The only place more lambasted and torched on social media than California just might be Boulder, Colorado.
It is said to be the land of cold brew coffee, kombucha and man-buns.
I don’t know how accurate that is, but it’s not super far off the mark. It seems, from spending a few days in Boulder everyone is either an athlete, a coach or an athlete/coach. Just spend a hour or so parked at one of the benches in the new Skratch Labs Café and it’s veritable smorgasbord of athletes.
Allen Lim is the brains behind the operation and can often times be found running about. Alexey and Avery are sitting across the room plotting and everyone who pops in looks like they are headed for brick workout or a drum circle.
I guess it’s only fair that in a place so beautiful, all the beautiful people are drawn toward it.
We were in town to attend the Old Man Winter gravel race and the first thing we “discovered” was Babette's Pizza and Pane. We intended to search out a number of coffee shops and breakfast spots to recommend, but after having Babette’s cheese danish and almond cake, we never went anywhere else.
Sure, Babette's is a little bit pricey, even by Bay Area standards, but they know what they are doing at the espresso machine and the amount of butter in their buttery croissants is impressive. There is abundant seating and if you are lucky you get to sit next to two women dissecting their emotions and the “attitudes” of everyone on their recent ski trip.
Who knew two people could spend over an hour determining whether the looks they were receiving were intended as hostile or just due to the weather?
Okay, enough about our pastries. We are here to ride and race bikes and even though it is unseasonably brisk out, it seems like everyone else is too.
You can’t drive more than a couple miles without seeing a pack of riders or a loaner pedaler. Even though you expect everyone to be on the latest two-wheeled wonder, and most of them are, you also come upon the lone rider on a 80’s Italian steel bike in a full vintage Mapei kit.
It doesn’t matter what you’re riding as long as you are riding.
There are really only two kinds of rides in Boulder, the one going out or the one going up.
You can roll around in the flats for hours, crisscrossing back and forth through the endless grid of pavement and gravel. Or you can point your bike towards the hills and pick your gradient poison. There’s Left Hand Canyon, Lee Hill, US-36, Boulder Canyon and the list goes on and on. Boulder offers up many fun little roads tucked into its foothills.
Of course, you can't forget the single-track trails crisscrossing above Boulder: Marshall Mesa, Walker Ranch, Hall Ranch and oh so many more “secret” stretches of hero dirt.
After a couple of days of “practice/training” before Old Man Winter, we needed to carbo load. On the recommendation of local cycling legend Colby Pearce we headed to downtown Boulder to Zoe Ma Ma for a bowl of roast duck wonton soup. It was amazing and we can’t recommended it enough. Go have the duck soup, you won’t regret it.
We were lucky enough to warrant a visit to the Mosiac Bicycle World Headquarters where they were busily welding, painting, building and designing all the titanium goodness dreams are made of. They may have also been working on some top secret stuff that we can’t talk about or show you, but keep an eye on what they are up to.
With all the visiting, rolling around and pastry sampling out of the way, the only thing left to do was to race even though most of the racers were hoping for an “epic" Colorado snowstorm to make the race one for the books. Luckily, the day broke bright and clear and, by most accounts, downright tropical in the mid-50s.
The course was a spectacular spectacle and if you ever get out to Boulder, we highly recommend a pedal up Left Hand Canyon Road. It is really something special. As a matter of fact, the entire Old Man Winter 100k route is a must do if you are up to the task.
As we wheeled our way back across the miles to the Denver International Airport, we couldn't help but dream of returning during warmer days and pondering who had the ridiculous idea to build the airport closer to the eastern seaboard than downtown Denver.
Until we meet again, Boulder. Keep it real or at least as real as a guy sipping kombucha and twiddling his man-bun can keep it.