Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Road-biking Denver's Northern Suburbs, Part 2: Thornton, Erie, Dacono

This is another of the routes I like to ride in the morning before heading off to work. It quickly takes you out of town, past some of the outer subdivisions, and into the rural countryside. On clear mornings the view of the mountains out to the west is quite nice.

View Thornton, Eerie, Dacono in a larger map

I usually ride this loop clockwise, if only because the right-hand turns are easier to make. The map shows the ride beginning and ending at the parking lot of the shopping center at 136th and Colorado Blvd, but as with the first installment of this series, it is easily accessible from most of the northern Thornton area.

There is a landfill at the northern end of Sheridan Parkway which results in a little bit of extra traffic from garbage trucks. But it isn't bad and doesn't detract from the enjoyment of the ride.

It is common to see hot air balloons in the sky to the west as you ride north along County Road 5, and the view of the mountains is usually very nice. That road takes you past Erie High School, an airstrip community, and a salvage yard for old VWs. The route then turns onto SH 52 just before the county road turns to gravel.

SH 52 is the highest-traffic road on this route, as it is an I-25 tributary, but the shoulders are pretty good, and even at the intersection with the interstate, it is quite manageable. There are a couple of convenience stores accessible from this point - one near I-25 and the other just past the turn onto Colorado Boulevard, also known as Weld County Road 17 in these parts.

I like to note the four radio towers on the east side of the road just north of 168th Avenue, or Baseline Road, which serves as a good distance marker as you head south. Shortly after that is the intersection with 160th/SH 7, and then the home stretch back to the beginning.

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