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 February 1, 1998

‘Phat’ tires in for local biking

Pop quiz: Your child tells you that you have a “phat bomb.” Are you:

* Insulted?

* Complimented?

* Wondering if this is some kind of innuendo?

Relax. You’ve won your kid’s respect, because you’ve got one awesome bike.

Though the language of hard-core bicycling devotees has evolved over time, technology and style have left the vernacular behind, choking in the dust.

Mountain bikes have largely replaced touring bikes — most local shops don’t even rent the latter. Hybrids work well for either recreational purpose, but for years the move has been toward the fat-wheeled, off-road version. For something appropriate for touring, Boulder’s Bikesmith is the place to go, but it’s closed for the winter season.

If you go off-road, front-end suspension will ease your ride. Full-suspension (“full-squish” to the cognoscenti) will really smooth those bumps by giving you shock absorption front and rear. Not only a good idea for the wildest rides, this also will give you greater control and might make riding possible while you’re nursing an injury.

Many people who own just one bike, and want the versatility of both the mountain and a road varieties, buy two sets of wheels and simply change them as needed. Few mountain bikes carry panniers for touring, but Boulder’s Full Cycle provides some that do.

If you want your own “bomb” expect to pay between about $250 and $3,000. Essential gear includes helmet ($250), tire repair package ($20 to $40 including patch kit, pump and tube), tire levers ($2) and water bottle with cage ($10 to $20). Sine qua nons for the commuter include lights ($10 to $90), fenders ($20 to $30) and bell ($10).

For comfort, don’t forget your gloves ($10 to $30), cycling shorts ($30 to $75), bike shoes ($55 to $140) and jersey ($20 to $50). The safety conscious carry lock ($10 to $15) and mirror ($15). Full-suspension adds about $150 to $800 to the cost of a bike with just front suspension.

Not surprisingly for an outdoors-oriented community, Boulder County enjoys several fine bicycle outfitters. Any good shop will carry maps of the most popular regional routes including trails in and around Nederland, Vail and Moab, Utah.

Patti Engle, of Full Cycle, enthusiastically recommends Community Ditch trail, which overlaps with Marshall Mesa trail south of Boulder. The trail is one of the few open to mountain bikers in Boulder — look at maps carefully before setting out on a single-track ride.

Since touring has faded drastically in popularity, few shops work with touring groups. Boulder’s Road Less Traveled, however, runs multi-day outings for mountain bikers, while providing a sag wagon for supplies.

Rentals run about $12 to $15 for less than four hours to about $80 for a one-week rental. The package should include bike, helmet, lock, bottle cage and flat repair kit.

Longmont shops generally recommend rides west on Highway 66 toward Lyons or along roads north and east of town because of relatively light traffic. A favorite in the Lafayette-Louisville area is Coal Creek Trail south of Lafayette and east of Louisville. Bike-n-Hike in Longmont and University Bicycles in Boulder rent tandems, and most shops will apply the cost of rental to the purchase of a bicycle.

Riders on area open space trails sometimes encounter horses, who spook easily. It’s a good idea to dismount and walk while passing them. Also, it’s best to avoid particularly muddy trails. Ruts soon dry and can make a track impassable.

So don your helmet, remember to watch out for the horses and enjoy that phat bomb.

Pop quiz: Your child tells you that you have a “phat bomb.” Are you:

* Insulted?

* Complimented?

* Wondering if this is some kind of innuendo?

Relax. You’ve won your kid’s respect, because you’ve got one awesome bike.

Though the language of hard-core bicycling devotees has evolved over time, technology and style have left the vernacular behind, choking in the dust.

Mountain bikes have largely replaced touring bikes…

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