By Dede Barry

We’ve spent much of our lives traveling the world by bicycle and there are not many places in the world that can compete with Boulder’s cycling roots, routes and community. On many levels, it has been the epicenter of cycling in the USA since the 1980s. The university town of 110,000 people, has a vibrant, active and innovative population and lies at the base of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. Heading west from the town centre, the roads climb to the snow capped 14,000 foot peaks; to the east there is expansive prairie farmland that stretches to the horizon.

In the 1980’s many of the top American professionals who rode for Team 7-Eleven, the first North American team to compete in the Tour de France, lived in Boulder, CO as did many of the best women cyclists, including 1984 Olympic Champion Connie Carpenter Phinney. Today, the mountain roads, the altitude and the liberal town continue to draw cyclists from all over the world.

In March 2017, Rapha opened a store with their affiliated Cycle Club, in Boulder. In late July, Rapha asked Michael and I to attend an event to celebrate the Tour de France and participate in a women’s cycling challenge, Rapha Women’s 100. Having lived in Boulder for over a decade, it was nice for us to see how the town has changed, how it hasn’t and to reconnect with old friends.

Over three days we rode several of our favorite routes in the mountains. Each day, we ascended on gravel and tarmac to nearly 10,000 ft of altitude, stopped for snacks at the local cafes, and descended down.
The Rapha Cycle Club is inclusive, as anybody can join the rides. The rides are led by accomplished cyclists, several who have raced at the highest level. Along the way, the ride leaders keep the group together and gave helpful advice. The clubhouse/shop serves coffee and pastries as the group meets and when cold drinks and savory food as they return.

For the women’s 100, two routes were offered, one west in the mountains and one in the rolling hills North of the city. 45 women joined the mountain route, which climbed over 5,500 feet on a combination of pavement and gravel. The route, made tougher by a storm along the peak to peak highway, was challenging, but fun. The majority of the group stuck together in spite of the rain and mud. We challenged ourselves and supported each other and kept it fun, stopped for snack and drinks en route in Jamestown and Gold Hill. When we reached Boulder, we cooled and cleaned the mud off our legs in the Creek, while enjoying a beer or two. A post ride pizza party at the Rapha cafe capped the day off perfectly.

Rapha Boulder has an excellent atmosphere, is a community hub and offers inclusive rides.

Rapha Rising, Tour de France inspired ride July 22 at the top of Flagstaff Mountain. Photo by Kevin Scott Batchelor

We loved riding with this young fella. Pretty sure he was the first 12 year old to ride the mountainous (6,500 feet of climbing), gravel loop and he did it with such class and ease on the climbs and descents.

An evening party and Q&A with former professionals, Pete Lopinto, Michael and Dede Barry.

A few of the women who joined the Women’s 100 ride on Sunday

The Women’s 100 on Super James climb.Photo by Liz Barcheck

It was great to reunite with old friends.

And lovely to meet new friends. Photo by Liz Barecheck

Ladies in pink.

On the Peak to Peak Highway, we weathered a mountain storm.

Dirty, but happy.

Snacks and drinks at the iconic Gold Hill General Store. Photo by Liz Barcheck

Descending Sunshine Canyon. Photo by Liz Barcheck

Washing the mud off our bikes. Photo by Liz Barcheck

Boulder Creek, cooling the legs and enjoying a beer. Photo by Liz Barcheck

Thanks to former teammate and Rapha Ride Coordinator, Meredith Miller, for leading the rides on some fantastic routes.

3 thoughts on “RCC Boulder

  1. Michael,
    The Rapha event looks fun. The green Mariposa looks lovely. Couldn’t help noticing your arm looked battle bruised. You haven’t been falling off your bike again have you?
    Just ridden a lovely 5 hours in the hills around Girona.

    1. Hi Tim–Great to hear from you and nice you’re in Girona riding. The Rapha event was good fun–so nice to get back in the mountains on the bike. When are you coming to Toronto for a visit? Hope all is well and enjoy your time in Girona. Cheers,
      Ps–still a kid at heart, hence the scrapes.

  2. Hello Michael and Dede,

    As it turned out I was in Boulder 2 weeks before you did this ride. I was on a business trip in Denver and took 2 days off to see Boulder and go on a hike with a friend Rocky mountain national park. On Saturday I was wondering around town checking out the bike shops and farmers market and came upon the Rapha store and the TDF was on the big screens. It was a great little visit and interesting to hear of the cycling history in Boulder. My next visit to Denver will have to include another trip to Boulder and get a bike this time. Cheers Dave (wishing I was back in Girona now)

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