Chocolate Spokes
Chocolate Spokes Facebook

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.

The Urban Cyclist
Google Maps

"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.

Turin Bike Shop
Turin Bike Shop Facebook

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.

Denver Bicycle Cafe

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.

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.

Elk Park Trailhead on Stagecoach Parkway, Evergreen

Readers' Choice: Buffalo Creek Recreation Area

Not only does Esters Neighborhood Pub serves some of the best pizza in town, but it's also designed to maximize the enjoyment of sports, with TVs visible from every vantage point and a hip neighborhood feel. Need a break from the cheering? Head out to the inviting deck for some fresh air and the quiet of the surrounding Virginia Village neighborhood. And if you have a big group and want some private time, the back room, called Sully's, has eight TVs and communal tables — perfect for a party. Brunch is the bomb, with a killer plate of chicken and waffles, and beer is the preferred beverage here, with 22 craft versions on tap.

1950 South Holly Street

303-955-4904

estersdenver.com

Readers' Choice: Blake Street Tavern

Watching the game puts us in a competitive mood, so when there's a break in the action, we like to be at Gibby's, which not only has pool tables, air hockey, shuffleboard and video games, but also a nice selection of board games. Out in that big back yard, there's volleyball, soccer, cornhole and beer pong. It all feels like a get-together with friends from the neighborhood. No matter where you are inside, you can see a TV, and the pub-grub menu — including a top-notch Cubano and shards of deep-fried onion and jalapeño called "toothpicks" — go well with the twelve beers on tap.

Readers' Choice: Blake Street Tavern

Spot Bar & Grill
Eric Gruneisen

When we're watching the big game, we don't need fancy grub and a wine list that looks like a copy of War and Peace. All we want is a nice, juicy burger and homemade onion rings, maybe some spicy, crispy wings or nachos with the works and, of course, good, cheap beer. Spot Bar & Grill has all of that and more, including TVs mounted everywhere and a welcoming neighborhood vibe — and $2 Coors Banquet bottles and generous $5 Jameson shots all day, every day. Also, about those wings: Spot offers several sauce options, but the smoked wings slathered in a sweet, earthy barbecue sauce are amazing.

Readers' Choice: Blake Street Tavern

Project Rise Fitness
Project Rise Denver

If you like results, high-fives and post-exercise beers, head to Project Rise Fitness for a high-intensity workout suitable for seasoned athletes and newbies alike. Owner Caleb Sommer delivers a brutal but fun cardio program drawing on aerobics, gymnastics and strength training. Sweat sessions are coupled with nutrition coaching, too, for a comprehensive approach promoting long-term health. Forget about fitness plateaus: Like snowflakes and Lady Gaga's hairstyles, no two Rise workouts are exactly the same. Variety is good, but it's the unique community of fitness enthusiasts that'll keep you coming back for more. Between wine-workout parties, weekend partner drills and Friday night sweat sessions with catered food and beverages, Rise is more than a gym — it's a close-knit clan of welcoming wellness junkies.

Way out west in the Four Corners region of Colorado lies the town of Mancos, a cultural gem on the edge of Mesa Verde National Park that's not only a gateway to several of the nation's most treasured archaeological hot spots, but also a real, working cowtown situated in the valley made famous by the Westerns of Louis L'Amour. To counter that, it's also a town of artisans and summer balloon fests and art fairs. And Mancos is a stop on two of Colorado's designated scenic byways: For a true Rocky Mountain adventure, make your way to Mancos via the breathtaking San Juan Skyway, rolling past mining towns and hot springs and over the cliff-hanging Million Dollar Highway, or opt for the Trail of the Ancients, a Four Corners loop with stops at Mesa Verde, Lowry Pueblo, the Anasazi Heritage Center and Hovenweep.

mesaverdecountry.com

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