It can be tough to explore too far outside your commute when your day is structured around a 9-5, but at the bookends of your workdays are limitless opportunities to get outside and be active right in your backyard (#RIMBY).
When he's not driving his converted cargo van around the state, Mountain Standard Ambassador, Alton Richardson, rips his single speed mountain bike (because who needs gears...) up and down Colorado's Front Range. But when it's time for him to settle into the editing cave, he always finds time in the day to hop on his favorite RIMBY trails in Boulder, CO.
Valmont Bike Park
The Valmont Bike Park in Boulder is one of, if not the best, publicly maintained bike parks in the US. Sitting on a 42-acre plot, this network of trails, obstacles, tracks and loops has every type of riding terrain to practice, tune and hone yourself on the bike.
You can dip your toes in on warm up loops, progress to mini-downhill flow tracks, then ride full-commitment kickers and wall rides once you hit rockstar status. Riding all the main trails can be over 7 miles of total riding without repeating any downhill sections!
Rating: Green/Blue/Black. 4 green trails, 4 blue, 4 black... something for everyone.
What to expect: A balanced mix of beginners, and dudes going bigger and faster than I ever will. Endless opportunities to practice. Double check the Valmont Bike Park Facebook page for updates about trail closures and group events going on at the park.
Spring Brook Loops
Spring Brook offers some of the closest trails to town if you're looking to get a quick fix of dirt and downhill. A mix of gravel trail and semi-technical single track climbs make this a great trail system to test the skills you picked up at Valmont.
If you're looking for a gentle start to your ride, the easiest way is begin at the Doudy Draw trailhead. A short but sweet warmup climb will land you at the fork for the Spring Brook Loops, where you'll link into a fun and flowy system with incredible views of the Flatirons.
Rating: Green/Blue. Awesome intro riding with minor technical exposure.
What to expect: Bike traffic is both ways, but going clockwise on Spring Brook is preferred. Keep an eye out, and yield to hikers, runners, and horses.
Once privately owned, Betasso Preserve is now monitored and maintained by Boulder County Parks and Open Space staff and volunteers. This trail system sits on a fantastic piece of land just outside of downtown Boulder, and is the second closest single track to town.
Squeeze in a quick morning ride before work on the 3.4 mile Canyon Loop, or meet up with the Benjamin Loop via the Loop Link to finish the day at 7.4 miles. Once you've built up your endurance and stamina, test your legs by riding up the Super Betasso trail from town. The full circuit is a 16.2 mile pleasure ride.
Rating: Green/Blue. The more interesting terrain is tucked back in the Benjamin Loop.
What to expect: Bike traffic is one way only and changes every few weeks. Trails are also closed to bikes on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Find the current direction and trail schedule posted at the trailhead, or on the Boulder County website. Watch for hikers and horses. If you ride up on a horse, get off your bike and stand on the side of the trail. You can ask the rider what they would like you to do or simply stay out of the way and let them pass. Be prepared for no water sources at Betasso. Pack enough to stay hydrated!
Tips for the trail
Land managers, local bike shops, and volunteer groups all work hard to maintain Colorado's incredible trail systems. Please be considerate and respectful while on the trail, and follow Leave No Trace practices.
Stick to the trail: Check trail regulations before assuming you can bike there. Unauthorized trails are unauthorized for a reason - keep the single track single.
Fuel up: Don't forget the calories! Pack appropriately for snacking during and after your ride. Never underestimate how much water you'll be drinking and sweating out. A Lifestraw is a super handy, and inexpensive piece of gear to add to your pack list. If you find water, you can get a drink.
Dispose of waste properly: Use the restroom before riding, and pack out all waste.
Leave what you find: Check your clothing, bike, and gear for non-native species between rides.
Be considerate: Respect the experience of other trail users. Ride only on designated trails.
Plan ahead and prepare: Familiarize yourself with the most up-to-date trail information. We like to use mtbproject.com.
Being able to pedal through a hard section of trail, commit to a drop or rip a flow section faster than the last time all takes mental training...commitment, and fast twitch reactionary signals that allow you to simply react, rather than think.