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The Athlete’s Guide to Boulder

BY Mike Ricci

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.

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 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 D3 Coaches:

The ultimate goal with your sleep is your comfort, especially the night before a big event. Both Coach Martina and Coach Jim say 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.

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 you 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.

Spruce Confections

Another cyclist favorite is Spruce confections, located on the west end of Pearl Street. With an outdoor patio perfect for people watching and a central location to a variety of Boulder’s best canyon climbs, it’s the ideal spot to stop before or after a long ride. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that the company provides pastries and bars for many of the other coffee shops in town.

Caffe Sole

For athletes staying in south Boulder, Caffe Sole is an easy stop for breakfast burritos, coffee, and pastries. With an eclectic vibe and a big menu, it’s also a music venue on the right nights.

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—and for those who 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 training area for swim, bike, and run. You can hop into an open water swim on Thursday morning with BAM (Boulder Aquatic Masters), and run around the 5.2 miles around the reservoir (dirt roads and trails). The roads around the reservoir are also generally flat and reasonably quiet for cycling.

Park your car outside the front gate and catch a ride in, if you prefer to avoid the small entrance fee.


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 with its beauty, altitude, and effort. This is a fifteen mile out-and-back run, and typically sees lots of traffic—but there are multiple loops and turns you can make off of the main trail to get a little solitude.

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. 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, “If you flat, don’t panic. Sometimes getting a little “rest” while you make the change can be just what your legs need.”

Gear Shops:

Boulder has many shops for endurance athletes to choose from, and picking the top options is tough. Here are just a few options:

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.

Boulder Cycle Sport

With every part you could want, knowledgeable mechanics, and locations in both North and South Boulder, Cycle Sport is a convenient option for all your bike needs.

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 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 where the views from Trail Ridge road are stunning. Of course, if you don’t want to stay off your feet, there are some beautiful world-class hikes through the park as well.

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 D3 coaches’ list is Byron Thomas. Boulder Massage Specialists is another great resource, and they cater to athletes as well.

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About Mike Ricci

Mike Ricci, USAT Coach of the Year, USAT Level 3 Elite Coach and a Training Peaks Level II Certified Coach.  He is the owner and founder of the D3 Multisport coaching group, through which he coaches all levels of athletes from beginner to elite. One of their key coaching philosophies is no junk miles.  They help athletes utilize their time effectively as they pursue their goals.  Mike’s credentials include the University of Colorado Triathlon Team and guiding them as the Head Coach to four consecutive collegiate National Championship titles from 2010-2013. Mike has written training plans for Team USA several times, was the USAT World Team Coach in 2017, and has helped many athletes to qualify for the Ironman World Championships in Kona. You + D3 = Success (Learn More!).

Visit Mike Ricci's Coach Profile