Road Biking in Durango Colorado If there is one activity that Durangoens love above most others, its gotta be bike riding. Roadies rule the road here and it's no wonder as there are some of the most spectacular highways in America crossing a wide variety of terrain. You get high mountains with MONSTER climbs, low desert valleys, river views, lake views, canyon views, rural farmland and fresh clean air. The ride from Durango to Silverton alone makes it to the bucket list for people from all over the world. It's no wonder so many professional riders come to Durango to train. "It's just an awesome place to ride." Now down to the brass tacks (or titanium chainrings if you prefer) and where the groovy places to ride in Durango are. First, roadies follow..well.. Roads. So you have the option of just using our maps page to look at all the highways and roads or following a few of the popular loops we have marked. Durango to Silverton Let's start with the big one, the ride from Durango to Silverton. This 48 mile ride begins in Durango and can follow hwy 550 North (or CR 250 which will meet up with 550 at Bakers Bridge) and is a good ride for intermediate through expert riders. Elevation gain is 6,512 feet beginning,  peak of 10,900 feet at the summit of Molas Pass, 6,700 feet of climb with some long steep sections leading up to Coal Bank Pass that will test the lungs. This particular route is utilized during the annual Iron Horse Bicycle Classic bike race which takes place every May and attracts thousands of professional and amateur riders from all over the world.  For more information on the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic, visit our calendar of events page for the month of May. Long & Short Valley Loops  (Long Valley: Baker’s Bridge Loop & Short Valley: Tremble Loop) One of the most popular "Long Valley" loops is the Bakers Bridge Loop. This ride follows CR 250 (see our map) north about 15 miles and will cross the famous Bakers Bridge where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid was filmed. About ¼ mile past the bridge you will catch hwy 550 back south (left) until you get to CR 203 in Hermosa where you will make a left and follow CR 203 which parallels hwy 550 but has less traffic. Total ride is about 30 miles and has little elevation gain so it can be whipped out fairly quickly.  Good for riders in the intermediate through expert range and is great for cadence monitoring.  The Short version of this same route called "The Short Valley" or Tremble Loop follows north along CR 250 and instead of going all the way to Bakers Bridge you turn left (west) on CR 252. This takes you across hwy 550 and over to CR 203 where you make a left (south) back to Durango.  Total distance is about 15 miles and is good for beginner through expert riders. Durango to Pagosa Another "big" ride is from Durango to Pagosa Springs Colorado which is a 60 miler one way. This one is fairly straight forward in that you take highway 160 (see our map) east all the way to Pagosa Springs. This ride has a few hills to climb but not too many major "grunts" and the peak elevation is about 7,800 feet with approximately 3,100 feet of ascent. Look for heavy traffic during the usual morning and evening work commute on this route especially between Durango and Bayfield. Durango to Bayfield Loop A fun and very popular upper medium ride is the Durango to Bayfield loop which is a 45 mile trip that takes you through some beautiful river valleys and nice farmland. You start out from Durango and take CR 240 (Florida Road) (see our map) for about 14 miles and then make a right onto CR 501. Follow this until you reach hwy 160 in Bayfield and make a right (west) which will take you back to Durango. There are a few moderate climbs along CR 240 that are a good challenge. Peak elevation is 7,900 feet with about 3,000 feet of climbing to do along the way. Gandview Loop (AKA Elmore’s Corner Loop) For a quick 23 mile "lunch ride" you can do the Grandview Loop also known locally as the Elmore's Corner Loop. You start out once again on Florida Road (see our map) which is also CR 240. Follow this until you reach 234 where you will make a right (next to the fire station) which will drop you out at hwy 160. Make a right on 160 and head back into town. You will get almost 1,200 feet of climb and look for heavy traffic during normal going to work times. Wildcat Canyon Loop The other upper medium ride with a good climb for the first half of the ride is known as the "wildcat canyon loop". You start out by taking hwy 160 west (see our map) all the way to Hesperus Colorado which is about 12 miles and includes the aforementioned climb. Hesperus hill is a good steady grunt that will get you plenty warmed up and appreciate the easy drop back to town. Once you reach Hesperus you will make a left (south) on hwy 140 and take another left onto hwy 141 (wildcat canyon road) which will drop you right back onto hwy 160 and back to town. A fun alternative which takes you past the new lake (Nighthorse Lake) and onto hwy 160 "east" is to take a right off of wildcat canyon road onto CR 210. This alternative also has a little less traffic and will almost drop you onto the Animas River Trail. If you wish to forgo the Hesperus hill climb you can always do the route in reverse! Total distance is about 34 miles with almost 1,900 feet of climbing. This is also a very pretty ride in the fall with the trees changing color. Weaselskin Bridge Ride (AKA La Posta Road) This ride is fast becoming one of the most popular road bike routes in the Durango area and is even being utilized competitively! Its quick, has a descent shoulder, lighter traffic and a beautiful rural backdrop that make it attractive to road bike enthusiasts. This is a fairly straight forward out and back that you can do whatever distance fits your ability level and can be started from just about anywhere you like (see our map).  