Are you tired of staring at your perfectly good eBike or traditional bike sitting in the corner of the garage? Desperately wanting to go for a ride but concerned about the winter conditions? If you’re like us, we jump at every good opportunity to ride our bike. When the sun is shining, it’s hard not to find a way to get the legs moving.
Bicycle riding in the winter can be tricky, especially if your bike has not been properly equipped for the weather. Check out our blog on how to winterize your eBike if you do plan to ride during winter weather. On days when the sun is shining and the last snow storm hasn’t occurred for a week or so you can expect that the paths will be more tacky and suitable for riding and won’t necessarily require winter modifications to the bike. Keep in mind that if you are constantly riding through ice and snow, your components will damage more quickly with the constant moisture in the derailleur, fork, brakes, etc.
Christina and Neal took their bikes out for a spin in early January up Lookout Mountain before the winter weather hit, making for decent riding conditions, as most the snow was plowed off the road. The uphill riding was certainly challenging, and required minimal layers, however the downhill portion of the ride was very fast and chilly. While riding, it is important to start cold to end hot, but if you plan to ride up anything steep to immediately turn around and ride down, make sure to bring warm gloves and ample layering.
We recommend the following bike paths and trails during the Winter months:
The team here at GTC frequently uses the South Platte to commute to and from work. The path is nice for this time of year as it is exposed and in the sunshine. Start at GoodTurn Cycles and head 15 miles north to REI in downtown Denver, or head south from the shop and ride 6 miles to Chatfield State Park for a more scenic route. As the path heads towards Chatfield, you may notice spots with more ice and snow so keep your eye out and avoid these areas! You can park at the Carson Nature Center and hop on the Mary Carter Greenway Trail, which borders the South Platte River. You can also stop by the GoodTurn Cycles shop in Aspen Grove beforehand and purchase our best selling map for guidance – Bicycling the Greater Denver Area Route Map published by the Denver Bicycle Touring Club available for $8.50.
Cherry Creek Bike Trail
Parts of the Cherry Creek Bike Trail are plowed during the winter months, however be wary of icy spots that you may find along the way. Following a large snow storm, the first 24-48 hours can be risky to take your eBike or traditional bike out on, but Denver’s bright sun will give the pavement enough heat to dry itself even if the temperatures drop below freezing. Cherry Creek Regional Trail is a 40-mile route beginning in downtown Denver and connecting suburban and more rural areas of Arapahoe and Douglas Counties. Most of the path consists of a concrete surface, but you will also notice sections of primarily gravel and road at the rural southern end. In the mornings, the paths are often plowed around 6am or 7am, however some shadier spots will keep snowpack lingering. Spots under bridges can also be a little bit dicey and difficult to pass through. Get off your bike and walk if necessary.
This bikeway parallels Highway 470, and offers views of the Colorado foothills, allowing access to destinations like Chatfield Lake, Bear Creek Lake Park, and Green Mountain. You can also get connected to other local trails like Cherry Creek Trail, the High Line Canal, Mary Carter Greenway, and Bear Creek Trail. Head towards Golden via C470 on this pathway and you’ll gain over 1,000 feet of elevation in the process. You can expect this path to be plowed anytime there is more than 1 inch of snow on the ground, but you still want to watch out for slippery spots with unexpected ice patches. This path is not well lit, so if you plan to be out past 4pm or 5pm, always bring a light with you.
North Table Mountain
Are you craving mountain biking in the winter season? The team at GoodTurn Cycles is right there with you. Consider taking your mountain bike to North Table during the winter months! Although this single-tack trail is not paved or plowed, it’s a great spot to ride if there hasn’t been a recent snow storm. Neal, Adam, Ryan, and Christina had the opportunity to hit the trail last week, and were elated that the single-track was nearly bone-dry. This is even better when it’s cooler outside, as the sun can be painfully warm during the summer months due to the direct sunlight. Most sections are clear of snow except for the most northern part of the North Table Loop Trail. However, if the trails are muddy and wet from a recent snow storm, consider riding elsewhere as this can damage the trails for future use. We parked at North Table Mountain West Trailhead and followed the North Table Mountain Park West Trail Loop.
Photo Credit: Jefferson County Colorado Open Space
The biggest hurdles with winter riding are the weather and the path conditions. If you do happen to ride on an unexpected patch of ice, shift your weight back and do not make any sudden turns with the handlebars. Snow has more traction than ice, so if you suspect there is ice on the pathway in front of you, and there is an option to ride on the snow, you may want to take the snowy path. The safest suggestion would be to dismount and walk your bike through the snow. Keep in mind social distancing and masks are required on most paths. Happy and safe riding this Winter season!
Check out the blog post below to find out how to prevent flat tires during the winter months as well as the upcoming Spring and Summer!