It’s the first week of November and around much of the country the fall colors are giving way to bare trees. In California, another arid autumn and the clockwork of strong seasonal winds has led to another set of raging wildfires, which are swallowing entire communities. But not here. Here, in Boulder, Colorado, the first snow of the season already seems like a distant memory—it was, after all, more than a month ago. Another weather system has just rolled through the area and dumped a few more inches of the white stuff. More snow is predicted for this coming weekend, but that’s not our concern right now. We’re using this window of dry days to check out some of the riding the area has to offer.
My host is Sean Coffey, the marketing director at Stages Cycling, the power meter maker that has called this area home since its founding in 2010. As a recent transplant to the area, Sean explains that he’s still adjusting to living at elevation. Every effort is a little bit harder. Especially when so many of the roads in the area head straight into the Front Range mountains, making them that much harder to resist.
Case in point. We meet at the bottom of a very short, but somewhat steep stretch of road known as NCAR, a 2-mile climb to the National Center for Atmospheric Research facility at the top of Table Mountain, which provides an incredible vista over Boulder at sunrise. With no terrain to obscure the view of the prairies to the east, you can almost see forever. After a couple of laps up and down NCAR, we decide to stop agitating the sole security guard making his way along the road and shooting measuring glances our way. So we head a couple of miles north to Flagstaff Mountain.
This climb starts almost without warning, with the straight road giving way to twists and switchbacks as we head higher. Evidence of the earlier snowfall is all around us, with the shady spots hiding plenty of sand and, worse, black ice. “Strava sucks around here,” Sean says when we get to a turn in the road. I check: Leipheimer, Gaimon, Dombrowski….
The pavement slowly gives way to more snow and slush, so we decide to turn around. It is time to head back to town and check out some of the flatter dirt roads the area has to offer. Plus, it is time for another coffee. As we gingerly make our way around the slippery bends, someone points out that Taylor Phinney owns the Strava segment for the descent, averaging more than 39 mph. Yes, Strava sucks around here.