Denver is a cyclist's town. The city is full of bike lanes and trails, mountain bikers don't need to drive hours to tear up singletrack, and for people looking for a tuneup or a new ride, there are numeous shops with competent mechanics – even coffee and gourmet chocolates. Here are eight places every Denver biker should know about, all featured in the Best of Denver 2017.
Best Bike Path in Metro Denver
Sand Creek Regional Greenway
Herons and foxes and muskrats, oh, my! You’re likely to see them and much more at the Wetland Park, the Heron Pond, Bluff Lake Nature Center and the Morrison Nature Center, all of which can be found alongside the Sand Creek Regional Greenway, a fourteen-mile trail that goes from Commerce City to Aurora via Denver and Stapleton, with parking at either end and several points along the way. With connections to the High Line Canal and the South Platte River Greenway, Sand Creek is paved in parts and lined with gravel in others, which makes for a serene and scenic nature ride, in sections running right next to its namesake waterway. Check the website for navigation details — this is an urban trail, so construction occasionally calls for detours — and keep an eye out for joggers and horses.
Best Community Bike Shop
Lucky Bikes Re-Cyclery
3150 West Jewell Avenue
Lucky Bikes is the local hub for Trips for Kids Denver Metro, part of a national string of nonprofits providing bike-related opportunities for young people. Trips for Kids keeps at-risk youths ages ten and up rolling in several ways: first, by sending them on daylong mountain-biking adventures; second, by teaching them bicycle-maintenance skills and safety rules in order to rebuild and earn a bike of their own; and third, by employing high-school students in the shop. Along with being a training ground, Lucky Bikes is also a used-bike store, offering repair services and refurbished wheels to the public. What goes around comes around.
Best Bike Share
Golden Bike Library
1010 Washington Street, Golden
There’s no denying that Denver’s B-cycle bike-sharing program is a boon, but what if — instead of B-cycle’s somewhat pricey, one-size-fits-all model — you could borrow a bike that’s just your size and style and ride it for free for the first two hours? That’s the difference at Visit Golden’s bike library, located at the downtown Golden Visitors Center, where your whole family can hop on a bike from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays during the summer and fall months. Daily rentals beyond the two-hour period top off at $10, and there are provisions to return bikes after hours if you want to stop for dinner. Each bike comes with a helmet, a lock, a free water bottle and a golden ticket offering discounts at Golden businesses. And even if it’s more of an amenity for tourists and not really intended for use by hard-core daily commuters, a deal’s a deal.
Best Commuter Bike Shop
The Urban Cyclist
3434 Brighton Boulevard, Unit B
“People come in and say something like, ‘I just want to ride [a bike] to work, ditch my car. I want to ride it to the restaurant or the bars,’” says Urban Cyclist owner Darrin Duran. “Two things will happen: Either they just use it for that, or they turn into complete fucking bike nerds.” The Urban Cyclist isn’t a bike shop; it’s a lifestyle. The unique and oh-so-Denver shop cultivates a commuter, fixie lifestyle. Urban’s Pac Man machine welcomes you to the RiNo warehouse space, which is a decked-out, bustling bike heaven. The large warehouse walls are covered in every color rim, accessory, frame, cruiser, chain, pedal and seat you can imagine. You won’t find any cliché hipster decor or arrogance from employees. Instead, you’ll be welcomed into a healthy way of life and leave inspired to ride your bike everywhere.
Read on for more things every Denver biker should know about.
Best OG Bike Shop
Turin Bike Shop
700 Lincoln Street
For 46 years, Turin Bike Shop has been a reliable and outstanding specialty bike shop for all types of riders, mountain or road, and has offered a healthy selection of imported gear. The oldest bike shop in the Mile High City is actually a transplant: Turin began in Chicago in 1965 and rode into Denver in 1971. Original president Alan Fine still runs things, but what makes Turin truly special is all the crazy imports from Italy and the great customer service. Its best-selling road bikes are Italian performers Bianchi (known as the “best bike in the world” and the oldest: The company was founded in Milan 125 years ago) and Wilier Triestina, among others.
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Best Bike Shop With Chocolate
2801 Downing Street
Bike shops can be chilly places where dude-bro hipster mechanics make customers feel stupid. Fancy chocolate shops can be snooty, too. Ski and snowboard stores — you guessed it, the same. Fortunately, cyclists, skiers, snowboarders and chocolate gourmands alike have a home at Chocolate Spokes, an unpretentious Five Points shop where community-minded decency reigns. As you wait for your bike or skis to be fixed, you can nosh on creative chocolate made in the U.S. The mechanics are skilled and friendly, whether helping you fix a flat tire, tuning up your rusty old bike, waxing your board or making major repairs; they’ll treat you like a real person while offering first-rate service.
Best Bike Shop With Espresso
Denver Bicycle Cafe
1308 East 17th Avenue
The Denver Bicycle Cafe sells and repairs bikes, but this shop is special because it serves up so much more: coffee, local brews and baked goods here and there, to be specific. Yes, there are beards everywhere, but you’ll love the speed at which these bike repairmen work. No matter how busy it gets, you’re always treated kindly and taken care of quickly. The bike shop is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 10 to 5 on Sundays. The cafe is open from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day and transforms into a beer hall from 3 p.m. to midnight, catering to damn near every kind of human, making it a popular hangout in the Uptown neighborhood. Bike, beer and coffee snobs come together as one, and if that isn’t Denver, we don’t know what is.
Best Mountain-Bike Trail
Elk Park Trailhead on Stagecoach Parkway, Evergreen
Tight switchbacks, long, slow, steady climbing, challenging steps and water bars, technical rocky sections through the trees — all hallmarks of a great gonzo mountain-bike ride. Bergen Peak is a 9.4-mile (round-trip) Jeffco open-space gem with a little bit of everything. It makes riders work hard for the rewards, which include killer views of the surrounding mountains from the flat stretch at the top, and a very, very fast descent. In addition to the Bergen Peak Trail itself, there are about a half-dozen other trails that can be linked up for more mileage and fast fun. But keep your head up: Elk and deer are everywhere here.