Technically, the function of the new Highland Bridge is to connect the Commons Park area with the Highland neighborhood. And its form -- 320 foot-long, triple-rib beams arcing 70 feet over I-25 -- is designed as another display of downtown's emerging architectural beauty. But for skateboarders, the bridge is simply a kick-ass new spot. The concrete banks that anchor the bridge's pylons serve as natural ramps for all manner of flip tricks, and the plaza beneath the eastern base of the arch has ledges and manual pads that encourage creative skateboarding experiments that must be executed around cyclists and stroller-pushing yuppies. That's what we call bridging the gap.
With skatepark construction becoming a more formalized industry, it's easy to forget the sport's underground, do-it-yourself roots. But some of the most fun, inspired skate spots are built by the skaters themselves, wielding hammers and concrete trowels -- which is why the Colorado Coalition for Public Skateparks is campaigning to rebuild a concrete skatepark thirty miles east of Denver in Bennett. Skater volunteers from across the Front Range will do the work, under the supervision of renowned skatepark builder Team Pain. To raise the $30,000 needed for a bowl and street course, the squad has been selling custom pool tiles for $40 a section; it's already up to $12,000 in donations and grants. And, really, if you want something done right...
It was fated to be: The husband-and-wife team who run Colorado Skate University met in a skatepark. Their shared passion inspired them to open a school, which offers we-come-to-you lessons for boarders of all ages seeking to learn the ins and ollies of just about everything, from staying on your board to total super-shredding. And because half of the teaching staff is female and well-versed in the hardships that girls can face in the skateboarding world, the school is especially supportive of those learners. CSU also offers equipment rentals for beginners and birthday-party packages, complete with chocolate skateboards and goodie bags. That's sooo radical.
For serious BMX riders, the V isn't really a secret, but rather a legend going back nearly twenty years, to when freestyle bikers first began building dirt jumps in an Aurora gulley. Set amid tall trees and accessed only by a bike path, the spot's obscurity helped it survive while other locations were erased by development or closed off because of landowner liability issues. Not that there's anything safe about the V. Jumps include doubles that span thirty feet and a steep rhythm section made hard and quick by years of rolling rubber. The V has played host to local pros like Brian "Yellow" Gavagan, Clay Brown and Troy McMurray, as well as a slew of lesser-knowns and amateurs who marvel at the main jump, which is named for the V-shaped ravine that spits riders toward a perilous ten-foot step-up. Yes, V is for victory -- but also for victim.
Skate City Arvada
Exercise is a vital component of any healthy lifestyle. But where do you turn after you've exhausted your tolerance for running, bicycling and Pi-Yo? US on Wheels. Show up at 10:30 any Wednesday morning, fork over $4, strap on some wheels and get moving! The ninety-minute Roller Fitness program will tone your muscles and increase your heart rate -- and since rollerskating is low-impact, your joints will thank you later. For those who haven't skated backward since fifth grade, US on Wheels also offers beginner skating classes.
A Penny for your thoughts: "The world is a happier place when you ride a Penny Farthing bike." That's the motto at this Victorian-era cycling museum in Golden, which has one of the world's most comprehensive collections of "big wheel" equipment and memorabilia, including more than sixty classic bikes, a cycling library, a headlamp display and a mock 1880s repair shop. The Golden Oldy Cyclery is the big baby of Steve Stevens, who's come far on his own Penny Farthing high wheel, a model he considers much more efficient than all the fancy wheels of the 21st century. Golden Oldy is open by appointment or during occasional open houses; give Stevens a call and wheel on over.
SkyVenture Colorado
Who says you need sky to skydive? For anyone who's ever had an Icarus-like urge to sail through the atmosphere -- but then had second thoughts because of that whole jumping-out-of-the-plane thing -- SkyVenture has the answer. After a brief training session and suit-up, you can fly through the air with the greatest of ease -- ease of mind, that is -- in the indoor skydiving facility's patented wind tunnel. Prices start at about fifty bucks for the basic experience, and gift cards are available in increments of $50 or $100. Geronimo!
It might not be the Empire State Building, but the Wells Fargo Center -- also known as Denver's "cash register" -- still has more than 1,000 steps stretching to the top. That's the rigorous course of the Run the Register race every February; it's a good way to burn off calories after the punishing holiday season. And all your huffing and puffing will help someone else breathe easier: Proceeds benefit the American Lung Association of Colorado, and the last run raised exactly $207,887.93 for research, clean-air initiatives, lung-health workshops and smoking-cessation programs. Just try to top that.
While some zealots are determined to climb every fourteener in the state, more reasonable types are happy to simply scale our highest peak: Mount Elbert, which reaches a whopping 14,433 feet. If you're looking for a reason to ascend to greater heights, you won't find a better one than the annual Climb for Cancer Foundation's 50-50-1, a nationwide effort that sends teams in each state to the highest point in that state on June 23. (Fifty states, fifty peaks, one goal -- get it?) Forget how easy people in Rhode Island have it, and focus on the fact that proceeds from the climb (each team should raise at least $5,000) go toward cancer-research projects and Camp Sunshine, a Florida facility for kids with cancer. Things are looking up.
Downtown Aquarium
For a landlocked state, Colorado has a lot of residents who like to dive and snorkel -- and not many places for them to do it. But now you can get down at the Downtown Aquarium, where Swim With the Fish, Dive With the Fish and Dive With the Sharks allow you to do some underwater communing with our fine-finned friends. The snorkeling program, Swim With the Fish, is open to kids ages six to nine and runs $75. The other two programs are more advanced and require each participant to present a valid SCUBA certification card from a recognized agency (as well as $175). Still, this is the kind of swimming with the fishes we like to encourage.

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