When we start out on long rides our group usually coalesces behind me, letting me lead out the first couple of miles or so. I always thought that this was because I set a decent pace, until I overheard Max one day;
“Riding behind him is like riding behind three people.”
And Craig; “I feel like I’m in a vacuum.”
And Kristian; “I don’t even feel like I’m working. My legs are going to be so fresh for the climbs.”
And me; (Silent tears. And craving for another Twinkie. And more tears).
For rides like the Four Mile/Sunshine Loop, saving energy in the early stages is key, as this ride is long, full of climbing with a lot of dirt riding thrown in to mix things up. Approachable from either the Four Mile ride or the Sunshine Canyon ride, the route forms a loop that essentially starts and ends in downtown Boulder; making it one of the most accessible long rides in town. However you start, the loop involves a lot of climbing, and some long descent stretches on dirt. Starting the loop by going up Sunshine is the most climbing intensive way, while the Four Mile start allows you to climb to the top of the loop more gradually. For the most part, the dirt is smooth and decent for road bike tires.
However, there are sections that are pretty bumped out; so watch your speed and hold on to your bars as wrecking on dirt does some awesome damage to the spandex (and the Twinkie stash). The views on the higher sections of the ride are some of our favorite in the Boulder area; the Rockies to the West, and the Foothills and Front Range to the North and South. It makes the fact that you can no longer feel your legs less daunting.
This ride is also a good one for celebrity spotting. The last time we were up there we spotted Tyler Hamilton. He doesn’t look like he enjoys Twinkies.
Do it because: It’s one of the most challenging and most accessible loops in the Boulder area. Amazing views from the top and a great mix of road and dirt to keep you on your toes.
Distance: 22 miles roundtrip
Directions: You can ride the loop by either taking Four Mile or Sunshine. From Four Mile, continue past where the pavement ends and continue on Gold Run Road as it climbs up to the town of Gold Hill, where the road will become Boulder Street. Once in town, take a right on Horsfal Street which will turn into Sunshine Canyon Drive.
If heading up through Sunshine Canyon, continue past the end of the pavement and continue climbing until the road ends in the town of Gold Hill. Take a left on Boulder Street which turns into Gold Run Road.
View Four Mile/Sunshine Loop – Boulder, CO in a larger map