Mountain bikers are a different breed: "Why yes, I like to attach myself to two wheels and careen my body down the mountain over rocks and boulders and through trees." If you're proud to call yourself "different," here are some rides you might want to try the next time you're looking for a thrill. (Oh, and please always watch out for the calmer breed, known as hikers and runners, whom you might scream past.)
Jump on your bike and ride the Pikes Peak Greenway/Santa Fe Trail. This out-and-back trail runs 14 miles from the Air Force Academy south along Monument and Fountain Creeks to El Pomar Youth Sports Complex. It's mostly flat, with sections that are either paved or crushed gravel. It's a great place for family rides or for those just starting out. If you're looking for a little bit more of a challenge, head to Garden of the Gods. The Garden has limited trails for mountain biking, but roadies will enjoy the climbs and the fun downhills. There's a nice wide bike lane; just make sure to watch out for the RVs occasionally parked in it.
Moving on up
The Falcon Trail is mostly singletrack, with a few sections of doubletrack, circling the interior of the Air Force Academy. It's got a little bit of everything: climbing, downhills, and just enough twists and turns to make it interesting. The ride's not super-technical, so you can enjoy the views, too. Do keep an eye out for running cadets as they share the trail. Oh, and bring your driver's license or they won't let you on base.
A ride that's similar to Falcon is Woodland Park's Rampart Reservoir. The singletrack loops 14 miles around the reservoir, for a pretty, scenic ride. If you're craving a ripping descent, you've got to try the Cheyenne Cañon/High Drive area, in the southwest part of town. Park in the High Drive lot at the top of Cheyenne Cañon. Start on Buckhorn Trail for your warm-up and descend down Captain Jack's for an afternoon thrill. In this part of town, it's important to watch for dirt bikers as they share the trails.
You're probably crazy
Manitou Springs' Palmer Trail in Section 16 is for those with a bit of experience. Start out at the Section 16 parking lot and ride up High Drive. You'll find the trailhead on the right. A 2-mile climb leads you to a fork. Head right again for a super technical loop back to Section 16. Try not to come home bleeding.
Palmer Park is a hidden gem in the center of town. No matter your skill level, you'll find a trail to fit — each one is rated like ski slopes, green, blue and black. And it's pretty too. Make sure to keep an eye out for pedestrians and equestrians.
Check out the tours offered by local companies in the Primer section.