Oftentimes, those making the transition from concrete to dirt experience a little trepidation in knowing what to expect and how to make the move with ease. However, with our tips, you’ll be shredding trails in no time!
First and foremost, you need to decide what mountain bike to ride. Our post, Which Mountain Bike Should You Buy, walks you through all the options available, the pros and cons of each and help dial that in for you. Granted, you’ll need a mountain bike but what size wheel, bike components, hard tail or full suspension, and all the bike parts associated with your mountain bike of choice is up to you. Obviously, we’re here to help you so stop in Peak Cycles Bicycle Shop to test ride some mountain bikes, as well as, get all of your questions answered.
Notably, after you have your bike – or get a rental bike – you’ll need to get the right cycling apparel. If you’re a road cyclist or a commuter, you can wear some of the same clothing. For instance, your helmet, jersey, and shorts will work. However, you may consider full finger gloves to protect your hands. Also, mountain bike shoes are helpful. Unlike road riding, when riding trails it isn’t uncommon to jump off the bike, walk or jog through a section, and then jump back on. Surprisingly, you may also want to swap out your road sunglasses for transition lenses. Mountain bike trails are exposed and also heavily covered with negation and trees making visibility different than when riding the road. Protecting your eyes is one thing but being able to see the trails and ride comfortably is another.
The next question is, where to ride? Trail difficulty ranges from easy to hard. The best part about harder trails is that if it seems to challenging to ride, you can walk that section. On the plus side, seeing challenging terrain gives you something to aim to achieve later. All of Golden’s trails can be found on the City of Golden website. For your convenience, however, we thought we would highlight some of our favorite cycling trails.
Chimney Gulch Trail – Skill Level: Moderate – Advanced
Not too far away from downtown Golden, Chimney Gulch is a visitor and local favorite because it ascends the well-known Golden landmark — Lookout Mountain. Chimney Gulch is mostly an uphill climb which winds through the Golden foothills and emerges at the top of Lookout Mountain. At the summit, you can park your bike to enjoy gorgeous mountain and city overlooks or visit the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve. And the way down is all downhill!
Apex Trail – Skill Level: Moderate – Advanced
Similar to (but less popular than) the Chimney Gulch Trail, the Apex Trail winds up and up into Golden’s western foothills. For much of the way, the track is surrounded by pine forests, giving you a feeling that you are far away from the bustle of city life. The Chimney Gulch and Apex trails can actually be connected for an extended ride up one and down the other. If you are combining the trails, you may want to consider stopping at Buffalo Bill’s grave at the top of Lookout Mountain.
North and South Table Mountain – Skill Level: Easy – Moderate
Both North and South Table Mountain (located on the east side of Golden) offer a unique mountain biking experience. The flat-top mesa makes for relatively easy cycling, which gives riders the chance to enjoy the open prairie. Both mesas have multiple access points and extensive trails that weave on top and along the side of the mountains, just out of reach of urban Golden. We find that morning and evening light glancing off the prairies make for an especially special ride on these trails.
White Ranch Trail – Skill Level: Moderate – Difficult
If you are looking for solitude, this is one of your best bets. On the north end of Golden, the White Ranch Park offers a different type of beauty from the rest of town and encompasses meadows, pine forests, views of buttes, and unique rock formations. It has about 20 miles of trails that wind through both rugged and gentle terrain.
With all this in mind, it’s important to note that before taking your mountain bike for a spin, it’s important to be prepared. Having plenty of water, food and nutrition, extra tire tubes, and repair kits, as well as the right tires and maps will ensure you have an enjoyable and stress free experience. So what are you waiting for? Answer the calling of the trails – ride them!