A few weeks ago, before my trip to NYC and a cold that made my head feel as though it were filled with cement, I pointed my bike west for the first ascent of NCAR. NCAR is the acronym for the National Center for Atmospheric Research and it sits like a citadel of deep thinking above Boulder.
The NCAR ride is a great way to ease back into the joys and pains of riding hills. I know I can’t hit a ride to Ward right out the gate, so the NCAR ride is a gentle reintroduction to running out of gears.
One of the great features of the ride to NCAR is that I can ride the bike paths nearly all the way out there. I catch the bike path that runs parallel along
the ugliest road in Boulder Foothills Pkwy, take the flyover, and keep heading straight until I hit CU Boulder East. I continue onto Bear Creek Path. I can actually continue on the bike path(s) for most of the way until turning up onto Table Mesa.
The initial ride past Safeway and some of the residential streets off of Table Mesa are not a bad way to ease into the ride. It’s not that the NCAR ride is outrageously hard, like Old Stage, it’s just a bit short and tart for the first 1/3. But what I find distracting is how amazingly gorgeous the views are and I generally have plenty of time to savor each section because I am not moving quickly. But if I could create a road to Rivendell it would be the climb to NCAR. The blues of the mountain range in the distance, the dark greens of the short grasses that cover the hillside create this enchanting setting, where you can almost imagine Legolas and folk sunning themselves.