On paved roads and dusty single track, bikes are guaranteed to be a fun and fast way to see Northwest Colorado.
"I think Northwest Colorado has a lot to offer," said Gretchen Sehler, director of Steamboat's Town Challenge Mountain Bike Race Series and race director of Rocky Peak Productions. "We're getting our name on the map."
This summer, Steamboat will hold a 24-hour mountain bike race, in which individuals and teams ride a loop on Mount Werner as many times as they can in one 24-hour period.
For families or those who want a mellow day on a bike, the Yampa River Core Trail in downtown Steamboat Springs is a fun way to follow the Yampa River, see the area's hot springs and get a feel for the town.
As roads are improved across the area, the skinny tires of road bikes are gaining popularity, with multiple fun rides starting along U.S. Highway 40.
Some near Steamboat Springs that are great to check out include heading north on Routt County Road 129, or traveling south on Colorado Highway 131, which eventually connects to Interstate 70. Starting from Craig, a good choice includes heading west to Maybell.
Popular mountain bike rides include:
Hot Springs Loop: Some rocky and steep sections, but mostly a fast-paced singletrack through a pretty area. Connects to the Mad Creek and Red Dirt trails, making for various rides, some of which are long. Start at the Strawberry Park Hot Springs off of Routt County Road 36.
Spring Creek Trail: Great for beginners or those who want to hammer up a mellow 5-mile hill. Most of the trail is in the shade, and most is smooth singletrack. Go up and down the trail, which starts near Steamboat Springs High School, or connect to Routt County Road 38.
Howelsen Hill/Emerald Mountain: downtown, loads of trails to connect with, good singletrack for uphill and downhill fun, as well as the Quarry Trail (Blackmer Driver) for the less-technical fire road experience.
Steamboat Ski Area: Great uphill workout for a choice of sweet downhill rides, or take the Gondola up and enjoy the downhill by itself. Riding up Zig Zag and down Valley View and Pete's Wicked Trail provide fantastic views.
Continental Divide: Gives bikers the option of spending the day or a few days on the trail. Get a break from the crowds at the more popular rides, but remember that bikes are not allowed in wilderness areas.
Dinosaur Trail: 67 miles one way of trails that are rated easy to intermediate and advanced. Trails include paved sections, improved and unimproved dirt road sections, rough two-track and some 4x4 trails. Links Dinosaur National Monument with Dinosaur and Rangely.
Elkhead Reservoir: Single track and county roads make up this 10-mile loop for the intermediate to advanced rider. Share with horses and hikers in the summer, so remember trail etiquette. Just northeast of Craig.
Cedar Mountain: Northwest of Craig, an intermediate 3.5-mile loop of single track and dirt roads. The trails continue from there.
In North Routt there are various hotspots including Coulton Creek and Nipple Peak, and South Routt boasts trails such as Rock Creek and Muddy Slide. Kremmling has a bike map for visitors. There are hundreds of miles of backcountry roads and trails throughout the area, including Brown's Park, Sandwash Basin, Cold Spring Mountain, Irish Canyon and more.
Any local bike shops can suggest plenty of rides for the beginner and for the seasoned mountain biker.
For more information on the 24-Hour ride on June 12 and 13, go to www.rockypeakproductions.com. n