already have to start planning my SECOND mountain bike trip to CO... haha! That one will be a week AT LEAST though, esp if I have to drive 1000 miles from socal... Thanks sooo much for all the input. I think you guys are right, focus on one epic destination, maybe 2 at the most. I was just trying to break up the driving and give myself something to do in the afternoons/evenings, hehe. But it will be MUCH simpler logistically if I just go to CB.... Hmmm!

  18. #18
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    Best advice? Don't come here for advice.


  19. #19
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    Here's my recommended itinerary:

    Day 1: Pickup Rental Car, drive to Breckenridge. Lot's of great riding right from town. Cool town too, so stay the night in Breck. Others on this forum can recommend specific routes better than me.
    Day 2: Wake up early, drive to Copper Mountain and ride the section of Colorado Trail from Copper Mountain to Searle Pass. This might be an ambitious ride coming from sea level, but you can always turn around since it's an out and back. It's a back country'ish ride, but since it follows the CT it's very well marked. The trickiest part (at least for me) is finding the starting point within the Copper Mountain Ski Resort. Either stay near Copper or drive the ~ 2 hours to Salida and stay in Salida.
    Day 3: Salida. Lot's of good riding options: Monarch Crest shuttle is definitely a classic. And a shuttle might be appropriate after two solid says of riding. Keep in mind, though, that MC isn't an EASY shuttle. There's some pretty good climbs. Ideally I think you'd try to hook up with other riders for this as it might qualify as uber-epic to an intermediate rider from LA. Other Salida options are the Rainbow Trail (section from Silver Creek to 285) or the local town trail system. Spend night in Salida.
    Day 4: Start heading back toward Denver. Stop at Kenosha Pass and ride out and back toward Georgia Pass. You may or may not make it all the way after three solid days of riding, but it's a classic and well traveled trail. Stay in one of the towns between Kenosha and Denver, or stay near airport.

    EDIT: OR JUST GO TO CB!!!

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomP View Post
    You know what though, if what you're into is falling drunk into a river and drowning, I think we have CB beat. You'd have to be pretty darned drunk to drown in that bitty little Slate River...
    You'd have to be *really* $hitfaced and land *just right* in the Slate to pull that off.

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by taranehneh View Post
    Man, I think I am going to already have to start planning my SECOND mountain bike trip to CO... haha! That one will be a week AT LEAST though, esp if I have to drive 1000 miles from socal... Thanks sooo much for all the input. I think you guys are right, focus on one epic destination, maybe 2 at the most. I was just trying to break up the driving and give myself something to do in the afternoons/evenings, hehe. But it will be MUCH simpler logistically if I just go to CB.... Hmmm!
    If you hit Summit County you can get some gravity assist at Keystone... or make a short side-trip to Trestle coming/going from DIA.

  22. #22
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    If you have 4 days CB is completely do-able. 4 hour or so drive from Denver and it has GREAT riding and spectacular scenery. Even the trip there is beautiful, since you get to drive by the Collegiate peaks.

    To Tom's recommendations I would add the Dyke trail. But really, there are no bad rides in CB. Even the Lower Loop is pretty.
    I drank the 29er koolaid- turns out it was POWERade

  23. #23
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    [QUOTE=jradin;9388753]Here's my recommended itinerary:

    Day 1: Pickup Rental Car, drive to Breckenridge. Lot's of great riding right from town. Cool town too, so stay the night in Breck. Others on this forum can recommend specific routes better than me.
    Day 2: Wake up early, drive to Copper Mountain and ride the section of Colorado Trail from Copper Mountain to Searle Pass. This might be an ambitious ride coming from sea level, but you can always turn around since it's an out and back. It's a back country'ish ride, but since it follows the CT it's very well marked. The trickiest part (at least for me) is finding the starting point within the Copper Mountain Ski Resort. Either stay near Copper or drive the ~ 2 hours to Salida and stay in Salida.
    Day 3: Salida. Lot's of good riding options: Monarch Crest shuttle is definitely a classic. And a shuttle might be appropriate after two solid says of riding. Keep in mind, though, that MC isn't an EASY shuttle. There's some pretty good climbs. Ideally I think you'd try to hook up with other riders for this as it might qualify as uber-epic to an intermediate rider from LA. Other Salida options are the Rainbow Trail (section from Silver Creek to 285) or the local town trail system. Spend night in Salida.
    Day 4: Start heading back toward Denver. Stop at Kenosha Pass and ride out and back toward Georgia Pass. You may or may not make it all the way after three solid days of riding, but it's a classic and well traveled trail. Stay in one of the towns between Kenosha and Denver, or stay near airport.

    This is a darn good plan

  24. #24
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    Alright, I can't stand it any longer.

    What is wrong with the single guys on here?

    Here we have a
    1) female
    2) MTBer
    2.5) from SO Cal
    3) traveling solo
    4) a little leary to do so
    5) unfamiliar with area
    6) looking for suggestions
    And none of you single guys are tripping over yourselves volunteering to be a tour guide????????????

    I knew MTBR was whacked, but this takes the cake.

    Hopefully some of you at least PM'd her.



    taranehneh, you have gotten some good suggestions here. I won't add to the confusion by throwing anything else out there.
    You will not be disappointed.
    Enjoy.

  25. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by taranehneh View Post
    I was just trying to break up the driving and give myself something to do in the afternoons/evenings, hehe. But it will be MUCH simpler logistically if I just go to CB.... Hmmm!
    In the evening- hike, take pics, go have a drink and dinner (good restaurants in Crested Butte), check out all the art galleries, go for a scenic drive. A good bike shop for info is the Alpineer, you can't miss it, you drive right by it on the way into town. The Cristiana would be a good place for a solo traveler to stay, looks like they still have some availability and they are in town not at the resort. The town is pretty cool and you'll probably find something to keep you entertained there, even if it is just walking around and checking out the homes with "character".
    If you are a coffee person, definitely get a brew at Camp 4 Coffee. It's good stuff

    Solo traveling can be a ton of fun. You get to set the itinerary, choose the activities and don't have to listen to anyone elses complaining! Be sure to talk to people. On a weekend, there will be other mountain bikers out on the trails. Take a map and have some adventures
    I drank the 29er koolaid- turns out it was POWERade

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