As we celebrate Colorado Bike Month, 303 is dedicated to providing valuable tips, resources and advice to help you hit the commute safely and well-prepared.
By 303 Ambassador Erin Trail
I recently started working downtown, which involves a 30 mile one-way commute, usually by bus or light rail. I’m really happy to have these great commuting options, but I was also lamenting a loss of time spent not commuting: loss of freedom, time to train, time to do what I want. I perked up though when I realized that Denver has GREAT bike lanes and a fantastic trail system. I mapped it out: 5 blocks of downtown city streets, and ~30 miles of paved bike path allll the way home. My office building has a dedicated and secure “Bike Barn”, complete with locker rooms and free towels, which makes commuting completely doable. Riding both ways is a bit much for me, so I decided to bring my bike with me to work in the mornings and ride home.
I took a few weeks to prep my bike. I’m not brave enough to put my nice TT bike on the front of the bus, and 30 miles of pavement on my mountain bike didn’t sound like much fun. So I got my old trusty Specialized Allez Pro roadie ready for commuting. This meant making sure I had enough water bottle cages for 2 hours of riding, a better saddle, new bar tape, and a bike repair kit (multi-tool, tubes, levers, CO2). Once the bike was ready, things were a GO!
Last week was my first trial run at this. The night before, I was as excited as I am the night before a race. Instead of having to “commute” home – I GET to ride my bike home. Doesn’t that sound so much better?
I opted to take the bus into work, as each bus has a pretty easy (and sturdy!) bike rack. This meant that I could ride from my house to the Park and Ride, load my bike on the front of the bus, grab a front row seat inside the bus and nervously jump every time the driver hit the brakes or we hit a bump. Zooming down I-25 on the front of the bus is something my bike probably never thought it would experience. We got to Civic Center, I rescued my bike from the front of the bus, and rode the 5 blocks into work. Once at work, I stowed my bike safely away and counted down the minutes until we would be reunited for a trip back home.
Work ended and I headed back down to the bike barn to change and roll on home. I was VERY nervous about riding through downtown Denver on the streets. I mapped out the protected bike lanes and took Lawrence down to the Cherry Creek Trail. The bike lanes are very generously sized and in some blocks, they’re even protected with dividers. I was pleasantly surprised at how nice it was to ride downtown – even at rush hour.
Once on the familiar Cherry Creek bike path, it was smooth sailing. It was great to ride on a gorgeous Colorado day and see a variety of people out on the trail. I had about 30 miles of pedaling – all uphill – but I was so happy to be on my bike that it didn’t seem like that much work. It’s a great opportunity to capture some time lost to commuting back and get some solid training in. I’m challenging myself to ride home once a week for the entire summer. I can hardly wait.