This is a great ride to start from Golden. The Strava report starts in Arvada heading south-west through Golden and beyond. This gives you more mileage and it’s a good warm-up, but it’s not necessary. With 3,900 feet of elevation gain, this is a ride designed for climbing. Flying down Heritage Rd. to US 40 is a blast. Be ready to hang a quick right into Red Rocks. Now might be a good time to discuss Red Rocks etiquette.
At any point, you have to know that tourists will be out milling about. They will be looking at the glorious wonders, driving aimlessly through the park, often even inadvertently crossing the yellow line. Just be…careful. And courteous. We get to live here. Most people don’t. As you near the restaurant, be aware (especially if there is a concert that day) that you will probably encounter a tour bus; dare I say, even an entourage. I once came flying down the canyon all pleased with my fasty-self until I nearly slammed into a ginormous picture of a rap-star donning a very shiny gold tooth on the side of his tour bus. Deer, kids, the elderly, boot-campers, rap-stars; they ALL come to Red Rocks. Be nice, be safe and be AWARE of all the moving parts around you. There. Enough said.
Exiting Red Rocks from Red Rocks Loop Rd, puts you on Hwy 74 (Bear Creek Rd). This is a personal favorite of mine. Usually traffic isn’t AWFUL. Many people using the road are fellow cyclists driving up to ride Lair O’ the Bear. But the shoulder is still very narrow in certain parts, so keep it to the right, friends. Don’t mess it up for everyone. Curvy, and pretty, you can still use this stretch to put the hurt on yourself and those around you.
At the small town of Idledale, you’ll come to a Post Office. Shortly west of this, you could opt out here (not much of a pain opt out–it would simply be to save you time) and take the infamous Grapevine rd. to get back to Golden via Hwy 40. Grapevine is a windy piece of nastiness. It’s a fun mix of bad pavement, dirt and chip and seal that will make you grateful for the sign that says, “Pavement begins” on the other side. But, if you want more climbing, keep on trucking. Shortly before the town of Kittredge, you’ll see a water-treatment plant on your right. Kerr Gulch Rd. is right after a smooth parking lot for the plant. You’ll know it because it’s steep. And it looks mean. Take a right.
This short little piece of dirt doesn’t last nearly as long as Grapevine. It’s a bit bumpy and rutted, but it’s a fun little stretch. Again, keep in mind that PEOPLE LIVE on this road. They don’t want to have to worry about you huffing and puffing and sliding out under their dual-wheeled Dodge trucks. Ride like you know what you’re doing. At the base of the dirt, you’ll hang a left continuing up Kerr Gulch Rd. It becomes smooth pavement and soon you’ll be climbing up through the lovely country-side. Quiet and full of gentle rolling grassy hills and ranches. Continue this climb until you hit Evergreen Pkwy. It’s all (well, mostly) down-hill from here. Head east on Evergreen Pkwy, and continue onto…I-70.
This will seem extraordinarily wrong. It’s quick. Don’t worry. Ride it fast and pay attention to road debris. Apparently semi trucks can lose entire wheels and engines and they can keep going. Take exit 254 and thank your lucky stars you made it alive.
Cross over I-70 (past the Buffalo Herd Overlook), heading north to Mt. Vernon Rd. This is a fun, fast little downhill swoop past the Mt. Vernon Golf Course. It will pop you out on S Lookout Mtn. Road. From there, you just head on down Lookout Mtn. and get back to town.
* If you want more dirt and climbing, you can pull off at the Chief Hosa exit. Head south past the campgrounds. It’s kind of secret, and seems like it won’t connect, but it does. Pops you right out on S. Genesee Mtn. Rd. Then you hang a right, heading down S. Genesee Mtn. Rd. and continue down Lookout.
Counter Clockwise: Starting in Golden, this is the perfect loop if you love to get your climbing out the way first and enjoy descending like a beast. You’ll have to climb back up from Morrison, but if you get too tired you can stop off at the Morrison Inn to refuel. Not that I’ve ever done that, or anything. *The margaritas are delicious.