Good Guidebooks: Biking

2009 November 10
by David Schlichter

Colorado is home to some of the best road cycling and mountain biking in the world.  Whether you enjoy the long, flat rides of the plains, the epic climbs and descents over mountain passes, or the thrill of riding through pristine forests on dirt trails barely bigger than the size of your tire, there’s something for all types of cyclists here.  We’re continuing our three-part series on the best guidebooks in and around Denver today with our three favorite biking guidebooks in the region.

512MBYCGQML._SL160_Cycling Colorado’s Mountain Passes by Kurt Magsamen is fantastic.  In addition to providing quality directions on over 30 of the highest paved mountain passes in Colorado (don’t you just love living here?), he includes very useful details often such as road and traffic conditions, common wind patterns, and spots to watch out for where the road might gets dangerously narrow or windy.  The book has several additional features that we especially enjoy.  First, it lists the maximum grade and average grades for every ride.  This helps riders determine how challenging a ride will be.  Second, to help riders even more, he assigns a difficulty rating on a simple 1-5 scale for each ride.  Third, he provides an elevation gain/loss profile so that you can visually see the hills you will face on your ride.  Last, he lists a “Sleep and Supplies” section so that you can be better prepared for multi-day trips, in case of an emergency, or simply if you just hungry.  If you’re a road cyclist who loves to get up into the mountains, you’d be very happy with this $14 purchase.

41TH39TF2ML._SL160_Mountain Biking Denver and Boulder (A Falcon Guide) by Bob D’Antonio is awesome.  The rides in it are great, and most rides in the book are less than an hour’s drive away from Denver and Boulder.  The “Access” directions in it will get you to the trailheads with ease.  Maps accompany all of the 49 rides as do elevation gain/loss profiles, which not only give you a picture of the hills to expect, but also allow you to better decide in which direction to go (do you like to start with a big climb or end with one?).  A simple 1-5 difficulty rating scale also elps you determine which rides are most appropriate for you.  The last thing we like about this book is that it is perfectly sized.  It is big enough to have enough mountain biking trails to keep you occupied for months, and it is also small enough to fit into a pocket even while riding.  There is another Falcon Guide which is twice as long and features the best rides from Ft. Collins to Colorado Springs, but this book is about half as thick, almost half as expensive ($12), includes more routes, and is just plain Good.  We love it.

51KBGGN2PBL._SL160_Road Biking Colorado’s Front Range (A Falcon Guide) by Robert Hurst has 32 great road rides for cyclists of all ability levels.  The book includes “rambles”–less than 35 miles on gentle terrain, “cruises”–25-50 miles on moderate terrain, “challenges”–40-60 miles on tough terrain, and “classics”–60+ miles on tough or very tough terrain.   The mile-by-mile directions are very detailed, and each ride also has a longer narrative explaining what the ride is like from start to finish.  The maps in this book are quite Good, leaving little room for getting lost.  With information ranging from traffic and road hazards to accommodations and nearby restaurants as an added bonus, the $18 book is a definite keeper for the road cyclist looking to expand his or her list of favorite rides.

These are our favorite biking guidebooks in the region.  All of these and the hiking guidebooks featured yesterday can be found in the Good Books section of our website.  Tomorrow we will be featuring the best rock climbing books in the region.  Some of them are incredible books!  We can’t wait to bring them to you.

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