The La Posta Road (CR213) runs south from Durango following the Animas River and ends where it connects to hwy 550 (Bondad). It is about 13.5 miles from the Dallabetta Bridge to the end or about 14.5 miles from downtown Durango and is a great ride for intermediate to expert cyclists. A beginner might consider this one because it is more of an out and back and there are not too many heavy hills to climb. Just keep in mind that this route is very rural and there are no facilities until you get back to town.  You "could" complete a ride by following hwy 550 back to Durango and doing a loop but the amount of traffic and limited shoulder room makes it very unappealing.  A popular "half way" ride is the 5.5 mile out to Weaselskin Bridge and back.  To get there you can simply use our interactive map but it is quite easy to find. Going South out of Durango you will turn West on River Road (next to Home Depot) and you can park your car at the Dallabetta Park next to the Animas River. You can also follow the paved Animas River Trail from just about anywhere in Durango to the Dallabetta Bridge and then head south on La Posta road.  From the park your beginning elevation is about 6452' and you will have a gradual drop for the first five miles to a low elevation of about 6054'. You will begin your mid ride gradual climb for about 4.5 miles to another peak elevation of 6455' and then the final descent of about 4.5 miles to the end. The end elevation is about 6066'. The cool thing is that the ride back gives you about the same amount of climb and drop as the way in which makes it great for training.  This ride follows along the Animas River through areas of beautiful farmland and ranches and the road at the time of this writing is in great shape. Its fast, it's fun, it's beautiful give it a spin!  
The Death Ride (AKA: Durango to Telluride Loop) If you wish to do an adventure that many claim is a once in a lifetime spectacular road biking trip consider this.  Take Hwy 550 North out of Durango and go 70 miles to Ouray.  This will take you over three mountain passes including Coal Bank, Molas, and Red Mountain.  Ouray is an awesome high mountain town where you can stay the night and soak in the hot springs.  The next day you leave Ouray and continue to follow hwy 550 until you reach Ridgeway where you will make a left onto hwy 62.  This will take you across the Dallas Divide and after about 20 miles you will make a left onto hwy 145 near Placerville.  Follow hwy 145 for about 56 miles until you reach Telluride.   After 76 miles of some of the most amazing highway on earth you will be very ready for the funky coolness of ToHellYouRide (Telluride).  Stop, get a beer and hang out because the climbing ain't  over by a longshot.  After a day of rest you will take hwy 145 southwest out of Telluride and hope your legs are still able to peddle you over one more Colorado Mountain pass because Lizard Head Pass at this point in the game is a killa.  It will hit you right out of town which is one heck of a warm up but will take you over some more spectacular mountain highway.  After about 28 miles you will come to the town of Rico where you can stop and take a quick break before the push to Dolores.  From Rico to Dolores is a steady river valley road that winds its way through lush mountain ranches and incredible aspen groves.  At long last you will  reach the town of Dolores.  This is about a 65 mile stretch and you will be VERY ready for a stop for the night and to visit another pub.  With all the climbs over high mountain passes, the last leg of the journey will seem like child's play.  After all it's only about 46 miles and no major passes right? RIGHT!  Take 145 southwest out of town and then make a left onto hwy 184 towards Mancos.  Once you reach Mancos make a left at the light on hwy 160 back to Durango!  "I have done this trip and talked to people that have made it a point in their life to make it and it has changed them forever.  It is truly a ride to remember."  Riders should be in good physical condition to attempt this loop and many should consider a support vehicle in case of mechanical failure, inclimate weather or fatigue.  This loop does not have to be completed in this exact millage order and there are other small towns to stop for a break.  Be sure to carefully plan your trip and make reservations in advance for motels or campgrounds so as to avoid vacancy issues.  Also mention what you are doing as there are usually groups of people sometimes from other countries that you can join up with and share in the adventure.  
