Although its only 10 miles from Breck, Frisco feels a lot less touristy. Frisco is perhaps best known for its insane bike park, with huge jumps and perfectly crafted transitions. Frisco is also right on Lake Dillon, which is quite beautiful, especially in summer. Located right off I-70, Frisco has terrific accessibility. I’d probably live in Frisco before Breck, but its still above 9,000 feet, which makes for long, oppressive winters.
The ASS’s accommodations while in illustrious Vail.
Didn’t get to ride any trails in Vail, but I did get to sleep in a teepee and ride up to the very top of Vail Pass on the bike path, which was amazing. Definitely the best bike path I’ve ever ridden. Highly recommended. Vail is simply waaay too touristy, trying so hard to be a Swiss Alps resort. When you walk into Vail Village, you think for a second that you might be in Switzerland, but then you see a Starbucks and are instantly reminded this ain’t Davos.
Despite the glitz and glamour, Aspen still has a mountain town feel.
It’s been about 15 years since I was last in Aspen, and despite this town being overrun with the proverbial “1%-ers” and Hollywood hotshots, I still love Aspen. The town hasn’t gotten too caught up in the glitz and glamour, still offering a frontier, mining town feel with beautiful historic buildings and Western character. Too bad this place will paralyze your bank account. I guess it could be a fun place to live if you don’t mind being homeless.
Oh Boulder; the panacea of well-to-do, well-off, hippy environmentalists with two Subarus parked in their driveway. I’ll keep this one short. It’s got an “interesting” downtown rich with “interesting” people – standard fare for a big college town – and a lot of great restaurants, but if you’re a mountain biker, pass.
Although there’s some amazing scenery, mountain biking from downtown Boulder is underwhelming.
My good buddy Andy took us on the “Super Walker Loop”, which basically consists of some scenic yet boring fire road, followed by a lot of soul crushing and steep pavement followed by some mildly fun singletrack at Walker Ranch followed by some ankle busting hike-a-bike followed by more soul crushing pavement. If you’re a roadie or you’re rich, Boulder is probably awesome. But I’m not a roadie and not rich either, so you can have Boulder.
Golden has an awesome frontier town feel.
I didn’t get a chance to ride in Golden, but the town is brimming with character. It’s only 20 miles south of Boulder, but light years different in feel. There’s no eco-nazi vibe in Golden. It feels like it should; a Western frontier town that’s proud of its roots and proud to be the home of Coors Brewing. If I was going to live on the Front Range, Golden would definitely be on my short list.
GJ gets the award for “biggest surprise” of the trip. I was not expecting much from GJ, but the town is quite vibrant. Not only is it a bigger town than I was expecting, but the quality of restaurants and friendliness of the people was simply amazing. Il Bistro Italiano was the best Italian meal I’ve ever had in the United States by far. Whoda thunk it would be in a place that some call “The Junkyard”.
Grand Junction is a fairly large city set along some of the most awe striking trails and scenery in the Western U.S.
The riding in GJ is equally stellar. After competing in the inaugural Grand Junction Off-Road, my mind was blown. World-class singletrack trails only two miles from downtown boast some of the most jaw-dropping views you’ll ever see on a bike. Simply stunning. Grand Junction would definitely be a great place to live, as it has a very good high desert climate at about 4,500 feet, and is merely an hour from the high alpine meadows of the Grand Mesa at 10,000 feet and the red rocks of Moab.
Yes, I sure did!
This town is downright awesome, and was my second favorite stop in Colorado. Located dead in the center of Colorado in what they call the “banana belt”, Salida offers some of the best riding and best weather I experienced. The town is pretty small at just under 10,000 residents and doesn’t have a touristy vibe at all. Everybody rides bikes here. You never have to drive anywhere. Everything is within riding distance. It’s a sleepy town for sure, but it’s right on the banks of the Arkansas River, a world-class kayaking destination. Salida is to kayaking like Moab is to mountain biking. New trails are being built daily in Salida, so mountain biking may soon take over in prominence.
My buddy Josh took me on a three-hour tour that was simply amazing. Literally within a half-mile of F Street we were on dirt. The trails flowed so good in Salida that I began daydreaming about other stuff. I wasn’t even thinking about riding. I was thinking about life and my existence on this planet. I love trails like that. The only downside is that Salida might be just a little too sleepy for my taste, and kind of expensive for how isolated it is, but I’d be willing to give it a chance.
People of Durango eat, sleep, and defecate mountain bikes.
Although I still have many more towns in Colorado to visit, on this trip at least, Durango was far and away my favorite stop. This town eats, breathes, sleeps and defecates mountain bikes. There are world-class trails in every direction within a couple miles of downtown. Not only does Fort Lewis College have a national caliber cycling program, but the Durango DEVO team also gets kids involved at such a young age that by the time they’re teenagers, they’re crushing dreams all over the country. Everybody rides in this town, including entire families who go on their own evening group mountain bike ride.
The bike path along the Animas River in Durango is great for families and shirtless commuter dudes.
Add in the gorgeous Animas River flowing through town, the historic Durango and Silverton narrow gauge train that runs every day in the summer with its massive plumes of soot and deafening steam whistle and the strong community aspect of supporting local businesses, Durango has an undeniable charm that’s easy to fall in love with. Although Durango is a little touristy, the local charm definitely outshines it. The only downsides are that Durango isn’t cheap, it’s not easy to find a good paying job and a major airport is a four-hour drive minimum. But hey, nothing in life worthwhile is simple to attain.
Oh, and did I mention that weed is now fully legal in Colorado? Not a bad place. Not a bad place at all. Thanks to all my friends who put me up in their homes during my trip. I look forward to another journey back to colorful Colorado!