Boulder, The Perfect Triathlete's Training Holiday
Words Andre Bekker, professional coach
If you had to ask me what my version of heaven looked like, it would be Boulder, in Colorado, during the summer. So what does this have to do with sport? Everything!
I have had the good fortune of visiting this incredibly beautiful town to train and race – and it really should be a place that features on your bucket list. “Why,” you ask? Because the terrain is absolutely perfect for triathletes, runners and cyclists alike to train on.
Boulder is actually a university town and home to around 35,000 students, and everything is geared up to support them. The roads are also great, with lots of flat or rolling options, as well as some serious climbs, all within the same area. There are swimming pools and gyms all over, so it’s never an issue to find one close to you. Now here’s the best part: because it's a small town, you can get onto the open roads within mere minutes. You don’t have to wait at the traffic lights or drive for kilometres to find your little spot of heaven. Oh, and there are no taxis trying to run you over or muggers lying in wait to fleece you. Just miles and miles of safe, open roads that cater to its health conscious students, and citizens, with lots of bike lanes and or white lines that are big enough for you to ride two abreast – no exaggeration. How awesome is that?
Then, some years ago, some sport-crazy guy discovered that this little gem of a town is also at altitude. Once this news spread, athletes from around the world have been flocking here to train. Such as been the attraction of Boulder that if you had to take a walk through the city these days, you would bump into people from Australia, Britain, South Africa, Europe, South America, Japan – in fact, any country you can think of.
Furthermore, when it’s winter in the southern hemisphere, it’s summer here. So if you are a serious sports person and want to compete on the international scene, you can take advantage of training all year round in summer.
I briefly mentioned earlier that there are numerous swimming pools around, but would like to add why this would be so important to a triathlete. In addition to there being just as many top-class coaches available, there’s not much that beats swimming in a 50-metre pool, eight people per lane, and you are swimming for your life just to stay ahead of the guy/girl behind you. Everyone is chasing the swimmer in front of them for an hour and a half, but it only feels like 30 minutes of swimming because it is so intense. And when you get out of the pool, you get this sense of accomplishment from surviving the session. You see, the pros that you read about are also training in the water with you. Now if the company and ‘tension’ that’s in the air doesn’t inspire you, then nothing will.
To mix things up a bit, there's a lake to swim in as well. Every Tuesday and Thursday you’ll find around 150-plus triathletes going for an open-water session. Again, there’s nothing slow happening here, it’s just go, go, go as fast and for as long as you can.
As for the bike, there are plenty of groups to ride with and plenty of coaches with something to offer. You have choices – this is the American way. There are days that are so glorious you will literally think you are in heaven. As a mate of mine said, “Today is even more perfect than yesterday.” Once you get on the roads, it’s very hard to wipe the smile off your face, even after a tough session.
Not forgetting our runners, you’ll find yourself in the company of many of the USA’s top marathon runners, who also come here to train.
These top-class athletes truly welcome any new triathletes or IRONMAN athletes to train with them, as long as you don't complain about how tired you are and just run ‘hell bent for leather’. Again, there are numerous coaches and track trails to keep any runner happy at heart.
So you are reading this and thinking, “What do I need to do to get there and what about my wife/husband who is not into sport?” Rest assured that this is not only a health conscious hub but an amazing cultural hub too. Yoga, Nia dancing, pilates and much more is on offer, with people from all over the world practising what is not readily available in South Africa.
At night, there’s a variety of music concerts and festivals to keep you entertained. Denver is not that far way and offers some of the best music venues anywhere in the world. Just check out Red Rocks Amphitheatre.
During the three summer months, Boulder is action packed. Then it gets cold, snow cold, and unless you are a winter sports person, this place is not for you.
If you are looking for the perfect training holiday in perfect weather, while your buddies are battling through winter, then Boulder should be on your bucket list. I can promise you that this will be a life-changing experience!
• Boulder has been rated the top “Dream Town” by Outside Magazine, best city for cycling by Bicycling magazine, the #1 of “Best Cities to Raise an Outdoor Kid” by Backpacker magazine, and a “Top Heart-Friendly City”.
• Boulder was recently rated the “#1 Sports Town in America” by Outside Magazine. The city offers a sunny, temperate climate, abundance of nearby recreational areas, and full range of activities to choose from.
• The City of Boulder has abundant preserved open space, including 45,000 acres of land, 150 miles of dedicated trails and 60 urban parks for hikers, runners, dog walkers, climbers, bird watchers, photographers, and mountain bikers.
• Boulder County has 110 miles of hiking and biking trails and 35,000 acres of open space that is open to the public.
• Bicycling is so highly regarded in Boulder that sometimes the city ploughs the Boulder Creek bike path before they plough the streets!
• A Colorado Daily poll found that seven out of ten Boulderites own bicycles. Another guidebook states that Boulder's bicycle count is approximately 93,000 - almost equal to the total population!
• A 1992 survey by the Centers for Disease Control found that Colorado had fewer overweight people per capita and more people who exercise than any other state.
• Boulder has over 300 restaurants featuring local, regional and international cuisine. Several local restaurants have received national acclaim including Frasca Food and Wine, winner of a prestigious James Beard award.
• Boulder has more than 30 art galleries and is also home to four museums, 32 movie and stage theatres, and an impressive variety of cultural performances and events.
• The Chautauqua Auditorium is an all-wood structure built in 1898. In the evening, when the Colorado Music Festival musicians stop playing, you can often hear the rafters-dwelling owls hooting along with the music.
• With Coors, Anheuser-Busch and local microbreweries, this area has become the largest beer-producing triangle in the world.
Source: DO IT NOW