Saturday, September 4, 2010

South Platte and Clear Creek Bike Ride

This summer hasn't been the biking riding summer I had hoped it would be.  For whatever reason I just didn't get out and do a lot of miles this summer.  And now that we are starting to feel the chill in the air in the morning, I know I only have a limited amount of time left to ride this year before the snow starts to fall.

So this morning I got up out of bed determined to do a good ride.  Normally, I will gear up here at home and then head out the door and hit one of the trails near home.  Instead of doing my normal ride I decided to throw my bike on the top of my car and ride some new trails. 

Despite the fact that today is the big Rocky Mountain Showdown (CU vs CSU at the Invesco Field) I figured I was going to head to downtown Denver and leave the car near Confluence Park.  Even though I was on the road and reached down town by 8:20AM, there were already people parking near Invesco Field tailgating.  Amazing!

I ended up parking in a free lot near the Flagship REI store.  I quickly geared up and got my bike off the roof and headed on out.  My goal for the day was to ride as far north as the South Platte and Clear Creek Trail junction.  I estimated that this would give me about a 20 mile roundtrip ride.

(My car with bike on top in the parking lot near REI.)

 (View looking towards REI from the Confluence Park parking lot.)

At that hour of the morning there weren't that many people on the trail yet.  In some ways that is good in some ways that is bad.  It is good in fact that I the trail pretty much to myself.  The bad part is that I had the trail to myself - LOL!  The South Platte trail goes through some rough areas and their are lots of homeless people along the trail.  So in that respect being by yourself isn't the best thing.  Thankfully I didn't have any issues!

The first 2 or 3 miles of the ride is through some very heavy industrial areas.  The trail goes underneath numerous rail tracks bridges as much of the area surrounding the trail is the Union Pacific marshalling yard.  Once clear of the marshalling yard the trail goes underneath I-70 and then emerges into an area that has some industrial development but also a far amount of open space. 

(A BNSF train on one of the many railroad tracks near the bike trail.)

At one point while on this section of the trail I came across 3 wild turkeys sauntering along the ride.  I was absolutely amazed and shocked to see wild turkeys there!  Once they realized I was there they took off one-by-one flying across the river.  Yes I learned that wild turkeys can indeed fly!!

(Not my wild turkeys but some wading birds in the South Platte.)

I continued heading north along the trail, crossing until I-270 and I-76.  Shortly after I crossed under I-76 I came across the junction of the South Platte Trail with the Clear Creek Trail.  Instead of continuing on the South Platte trail, I decided to head west on the Clear Creek trail.  I often see the Clear Creek Trail as I am driving back from Boulder. The trail passes underneath the junction of Highway 36 and I-25 and I have always wanted to ride there - so I decided today was the day.

Riding your bike underneath the intersection of some of the largest highways in the state of Colorado is an experience.  There are countless trucks and cars whizzing by at 60 or 70 mph about 10 or 12 feet above your head.  It makes you realize how busy our interstates are!

After going underneath I-25 I rode for another 3 or 4 miles further up the Clear Creek trail.  This trail goes through a much less developed landscape.  For most of the ride I was coasting through groves of cottonwoods and aspens that grow along the banks of Clear Creek.

I decided to turn back when the odometer on my GPS reached 11 miles.  This of course meant that I had another 11 miles to get back to Confluence Park and my car.  As I headed back toward the city I was treated to wonderful views of downtown and surrounding area. 

(A view of downtown Denver in the distance.)

 (Now I know where much of our electricity comes from.  This is an Xcel Energy plant near the trail.)

 When I arrived back at the car, the partying and tailgating for the CU/CSU game was in full swing.  There were people every where, so I decided to continuing going South on the trail for a bit until I got near Invesco Field.  It certainly looked like everyone was gathering for the game and that they were having a good time!

I hope everyone is having a great weekend!

Thanks and peace to all! ~ J.

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