Could anything be more gorgeous than a Colorado morning ? It sure couldn’t be beat yesterday as I hopped on my bike to get some pedaling time in for the day. I headed downhill towards the Platte River trail. Now this normally isn’t the path I take because yes, it’s so much fun at first, all downhill, but friends, this isn’t my first rodeo. I know that means that when I’m tired and heading back home it’s all uphill. So I don’t make this decision lightly.
But it was so cool yesterday that the river path drew me. After a quick plunge through some city streets I pedaled onto a park path that took me through prairie grasslands towards the river. The sun was just over the trees and as its rays hit the wet wildflowers, they glistened and sparkled like glass in the tall grass.
Pops of red, gold and green surrounded me as I whizzed along racing with a red wing blackbird (he eventually won) until I came to the river and turned north.
The north trail is great for someone like me who enjoys flat rides. It also heads around downtown Denver following the river for miles. As lower downtown has been revitalized so have the paths and parks around the river. Where once you pedaled by homeless villages with makeshift tents today it’s parks, gardens, and buff people running or walking dogs. It’s a change that makes me feel more safe as I ride but also makes me wonder….where are those street people today? I pedal on.
The coffee colored river flows on my left, the amusement park is close on my right. I tunnel along inspecting the abnormally quiet rides, the white wooden rollercoaster and then the freaking crazy new red roller coaster with its twisting tracks that cause me to make note….nope, I won’t be riding that one any time soon. The sweet scent of honey and sage surrounds me as I swoop along the path and then leave it to return to city streets again. The sun is right in my eyes and I think I see where the curb lowers to street level and just at the last moment I realize that I’m about to go off a curb, BANG. I survive, pedal through a bit of the city and then catch the river path again.
I’m pleased to see the river is swift and full today. Often, by July you see a lot of mud islands in the middle of the river, but not today. Because the river is moving so quickly I don’t see as many geese as I normally see, nor as many wading birds. Mini rapids toss and curl the foaming waters. Again I’m hit with the sweet smell of the overgrowth along the river as I pedal, keeping my speed over 12 MPH as I can.
This path is an intriguing combination of city and warehouses with a slice of nature splitting down the center. There’s a McDonald’s, but right there a heron is fishing, there’s an ancient train trestle bridge, but there’s a field of tall grass. I look at my speedometer…6.75 miles….time to turn around. And I soon do. It’s still so cool, I have energy to spare but I know I need to be home to go to work at a reasonable time. I retrace my path but this time its all just a bit uphill. I notice the difference…. something you’d never pick up in a car but you absolutely do on your bike.
As I return to downtown I hear more traffic, people heading into town to work. I want to stop at Centennial Park, and look around at it’s formal pathways but I know I don’t have time today. Maybe next time. Now the river is on my right and I soon cross over and pedal by Mile Hi Stadium. Hmmmm, look at those statues and paths, I've never noticed those before. I need to check those out next time too. I turn off the Platte River trail and head west back up the hills towards home. Because it’s not too hot I’m comfortable. Slowing down to pedal up the steepest of the hills isn’t too bad. I just go at it slow and steady and try to tell if I miss my old “granny gear” from my previous bike. No, I’m OK and I take the sidewalk that my dog Jersey and I often walk together, with the welcome shade from the old cottonwoods standing guard until I make it back to streets that soon take me home.
DH is on the porch, “How was your ride?” he asks. My reply is straightforward. “Absolutely gorgeous.”