For an exceptionally long time now, people have been telling me I’d love Boulder, Colorado. I’m talking years and years, and many different people, all with the same message: you will love Boulder, whether it’s for the farmer’s market or the easy access to nature or the bike paths or the awesome people there. Apparently, if it weren’t for Portland, Boulder would be the place for me.
So I finally made it happen this summer: a quick, three-day-weekend trip to Boulder, my first time there ever, where my brother hooked me up with his friends who hooked me up with an amazing place to stay and a zippy, stasia-sized roadbike to borrow.
This bike was clutch. It’s always so much better to visit somewhere bikeable with a bike, to be able to explore and navigate the in-between places rather than just the random destinations, to get a sense of how the city’s spaces work together. And in Boulder, it’s particularly fun because when you’re on a bike it feels a little like you’re on a whole different city overlay, where the roads for cars are accessible to you if you want but you can also choose to use a whole other network of separated paths. It feels a little sneaky, like traveling the secret parts of the city you don’t get to see if you drive, and it’s awesome.
Also clutch is the fact that all the bike paths are super well signed. I did have a map of Boulder that my hosts had left for me (super sweet), but I also didn’t end up needing to use it that much. Once I hooked myself into a bike path, I could just follow the signs that sounded interesting (Boulder Creek Bike Path? Sign me up!) and meander around, finding my own lay of the land without ever having to worry about wandering so far afield that I couldn’t find my way back. (Ha! Not that I worry too much about that anyway;) But it reminded me of the very first time I went to Eugene way back in the day, and how I stayed in the city way longer than I’d been planning simply because it was so easy to navigate.
Tourism people, take note: a well-signed urban area is an area people will explore much more and spend much more time (and money) in.
And it’s true: I loved Boulder. Three days isn’t nearly enough time to say anything of substance, of course, but I loved the farmer’s market, the to me Portland-like emphasis on sustainable agriculture and local food, the fact that I could bike 7 minutes to a trailhead that would allow me to lose myself on more than 130 miles of trails that go through canyons, to climbing areas, up mountains, to caves, to a natural arch, and all manner of other awesomeness. My first day out, not 10 minutes into a run that ended up lasting over two hours, I had to jump over a big pile of bear scat on the trail.
I was also excited to find an amazing concert venue where my friend and I caught the symphony, a super awesome pedestrian-only stretch of downtown, and maybe my favorite public library building in the world — favorite if only because part of it bridges Boulder Creek and you can literally sit above the water looking out the giant picture windows at everyone pretending like it’s actually deep enough to float in an inner tube down the creek. (It’s not. Though somehow, people make it happen.) There’s also a bikeshare system!
It wouldn’t be Boulder without at least a little bit of rock climbing thrown in, so my friend who’s working there for the summer took me scrambling up one of the Flatirons. You can tell it was supremely daring and badass — at least, until you notice the horizon in the background:
(picture by Sam Crossley — who actually takes really amazing pictures when he’s not just messing around with his phone;)
So yeah. Definitely liked Boulder. And definitely into having a bike to borrow when I go places. Thanks so much to my lovely hosts and to Sam for helping facilitate my first Boulder experience! :)