It's my second week in Colorado and I've decided to focus on cycling. Boulder is well known for providing some of the best facilities for the sport and you can travel anywhere in the city easily by pedal power. Our first cycling destination is the foothills in the northern part of Boulder. My cousins and I cycle from Kalmia to the start of the trail. The journey allows us to admire the Rocky Mountains as well as a number of small, enchanting lakes along the way. The ride itself is not too tiring, consisting of mainly flat or gently sloping roads. Arriving at the foothills, however, we are faced with the much harder task of cycling up steep and pebbly paths. There's one particularly tough part which makes my legs turn to jelly and I cry out in pain - and relief - when I reach the top.
From there on in, the ride is smoother and we leave our bikes at different spots on the way to watch the gophers fight and scream at each another. Gophers, like grey squirrels, are considered pests as the creatures dig holes in people's gardens but I find the innocent looking creatures to be highly entertaining. Then we are faced with another tricky, but not physically tiring, cycling challenge. We have to cycle downhill on a narrow pebbly lane; by trial and hair-raising error, I learn that skilful use of the brakes is key to preventing my bike from skidding and slipping. A young local boy cycling with his family gives me some useful advice: "trust your bike," he says. What he means is that mountain bikes are capable of rolling over stones and you do not have to manoeuvre around each obstacle. In fact that increases your chances of falling off.
When finally we reach the bottom of the path, we notice a trail to the top of another mountain. We lock our bikes to a wooden fence nearby and get going by foot up the trail. When we reach the top, we are once again greeted with beautiful views of the city and better still, a family of elk sitting about 20 metres away. They are not frightened by our presence and stare at us whilst relaxing under a tree. When dark clouds gather over us and forks of lightning become ominously regular, we decide to return home.
There are quite a number of injuries and fatalities in Boulder thanks to lightning strikes, so it is always better to get as far away as possible from any encounter with a storm. The next day we decide to cycle up to another trail known as Anne U White. While I do not tend to fade as my fitness levels have never been of concern, when I cycle uphill my legs tire really easily; this particular ride starts off flat for some 11km and then changes abruptly into a three-kilometre uphill battle. It is hard going.
This trail seems to be very popular, possibly because of the small waterfalls along the way. The track is dotted with warning signs about mountain lions and bear attacks but these do not dissuade us from enjoying our picnic in that beautiful landscape. My time in Boulder has come to an end much sooner than I would have liked and I know for sure that I won't leave such a huge time gap again before returning.
Next week: Omar goes to New York to see the sights of Manhattan