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A view from the NCAR road.
A pond near the South Boulder creek path.
The pond at the Confluence.
This ride combines my two favorite destinations in Boulder, NCAR and South Boulder creek. It will end at my house with a strawberry shortcake snack. Let's meet 9:00 AM, Sunday April 29th at the Aurora 7 parking lot. This is an elementary school on Aurora east of 30th street, just a short distance from my home, at 1121 Monroe Dr. #C. Unfortunately I don't think there is room for all of us to park at my place. I will provide a few tools and facilities to help us get organized and start, as well as providing the treat at the end of the ride. Total distance is 18 miles, but it will seem longer because of the 800 feet elevation gain and 3 miles of dirt on the route. South Boulder Creek is quite hard packed and level, easy dirt riding, but there is probably some mud there now, and so wider tires are recommended. The whole ride should take approximately 2 hours.
From Aurora 7 we will head north to the Wellman Canal path, continue NE to the Bear Creek path, and then ride south (uphill), to the highway 36 path, where we turn SE for a few feet to ride underneath highway 36. Then we ride underneath Moorhead avenue, admiring the murals, and reach the Broadway underpass, where we leave the path and emerge on Table Mesa Drive. We will climb Table Mesa, keeping an eye out for deer and at times riding as slowly at 4 miles an hour, and we will soon have an excellent view of the city beneath us. When we reach the top, 5 miles from the start, we will stop and rest, admire the view, and cool down enough to don windbreakers. On the way down some of us may exceed the 35 mph speed limit, but the road is so smoothly curved and well surfaced we should have no trouble staying balanced and safe. At the bottom we may regroup briefly before starting the second part of our ride. We will ride south on the Broadway path to the next underpass, where we will cross over to the east side and continue south until the path empties onto Marshal Road. A short distance south along Marshal Road we will encounter the South Boulder Creek trailhead, where we leave the pavement.
From there we start riding east, and then north, watching for shore birds in the ponds, and admiring the view. We take the South Boulder path north, passing underneath highway 36 again, and then encountering South Boulder road, where there is a dirt road that leads to a dark and damp underpass, and a continuation of the path. North of South Boulder road there is a narrow section of the path, but it soon widens and straightens again, and we approach the East Boulder Recreation center, with many people walking dogs, playing games, and otherwise enjoying the fine weather. We should be careful not to scare the pedestrians, slow down when we approach them, and give them room when we pass. At the East Boulder Rec Center we will take time for a short potty break and rest. Then we will head north again, crossing underneath Baseline at the trailhead, riding briefly on Gaptor road, we will soon pick up the path again and continue north to the intersection of Centennial Path, but we will not turn west onto it, but instead ride north onto Old Tale Road, which connects to the Boulder Creek path at Arapahoe Rd.
The entrance to the Boulder Creek path at the Arapahoe underpass has a steep grade followed by a sharp turn, so we will ride with caution there. We will ride past Madden Mountaineering, the Stazio Ballfields, and the large pond where the path turns west. There are a few side branches, connecting to Valmont and Pearl, but we will stay on the main branch, and ride underneath 55th street, and then Foothills Parkway, and not leave the Boulder Creek path until we reach The Confluence, which is a good place to admire the view, watch hawks and muskrats, and rest. I think there should be a drinking fountain there, but we will have to rely on drinks brought with us. After the Confluence, we head south along the Skunk Creek path, crossing underneath Research Dr. and Colorado, and then we meet the Wellman Canal path, and are back where we started, ready for our strawberry shortcake.