The Athlete's Guide to Boulder

Thursday, July 24, 2014 | By Mike Ricci
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The Athlete

Certain towns and cities across the U.S. are known to cater to the endurance sports enthusiast; Boulder, Colorado is one of those towns. Whether you are planning a training camp or coming for a specific event, this guide will help you get the most from your time in Boulder.

About Boulder:

Boulder is a endurance sports mecca like you’ve never experienced before; and with amenities so complimentary to your training you’ll never want to go home. The altitude, the farm-to-table dining, and the holistic resources (from retail to recovery) make Boulder a great place for all endurance sports. The coaches of D3 Multisport (a Boulder based triathlon coaching company serving triathletes around the world) have some top recommendations for you during your visit to Boulder.

Where to Stay:

Boulder has a solid selection of places to stay, but on a busy weekend, things fill up quickly, so don’t delay in getting your travel arrangements set.

The St. Julien

Located in the heart of Boulder, the St. Julien is well known as one of, if not the best hotel in Boulder. The rooms are so comfortable you’ll feel like you are sleeping on clouds and the food is amazing. 

Boulder Marriott

The Boulder Marriott is a nice, comfortable hotel at a more budget friendly price. Located on 28th St. you’ll be near the downtown area and have access to the 29th St. mall.

Chautauqua Cottages

You can get a little more unique and creative with your stay and consider the Colorado Chautauqua National Historic Landmark. These cottages sit just under the FlatIrons and offer amazing views. You’ll also have access to some of Boulder’s best rides and trails from your room. The Boulder Convention and Visitor’s Bureau is a great resource for lodging ideas and you can learn more here.

Tip from the Coaches:

The ultimate goal with your sleep, however, is your comfort especially the night before a big event. Both Coach Martina and Coach Jim share that it’s normal to have pre-race nerves. The night before a big race, sleep can be elusive and they both offered similar strategies for unwinding a busy mind. They suggest putting on headphones and listening to relaxing music. Try to distract yourself and don’t keep thinking about the race.

Where to Eat:

Boulder has an amazing food scene! In fact, there are so many choices, with such a variety of menus, that it’s nearly impossible to pick a top favorite (or even several favorites), but we tried.


With Italian cuisine and wine that will leave you craving for more, Frasca is an absolutely wonderful way to celebrate a hard day or race. It’s not cheap and this top spot requires a reservation, but it’s worth it.

Southern Sun/Mountain Sun

Respecting your budget, other favorites from the D3 coaches include both the Southern Sun and Mountain Sun. They are sister restaurants and offer a tasty microbrew and hearty food. They both have a great Boulder vibe!

The Kitchen

Toward the west end of Pearl St. are three versions of the Kitchen (The Kitchen, The Kitchen Upstairs and The Kitchen Next Door). With farm to table cuisine, the menu constantly changes but it is always a treat.

Tip from the Coaches:

Your nutrition as it relates to pre-race and during the race should be dialed in at this point, and you certainly don’t want to tinker with what works for you. In fact, our coaches recommend utilizing the kitchenette that maybe in your hotel room to make sure that you get the exact meal your require before your big event. Your carb loading should be done early on too, shares Coach Simon, and you should consider eating by 5 pm the night before your race.

Where to Grab A Cup:

Coffee is the fuel of the endurance athlete. Whether you need a full cup or just a shot of espresso for a pick me up, these coffee stops will get you perked up and back out training.


The best coffee in town is always up for debate! Coach Mike frequents Amante in North Boulder (there are three locations in Boulder) as Amante’s is also a common meetup spot for bike rides out of town. Check out the cycling art on the walls and don’t forget to try their gelato.

The Cup

The Cup is located on Pearl St. in downtown Boulder and has an all season patio that is great for people watching. Try the nitro coffee, it will perk you up and get you ready to go. They also have a good selection of pastries to enjoy pre or post ride.

Dushanbe Tea House

If you prefer tea over coffee, try the beautiful, authentic Persian tea house, Boulder Dushanbe Tea House.

Tip from the Coaches:

Coffee has long been known as a performance boosting drink. The right amount of caffeine can help give you that extra bit of energy needed on race day. However, Coach AJ recommends that if you are not a regular coffee drinker don’t try it on race day. Also, for those that do enjoy a cup or two on a daily basis, don’t over do it and drink a few extra cups. Stick to what you know works.

