A Very Fall Saturday Ride: Boulder, Nederland + beyond

I was supposed to race on Saturday. Last week I sort of panicked and registered for a cyclocross race in Broomfield after seeing some photos from last year’s race at Valmont; that day was so fun, the weather was perfect, my parents were there cheering, and I was really missing the feeling of killing myself for 40 minutes in a CX race. Like old times.

But as I read through all the new regulations surrounding COVID-19, it just didn’t sound like a good time.

No spectators were allowed.

There were limited field sizes.

Riders were not permitted to warm up on or pre-ride the course.

We were asked to bring our own pins (who saves pins??).

Time-consuming medical checks were required.

While I completely agree with the new rules this year to help keep everyone safe (and am thankful they are in place for those who decide to compete), I just knew I wouldn’t love the experience. So…I skipped the race, was happy my entry fee was going to a good cause, and met my friend in Boulder for a ride into the mountains instead!

For some reason, this friend and I just cannot do anything less than huge rides together, and it’s partially my fault. I love putting in lots of miles and climbing on the weekends because I have nothing to do but ride and explore and there isn’t a Saturday or Sunday that goes by that I don’t realize what a luxury that is. I am also more familiar with the roads in Boulder, so I usually come up with a huge ride and make him come along.

Our first climb of the day was Flagstaff which, if you ride the entire thing, connects to an OHV road called 68J. I didn’t realize until my friend said something that we had climbed over 2,000 feet in only a handful of miles.

Totally brutal! But once you leave the pavement and ride onto 68J, you’re greeted with bright yellow and orange Aspen trees lining both sides of the road. I really thought last weekend would be our last to see them in all their glory, but those leaves are hanging on and were maybe even more beautiful than our previous ride.

As we maneuvered our gravel bikes over the rocky and winding gravel road, we eventually made it to Magnolia, a rolling dirt road that leads to Peak to Peak highway and eventually to Nederland.

There is something so special about Nederland. Maybe it’s the fact that it’s so perfectly nestled in the mountains or that many of the homes look unchanged and maybe don’t have indoor plumbing. Maybe it’s that the business owners are so welcoming or that they got snow up there before everyone else in Boulder County. If I ever get married, I’ll have to convince my partner to move there with me.

We stayed for a little while, sipping coffee and Cokes at Salto before getting back on the road.

The route I had planned would’ve taken us along Peak to Peak for awhile before jumping on to Switzerland Trail. But we were both feeling cooked from hiking and running during the week, so we cut it short but turning onto Sugarloaf Rd. and descending all the way to Boulder Canyon.

I had a little more left in my legs, so I waved goodbye to my friend and added on one more dirt climb up Chapman before descending Flagstaff, which is the way we started.


It me! Having an absolute blast, thanks for asking.

If you’re not from around here, maybe none of these weekend riding or running posts make sense. But, essentially, we just explored a ton of the dirt roads west of Boulder in the Front Range. There are hundreds of variations and routes to take and ways to connect them all, which is one of my favorite reasons for living out here. It really never gets boring, and there is always someone who is down to ride and explore.

We’re lucky we went out on Saturday because Sunday was crazy windy, a bit chillier, and Nederland ended up getting snow! Ned is almost 3,000 feet higher than Boulder, so they experience wintery weather before we do, and I’m happy we didn’t get caught in any of that. It’s one thing to expect it and dress for it, and a very different thing to get caught in it out of nowhere and descend back to town with freezing fingers and toes.

I hope you had a great weekend! What did you get up to?

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