Map of Popular Durango Road Biking Routes
Death Ride
When to Road Bike
When to ride the roads of the Durango Southwest?  Well, any time but winter is great which would be April through October.  "My personal favorite is in the fall when the weather is cool and the trees are changing."  September through October.  Look for rains to be more common in the late afternoons in late summer but usually only lasting an hour or two.  During the summer there are quite a few races which you can see on our Calendar of Events Page or any of the local clubs are always willing to allow a drop in for a quick ride.  If you need parts, accessories, rental or even a new hyper cool bike Durango has some of the best shops that you can find.  We also have one of the top colleges in the U.S. for competitive cycling with many of its graduates going on to be champions! Roads are usually just a means of getting from point A to point B with the usual humdrum pushing you to get to the destination as quickly as possible.  But being on your bike gives you a chance to see your surroundings in exquisite detail, earn your miles with energy and spirit derived from yourself and enjoy the surroundings in a way that you will never ever forget.  Durango has roads with scenery that is just "good for the soul" and has such a wonderful variety that even after living here all my life I keep getting surprised with something new.  So grab the bike and hit the roads of the DuranGo Outdoors!
Road Biking Lingo
How to understand roadies and their lingo: Roadie - A person whom rides their bike primarily on streets, roads and highways usually on an uber light preparatory cycle full of cool things like carbon fiber, titanium and aluminum. Road Rash - Roadies usually wear clothing that is light and thereby thin and when you crash and slide the pavement makes your skin look like you were attacked by a belt sander. Cadence - A fancy word for consistent pedaling RPM.  Good cadence is to have the same rhythm or speed at the cranks from your legs even with moderate inclines. Monkey Butt - Also known as Saddle Sores and is the bain of many a roadies bottoms.  If you spend enough time on a bike seat or your shammy is worn your buttocks and or nether regions can get a red hot rash.  "Taint" fun! Chamois - Pronounced Sham-mee and is commonly called "Shammy".  This is the friction reducing, sweat absorbing pad that is part of the inner liner of bike shorts.  Often confused as being the entire shorts like the lycra or spandex seen on many bikers. Drafting - This is where you get right behind another rider and take advantage of their slipstream in the air.  It can give you about a 20-30% advantage so always try to let your buddies go first! Quiver - To have a personal rack or hanger full of different bikes to choose from. Priorities - To have a bicycle that costs more than your car. Blocking - It's just like it sounds. Blocking is where you obstruct a rider or riders behind you on purpose… unless you are a squirrel. Squirrel - An unpredictable and "spastic" rider that zigzags all over the road in front of you.  They drive you nuts! Panic drop - This is where you fail to clip out of your pedals in time at a light or stop sign.  People will see the panic on your face before you drop. Peloton - The main group of riders seen during a race, because "group" just isn't cool enough.

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