by Justin Daerr
In the spring of 2002, I was a junior at Texas A&M. As I was closing in on the tail end of time there, I figured that I had better try and find something to do after graduation. One day I was flipping through the back of Inside Triathlon magazine (the Internet wasn’t as awesome then) and I came across a tiny little ad for internships at the Inside Communications office (now part of Competitor Group). The fact that the internship was in Boulder meant little to me at the time, but its nearly 10 years later and I’m still here.
After that first summer, I went back to Texas and proceeded to return to Boulder every summer for the next few years. After bouncing around between couches in Arizona, Florida, Texas and Colorado I decided I wanted to live in Boulder full time. I know a lot of triathletes who have had success chasing warm weather training, but I grew tired of that lifestyle.
Boulder is busting at the seams with triathletes and cyclists in the summer months, but fewer athletes choose to call it home year round. I cannot speak for everyone, but the reasons I chose to make it home are as follows:
- The Athletic Community - Boulder not only has a lot of people to train with (and at all hours of the day), but it also serves as the headquarters for industry leaders, coaching businesses, bike fitters, sports medicine specialists, bike and run shops, etc. The resources that are available within the city limits are hard to beat and that makes life as an athlete and a coach much easier. I’ve seen similar resources available in other locations in the US, but not in a smaller city the size of Boulder.
- The Mountains/Terrain - For me personally, I find mountains to be highly motivating (on the flip side, I find water to be very calming). The amount of training you can do in the mountains provides challenges when you need them and relaxation when you don’t. Additionally, the location of Boulder on the foothills allows for flat training to the east and endless climbing to the west.
- Cycling Community - This is slightly different from the athletic community as I’m referring to the use of a bike in and around Boulder. The League of American Bicyclists awarded Boulder Platinum Status as a bike-friendly community. The town itself has bike lanes everywhere and the roads to the North have wide shoulders (most of which have been added or expanded in recent years). They also have bike paths, bike share programs and bike parking throughout the city to help commuters and recreational cyclists alike.
- Travel - As a professional athlete, you have to travel to races on a frequent basis. Denver International Airport (DIA) is a huge airport that is accessible from Boulder in 40-50 minutes by car and a bit longer by bus. DIA is a hub for Southwest and Frontier Airlines which offer the cheapest bike fees and fly direct to most domestic airports. Additionally, the central location of Denver makes it a short flight to most parts of the U.S. Often times, its tough to live in a place that’s good for training and travel, but you get that here.
- Weather - This is more of a personal preference and something that not everyone is going to prefer. I spent the first 22 years of my life in Texas and training through those summers left me a bit jaded. If I have to live somewhere year round, I prefer a place with a more temperate-to-cool climate. Granted, there are challenges in the winter and spring months, but I find it to be a better alternative to the eight month summers in the South. And its pretty much always sunny here.
- Altitude - There is a lot of discussion/debate about altitude and performance. Some consider Boulder to be in the grey area of elevation (5500 feet) -- not high enough to elicit the preferred physical responses, but still high enough to delay recovery and slow the velocity of training. I personally feel the opposite way: it’s high enough to elicit physical changes, but low enough that I can still maintain more quality in my training and recover more quickly (than higher locations). Additionally, most locations in the US with an elevation of 7,000 feet or more have a much more substantial winter than what we face here. That makes them ideal locations in the summer, but less ideal for year round training.
Take a trip and find out what Boulder is like for yourself at the 2012 Endurance Corner Boulder Camp.