Where to Train:

The Boulder Reservoir is a good start for your training ground. You can cover all three of your events in this area – swim, bike & run. You can hop into an open water swim on Thursday morning with BAM (Boulder Aquatic Masters), and you can run around the 5.2 miles around the reservoir. You can park your car outside the front gate and catch a ride in, if you prefer to avoid the small entrance fee. Heading out on your bike, go north along the Diagonal Highway, you’ll catch one of our favorite little rides into Hygiene, be sure to stop at the little store, and you’ll be able to ride 75th toward Carter Lake. We have some other ideas for you below!


The Colorado Athletic Club

The Colorado Athletic Club has two locations in Boulder. Both feature outdoor pools, (the downtown location has a saline pool). Great weight facilities, a smoothie bar and massages available will keep you healthy.

The Boulder Recreation Center

Any of the three Boulder Recreation Centers have good amenities and access to pool time. You can drop in or buy a punch card depending on your needs.

The Boulder Reservoir

The Boulder Reservoir is your only option if you’re looking to swim in open water. There are some open swim times for those wanting a long swim session, or you can swim within the roped off area.  


Lefthand Canyon

If you are not racing, take Lefthand Canyon and climb the 17 miles to Ward. It has a big bike lane and offers some great views and a good workout.

Old Stage Road

For ride with some climbing but not too much, climb up Old Stage and head down LeftHand Canyon to Hwy. 36, and go North to St Vrain Rd., follow it to to 75th and back into town via the Diagonal Hwy.

Nelson Road 

For an easy ride, jump onto Hwy 36 to Nelson Rd. and cruise back into town.


Mesa Trail

The Mesa Trail at Chautauqua will leave you breathless from it’s beauty, altitude, and effort. This is an out and back trail with some side options as well.

Boulder Creek Path

Jump on the Boulder Creek Path at any point for a fun run. A nice bonus in the summer is that it will be several degrees cooler along the creek.

Magnolia Road 

Drive to the top of Magnolia Rd. (also known as Mags) and start your run on the dirt. This eight mile rolling out and back dirt is well used by many world class runners as a proving ground. At 8,000 to 8,800 feet, the elevation will make you work harder.

Tip from the Coaches:

You’ve trained hard, and you are ready to race. You have visualized a perfect race, and we hope that’s exactly what happens. However, what happens if you drop a water bottle or get a flat? If you are reading this, we hope you’ll find comfort in having this advice from Coach Dave, “Make sure you don't leave any equipment on the course except at specified aid stations. If you flat, don't panic. Sometimes getting a little "rest" while you make the change can be just what your legs need.”

Where to Shop:

Boulder has had a surge of retail in the past few years, including shops to support endurance sports! There are many shops for endurance athletes to choose from, and picking just a few is hard.

Colorado Multisport

For triathlon specific needs, visit Colorado Multisport. They have an excellent selection of product to choose from and offer fit services from some of the best in the business.

The Service Course

Cyclists would be smart to check out The Service Course in it’s shared location with Panache Cyclewear. Co-owner Damien Shanks has worked for Pro Tour teams and knows his bikes. No matter what you need done, The Service Course can help.

Boulder Running Company

If it’s running gear you need, head to Boulder Running Company. Their knowledgeable staff and wide range of running gear makes shopping easy.

Tip from the Coaches:

If your family or friends (in general, your support crew) are driving you nuts, Coach Dave recommends that you should send them off shopping or sightseeing. To be ready for race day, athletes should be resting and focusing on the race ahead.

Where to Visit:

Sure you’re here to train and race, but don’t miss out on the natural beauty that is in and around Boulder. On your rest days or post race, take a hike or a quick drive to take in all that Boulder has to offer.

The Flatirons

The vistas of the Flatirons are so appealing, and there is no better way to access them then through Chautauqua Park. Simply head up Baseline Road toward the mountains, and you’ll get there. If you keep driving Baseline, you’ll be on Flagstaff Mountain, and that will take you to Gross Reservoir. It’s a super windy drive, but it’s stunning and beautiful. In fact, we love this drive because we ride it!

Estes Park

There are some other areas close by that will keep you off your feet, but will afford you some amazing views. Drive north of town to Lyons, and meander either to the left into St. Vrain Canyon or the right for a more direct route to Estes Park.

Wild Animal Sanctuary

If you have family, something totally different is the Wild Animal Sanctuary about 44 miles east of Boulder. They have a one-mile walk out onto the plains where tigers and bears roam!

Tip from the Coaches:

You’ve raced your heart out, and you need to recover. So after your drive or recovery walk through the above areas, the coaches highly recommend a massage. In Boulder, the selection of therapists is endless, but on the top of the coaches list is Byron Thomas. Boulder Massage Specialists is another great resource as they cater to athletes as well. 

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