We’re a little spoiled here in Boulder. We average over 300 days of sunshine a year and most of the non-sunny days are usually nothing more than a few quick storms that come and go. But sadly, we do get rain once in a while.The transplants from the Pacific Northwest get a little taste of their previous homes but the rest of the city slides into a collective funk. (The counterpart to this is a gnawing sense of obligation to go outside on a perfectly sunny day even when you don’t really want to -- if you lived here, you’d understand).
So when it rains we read books, go out to eat and go slightly stir crazy. The crags are soaked, mountain bike trails damage easily and road biking on skinny tires on wet roads is an invitation to a fine case of road rash. The sun is always right around the corner though and to keep our spirits up on those days when it rains more than 15 minutes, here’s what Boulderites like to do.
1 - Look at Maps
Whereas many sophisticated homes around the world are privy to the finest works of art, Boulder’s walls are more likely to be adorned with a framed map of the routes up the Diamond on Longs Peak or perhaps a poster of the 14ers. We are map-aholics here in Boulder, from old-school topo quads to Google Earth. We love seeking out new places to explore, especially those dense clusters of contour lines that carry an implied sense of vertical danger.
2 - Swarm the Climbing Gym
Summer days at the climbing gym tend to be quiet affairs with plenty of available ropes and a laid-back atmosphere. But when the rains come in, good luck finding parking let alone an open route. They come in great hoards, bitterly pulling down plastic all the while forgetting they live in a town with three dedicated climbing gyms within two miles of each other. It makes some climbers so mad, they forget to take off their shirts.
3 - Fix All Our Broken Gear
So your bike hasn’t shifted right in six months, no problem! That hole in your tent? Just extra ventilation! And as long as the sole of your boot is mostly connected to the top, you can still walk in it. Boulderites are just too busy to be bothered with fixing stuff when the sun is out. A rainy day is a chance to take inventory and triage ailing gear. Backpack buckles are replaced, old ropes are retired and those running shoes with the toxic waves of green funk wafting from their cores are disposed of.
4 - Go to the Desert For the Day
The closest desert areas from Boulder are roughly 4 hours west or 3.5 hours south, yet Boulderites have no problem chasing the sun for a day of biking or climbing. Some of the best mountain bike trails in Colorado are found in Grand Junction and Fruita, so it makes sense to spend 8 hours driving round-trip to noodle around for 3 -4 hours on the bike. Or maybe the Sand Dunes are calling, with their fun-to-hike 800 foot drifts. And 7 hours of driving. These decisions are usually spontaneous and even more bizarrely, it’s easy to recruit others to join. Yeah, we have a problem.
5 - Buy New Stuff
Once we’ve surveyed our broken gear, sometimes it’s just better to upgrade. And when Boulderites go into an outdoors store, they never leave with only what they originally came for. You may go in for a new pair of shoelaces and come out with a kayak. Or perhaps that old water bottle needs to be replaced, so logically you come home with three new sleeping bags (they were on sale!) Gear casts a spell over Boulderites the same way a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes beguile a fashionista or an autographed Mike Ditka helmet entices Chicago Bear fans. In other words, we’re not immune to retail therapy.
6 - Run and Hike Anyway
As long as there no lightning, rainy days are actually pretty sweet in Boulder. Mount Sanitas, Green Mountain and other hiking trails are marvelous to behold in all their soggy glory. Because everyone else is either in the desert or buying gear, traffic is at a minimum. As an added bonus, Boulder has a lot of cozy coffee shops, pubs and restaurants to relax and dry off after the fact, so there’s an objective reward waiting after the adventure. And of course, we Boulderites like to be able to relate to those of you who have to deal with this kind of weather all the time, so we’ll be sure to brag about that burly 45 minute run we did in a strong drizzle (Maine, Washington, Oregon, Minnesota and other states reserve the right to not be impressed).