Cruising the Southwest Denver Loop

On Saturday I took my longest bike ride of the year, a nearly 50-mile loop through the southern and western portions of the Denver metro area.  About 90 percent of this ride is on paved multi-use paths that follow the South Platte River, Bear Creek, and Clear Creek. I can’t say I felt like a champion on the ride–it’s early in the season–but it was the first time I’ve connected these trails and I’d definitely do it again.
Below are the ride summaries from Strava and MapMyRide.

From downtown Denver the route travels south along the South Platte River along the Mary Carter Greenway until reaching Bear Creek. After heading west on this multi-use path, you reach the C470 bike trail, which follows the loop highway that nearly encircles Denver. When I reached Golden, I got on the Clear Creek trail and headed east toward home.

You wind up climbing almost 2,000 feet in this ride, but it tends to be very gradual inclines or short, steep pitches. My goal was to keep my heart rate below 140, get a lot of miles under my belt, and decompress after a long work week. The elevation/heart rate graphic below shows I did a decent job with with my ticker, and I also took plenty of breaks for photos and snacks.
Cycling 5-4-2013, Heart rate

Here are a couple shots from the middle of the ride, near Morrison:

Denver
Looking northeast toward Denver
Bear Creek Bike Path
Bear Creek Bike Path heading west to the start of the Rockies

Here’s the Coors macro-brewery in Golden. Definitely smells malty around there!

Coors brewery
Economies of scale at the Coors Brewery in Golden. So much effort for such lousy beer.

This loop is a mellow cruise that features very little traffic and it introduced me to a portion of the Front Range I’d never explored. Next I’d like to try extending this route a bit by skipping the Bear Creek trail and traveling a little farther south on the South Platte until I get to the C470 trail.