Boulder, Platinum Paradise
Boulder Creek Trail at Broadway, one of many off road bike paths.
What a great visit to Boulder this week! The city has been on my list, yours too?
I wanted to observe this advanced sub-species of Homo Sapiens that’s invented and implemented so many transportation enhancements to earn the ultimate in recognition by the League of American Bicyclists.
My wife wants a quiet relaxing vacation; me, active. That puts my 15 year-old in the tie breaking position. He wants single-track mountain bike trails, but I’m too brittle of bones to join him, so how will this family unit enjoy their 5 days in Colorado?
Start by renting bikes at University Bicycle, something for whatever your interests – hybrid for me, mountain bike for Jr – don’t know how to describe my wife’s choice – ‘heavy’ might do. And with a little advice and a free map we’re off to find the Boulder Creek off-road trail through town on our way to the Dragonfly Trail where my son will find lots of jumps – the family compromise; not single-track, but close and accessible – something I can do, too. We’ll visit each day.
I have an old friend in town, Howard Blitz. I only discovered he was in Boulder when he started following the blog. It didn’t take much on his part to convince me that Spring Break would be the ideal time for a visit. He’s riding every day along Boulder’s many trails – both to commute and to recreate, up into the hills or on the outskirts of the city. Howard will take us for a 23-mile loop around Boulder which is a fabulous perspective – the views on the way back of the snow-covered Rockies are sublime, but it’s the intersections of so many of these cement-paved bike paths that intrigue. Out past the apartment complexes then beyond to Boulder’s light industrial – it’s starting to sink in – these city dwellers have great choices; they can bike to town, to work, for fun, for business, to university, too, and to do it car-free. It shows in Howard, his 2.5 years in Platinum Paradise and he’s healthy and trim; the condition I wish I was in, could picture myself becoming if I were to relocate…
Monday’s a busy day. After the big ride I have time to cool down then I’m walking – here in CdM distances of 1 mile or less are an excuse to stroll. I’m on my way to an interview with Bikes Belong President Tim Blumenthal. (Does that make the whole trip a business expense? Look for the interview in about a week.) I soon learn that riding my bike to Bikes Belong wouldn’t have been sucking up – it’s too warm for walking in this blazing Colorado sunshine and I’m carrying a new down jacket that I had to buy the day before because it gets cold real fast here in the shadows of the Rockies. By the time I reach his office his receptionist laughs at my reaction when she offers me a drink of water; I’m parched!
Tim’s ready for me even though I’m 25 minutes early. A quick tour of the office and we sit down for the interview. He’s focused and on-message: the country needs more of the benefits cycling offers. At whatever pace the movement grows, and there’s some doubt about the current budget-crafters in Washington, he’s confident and he’s having an influence.
On the way home from the interview it’s only hotter and I’m weighed down with all the swag Tim pressed into my outstretched arms: sweat shirts and t-shirts, and “it’s Colorado, you need a hat,” then lots of brochures, none of which fits in my small shoulder bag – which won’t stay on my shoulder, constantly slipping down to my hooked elbow. I must have looked a sight. When I stop one block away to shuffle the load from my left to the right – ah, that’s better – but it feels surprisingly more comfortable. And why is that approaching car slowing? He’s making eye-contact and the passenger’s side window rolls down, “you dropped something!” I turn and see he’s correct and the interaction leaves me feeling like I’m not walking along Coast Hwy; it was a nice gesture, this stranger pausing to share his concern.
That’s it for walking; next trip I’m biking to. A speaker at the University, Brad Feld, local billionaire and venture capitalist, is sharing his life story to an audience of entrepreneurs. I’ll need to stop and pick up a tail light to match my head light and then I’m off in the dusky twilight to find this auditorium; my first visit to the CU campus.
Usually it’s Brad who asks the questions, but here moderators Brad Bernthal, left, and Jill Van Matre interview him.
I know part of Brad’s story; I follow his blog and I’ve seen him speak before. Observing his affect on the audience is half the fun – they adore him, this local hero. (Read more about Brad’s life story on theFrankPetersShow.)
Then it’s time for my not-too-late-night-ride back to the hotel. Along the Boulder Creek Trail again, on a bike path of perfectly smooth, gently winding curves where I contemplate Brad’s themes that meant the most to me; certainly his zest for life, but other impressions of this whole Boulder experience, cruising car-free routes along burbling creeks, taking stock of the local entrepreneurship scene and I measure it quite rich, this city of 100,000 where an active, healthy lifestyle combines with pedestrian and bicycle-safe infrastructure. I wish I had my full-fingered gloves at around this point and I think about what life could be like… I could carve out an existence here: cycling, check; entrepreneurship, check, but not so fast; I pause. There’s more to do at home and the thought of bringing a little bit of Boulder to CdM; it could be challenging, yes, but lots of fun, worthwhile and satisfying, too.
One of many separated bike paths in Boulder.
Boulder’s rush hour rider.