Just over 60 miles north of Denver, Fort Collins is an ideal day trip destination to escape the hustle and bustle of Colorado’s capital city. As flowers are blooming and the days are getting warmer, spring fever is in the air and summer on its way. To celebrate the warm weather seasons, this perfect day will guide you around Fort Collins, cruising along its extensive network of paved bike paths on a one speed fat tire bike.
To organize your perfect day of outdoor fun in Fort Collins contact an outfitter, such as Joe Bagley at New World Sports, to create and guide your urban bike adventure of Fort Collins. Joe does it all; he owns and maintains all of New World Sport’s rental bikes, arranges transportation for groups, and guides the majority of the tours – but for larger groups he may have one or two other guides along to assist. NWS offers city cruiser bike tours, technical mountain biking clinics, as well as multi-day guided tours along mountain trails, and arranges for everything you’ll need, from the bikes to meals.
Depending on the tour, Joe will have the group meet somewhere conducive to dropping off the bikes like the Bean Cycle in Old Town Fort Collins. Fuel up here with coffee and a monster piece of banana bread. The Bean Cycle takes great pride in the Fort Collins community and supports local growers and fair trade products. They roast all their coffee in house and offer a variety of vegan menu items, as well as all the other tasty treats in their bakery case. After breakfast, your guide and cruiser bikes will be waiting for you outside.
Next, you’ll head through town for a quick stop to pick up your preordered picnic lunches at Back Country Provisions. As the name suggests, they provide a style of food designed for active people living and playing near the Rocky Mountains. Lunches usually consist of a hearty sandwich, chips, drink, and a homemade cookie; all packaged to be taken with you on the trails. They use the finest imported meats and cheeses, and vegetarian choices are also available. These packed lunches are guaranteed to leave you satisfied and able to carry through to the end of the trail.
Picnic lunches in hand, and back on your bikes follow Joe out along the Poudre Bike Trail, which connects to the Spring Creek Trail. While riding along the Spring Creek Trail, he’ll point out the high water markers standing atop posts along the creek banks. Some markers are as high as eight feet above the creek bank. These posts mark the water levels during the 1997 flood that tore through downtown Fort Collins, killing four people. You’ll also ride by the monument that memorializes the four victims of the flood.
Eventually the Spring Creek Trail leads to Spring Canyon Park. This is a great place to park the bikes for a while, take a break, and enjoy your picnic lunch. There are picnic benches under shelters for just such an occasion. Spring Canyon Park also includes a significant amount of open space, a dog park, and a playground that was designed for all children including those with visual impairments or physical limitations. Inspiration Playground was designed by a board of professionals and community members to appeal to and be accessible to everyone through different stimulation stations and wheelchair friendly ramps connecting the various aspects of the jungle gyms.
After lunch and perhaps a little play time at the playground, Joe will lead the group back along the trails toward Old Town and a detour through the Colorado State University campus is definitely worthwhile. You’ll likely see some groups playing their way through the Frisbee golf course, and if you’re lucky to be there at the right time of the season, you’ll see the cherry trees blossoming along the foot path that runs from Moby Arena to the heart of campus. Another beautiful spot is known as The Oval. It’s home to the oldest buildings on campus that form a ring around a green open space where students often come to relax under the tall shade trees or toss a Frisbee in between classes.
After your full day of riding, you’ll end up nearly where you started, but a treat awaits. Your urban bike adventure concludes at Fort Collins’ premier Aveda spa, Europa Colour Salon Spa. Nothing feels better after a long day of riding than a little pampering. Europa provides a complimentary foot and hand massage after the bike tour. It’s the perfect way to relax those muscles that have been working hard all day and get you ready for dinner at Coopersmith’s Pub and Brewing, a favorite brewpub in Fort Collins.
You’ll appreciate the restorative powers of Coopersmith’s fare after your day of outdoor fun. Choose to continue your outdoor experience by dining on the patio and watching the foot traffic of Old Town Square pass by, or dine inside and enjoy the atmosphere created by their bustling bar that stretches from one end of the restaurant to the other. The Coopersmith burger, topped with their artichoke dip is a failsafe option – it’s sure to satisfy the hunger you’ve no doubt built up pedaling over the miles of trails.
Coopersmith’s brewing kettles, tanks, and chambers are downstairs; so be sure to give yourself the tour by walking along the hallway and peeking in their enormous viewing windows. Conclude the evening by treating yourself to a stout float. Even if you’re not a stout drinker, with ice cream blended into this rich beverage, it becomes a creamy delight like you’ve never had before. It’s the perfect way to top off your day of out door fun in Fort Collins.
What and Where:
New World Sports (308 Ruth St; 970-224-5857)
Bean Cycle (144 N. College Ave; 970-221-2964)
Back Country Provisions (140 N. College Ave; 970-482-6913)
Spring Canyon Park (www.fcgov.com/parks/; 970-221-6660)
Europa Colour Salon Spa (123 N. College Ave; 970-407-8223)
Coopersmith’s Pub and Brewing (5 Old Town Sq; 970-498-0483)
Maura O’Neal has lived in Denver for three years and is still finding new things to do in and around the Mile High City. When she is not out exploring her own neighborhood, she works as a flight attendant to support her international travel habit. Visit her blog at http://travelsabound.blogspot.com.