City Parks Ride
An afternoon storm blew out of the mountains yesterday, and helped determine the extent of my recreation, cutting short my anticipated ride but not at the sacrifice of great scenery and fresh air. There is a fine urban ride that links the three premiere parks of Denver together that w in great shape after the rain, bright with well-tended flower beds, open lawns, and mature trees to enjoy throughout the ride.
I set off south on my road bike going along the paved carriageway that loops around Washington park, passing over irrigation canals, beside reflecting lakes and ponds, under leafy canopies, and around ball courts and picnic areas that compose a park so classically designed that it has been recognized as one of "America's Great Public Spaces". The rain had seemed to clear out some of the usual runners, roller skaters, dog walkers, and cyclists that fill the park at all times, leaving the wide roadway relatively open. The wet asphalt shined the rubber of my skinny tires but still felt grippy and secure while pedaling. At the North end of the park, I turned out of the entrance onto Marion Street where a bike lane afforded me plenty of elbow room once I left the more controlled setting of the park. The road bends around the high hedges and brick walls of the Denver Country Club along smooth concrete and continues to Speer Boulevard. From there, I crossed Speer to enter the Country Club Historic Neighborhood and with a right on 3rd a left on Gilpin, a quick right onto 4th and finally one more left on to Williams I entered the heart of this vintage area of landscaped medians and large homes in the Mediterranean style and the American Foursquare style of architecture (a favorite of mine). Dried leaves under my tires signaled that the first day of Autumn had just passed a few days before and the branches would soon be bare.
Williams Street led right into Cheesman Park, and I followed the park road counter-clockwise past the distinctive pavilion and the fence line of the Denver Botanic Gardens to the west of the park. Leaving the park on Franklin and crossing busy Colfax to 16th guided me in to East High School and City Park. East's clock tower, modeled after Independence Hall in Philadelphia glowed in the setting sun as I turned north below to follow the Esplanade into the third park of the journey. Built during the City Beautiful era of landscape architecture at the turn of the 20th century, City Park is a worthwhile stop for both visitors to, and residents of Denver. Surrounded by the Denver Zoo, the Museum of Nature and Science, and a variety of shops and restaurants, a whole day can be easily absorbed by the distractions included in the park and its neighborhood. I stopped to admire the view across Lake Ferril, the fountain a shimmering spray of gold. With the sun quickly sliding behind the Rockies I quickly completed the loop through City Park and retraced my route back through Cheesman Park to Washington Park before dark to close out a wonderful Colorado weekend. Three great parks and an hour of effort.
Washington Park is easy to find by taking Speer Blvd to Downing and driving South. Turn into the Park at Exposition to start this ride. Any of the Parks can be enjoyed singly on foot as well. This ride is best at a leisurely pace where riders can stop to enjoy the views and parklands along the way.
Let Chipotle and Qdoba battle it out for "most popular" of the Mission-style Burrito joints while the locals quietly enjoy the menu at fun, casual burrito joint Illegal Pete's. After the ride, refuel at their South Broadway location. I recommend the "Big Potato" burrito; it fills you up perfectly with crisped potatoes, a primavera vegetable medley and a selection of house-made salsas to dial in just the right heat!