Back when life was a bit rustic along the Front Range, savvy tourists tested their roadsters on the challenging-but-not-impossible byways. One favorite was the forty-mile Lariat Loop, linking Golden, Morrison, Bear Creek Canyon and Red Rocks. Last year, a group revived this tradition, giving it a twist: Participants must compete on a mystery course and defeat obstacles. The event returns in a cloud of dust on June 22.
If you see mountain bikers around Colorado clutching colorful, waterproof plastic-coated contour maps, chances are they're counting on Boulder's Latitude 40 to steer them. The Boulder County Mountain Bike Map is now in its seventh edition, and the Front Range map -- with 101 rides on one side -- stretches from Fort Collins to Chatfield.

Best Mountain-Bike Ride for a Secret Squirrel

Hall Ranch

The 3,206 acres of backcountry purchased by Boulder County Parks and Open Space in 1993 are required to balance wildlife and recreation. That means there's plenty to see along Hall Ranch's dozen miles of multi-use trails, about half of which are open to bikers, hikers and horseback riders. But you'll need to study the open-space rules at www.co.boulder.co.us/openspace before you learn the secret code word to download a map.
For sixteen years, the Tandem Club of Colorado has been promoting togetherness on bicycles built for two with rallies, rides and fun events. Last month's annual meeting, held at REI's flagship store in Denver, has attracted about fifty people of all ages. This season's events include the Tour de Denver on June 9 -- a 55-mile ride from Aurora to Confluence Park and back -- and a seven-day round trip from Leadville and back, which winds through Glenwood Springs and Salida, covering distances of thirty to seventy miles a day. Rides can be any time, anywhere, but helmets are mandatory. Buddy up and take a ride.
The ten-mile, single-track Hewlett Gulch trail, which starts at the Poudre Park picnic area on the Cache la Poudre River, is full of gnarly challenges like twists and turns and rocky stream crossings. But the initial 3.1-mile climb up the appropriately named Flower Road is flanked by beautiful wildflowers, a soothing sight for sore thighs.

Best Place to Get a Bike Fitting by a Tour de France Racer and Olympian

Wheat Ridge Cyclery

Wheat Ridge Cyclery
Ron Kiefel finished six out of seven of his Tour de France tries, won a bronze medal in the 1984 Olympics for a team time trial and has probably ridden more than 300,000 miles during his cycling career -- which makes him especially suited to understand all the nuances of riding bicycles. Kiefel believes getting a custom bicycle fitting is important for anyone who is serious about cycling: With the right frame, a cyclist can ride better, faster and longer. Ron and the twelve other certified bicycle fitters who work at Wheat Ridge Cyclery choose a frame best suited for your frame, and with over 1,000 bicycles in stock, it's not hard to find a fit. Even if you're not in the market for an $8,000 high-performance cycle, you can visit when they pedal their wisdom at free monthly bicycle-maintenance clinics.
Say hi to lowriders: After you've seen a decked-out lowrider bicycle, regular bikes just look like plain, boring, single scoops of vanilla ice cream. Kids go crazy over lowriders' smooth lines, colorfully airbrushed frames, whitewall tires and other accessories, such as headlights and steering wheels. When we stopped by recently to survey the goods at Dragon Lowriders, there were at least five kids in the shop ogling the many pairs of spiffy chrome rims, gleaming, twisting front forks and velvet banana seats; the photographs of colorful, customized lowrider bikes lining the store's windows gave them plenty of ideas. Dragon Lowriders started back in 1994, when owner Santiago Mondragon had trouble ordering parts for his son's custom lowrider. He opened the shop in an empty spot next to his frame shop on Santa Fe Drive, and, eight years later, the shop is busier than ever. Take a little trip.
You've seen them on TV, and you know they gather important information about severe weather that can save lives. You think they might be a little bit nuts, and you wish you could be one of them: Storm Chasers, the guys and gals who go out of their way to find and photograph tornadoes up close and personal. Now you can give it a try, by signing up with Storm Chasing Adventure Tours. For the past five years, severe-storm expert Todd Thorn and his band of merry madmen have been providing tornado tours to people from around the world who are in search of the ultimate adventure vacation. Last year, the tours sighted seven tornadoes and dozens of storm cells; this year, Storm Chasing Tours has added a two-way satellite Internet system in the tornado van for full-time, real-time weather-data access. The storm season starts in May in Texas and Oklahoma, then moves to Colorado and Nebraska in June and July, and Storm Chasing Adventure Tours has ten tours planned to catch as many of them as possible. More information and registration are available at www.stormchasing.com.
Those who think they've seen everything the Stock Show has to offer should check out the Mexican Rodeo Extravaganza, which gives a colorful makeover to bull riding and fighting, trick roping and the like. And that's not to mention the Paso de la Muerte, also known as the "death jump." Look before you leap.
Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be cowgirls: They might turn into bull riders instead. At least, that's what happened to Ashlin Spence, aka Flip, of Fort Collins. The sixteen-year-old Poudre High School student was the only girl to compete in the bull-riding event in the Salt Lake ProAm Olympics Rodeo -- out of about 1,000 competitors. Flip was also the 2001 junior champion of the Wild Bunch Bullriding series. She's broken some bones, bruised up some ribs and busted out a front tooth, but Flip plans to keep on riding about a hundred bulls a year. You go, girl.

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