Ride some of Colorado’s oldest train tracks … on a bike

Erie, Colo. May 14, 2024.
Ryan Warner/CPR News
Jeff Rummer, co-founder of Colorado Railbike Adventures, in Erie, Colo. May 14, 2024.

“The quirky lovechild of a bicycle and a train.” That is how Jeff Rummer describes the people-powered vehicles at the heart of his new family business in Erie. Starting May 24, Colorado Railbike Adventures will take people down a stretch of some of the oldest tracks in the state.

The tracks date back to 1871 and were upgraded in the 1930s, Rummer said. They’re vestiges of the coal economy in this part of Weld and Boulder counties. Riders pass an old mine on the route. Rummer leases a 5-mile stretch of track from RTD.

The railbikes, which are made in Colorado Springs, seat four people. A bench can be added for little ones. They are single-speed and equipped with seatbelts and a formidable handbrake. A metal floor means neither you nor your smartphone can easily fall through.

“If you’re really cranking on the pedals, you could probably get up to about ten miles per hour,” Rummer explained as an owl looked down from a nearby tree and frogs sang in an agricultural ditch. “Most of this is a leisure activity, so we’re targeting four to five mph.” 

Riders must be accompanied by specially-trained staff. Federal Railroad Administration rules apply when it comes to safety, Rummer added. Mini turntables allow the bikes to be turned around, but they can be picked up and repositioned in an emergency. The steepest grade is 1.5%, which doesn’t sound like much until you’re pedaling in the bright sun of The Plains.

“The views you get from here– not only seeing the tracks and the timbers underneath– but being able to see the mountains from spots you wouldn’t have access to is really cool,” Rummer said – beaming.

Pedaling across a trestle over Coal Creek, one can’t help but think this activity reflects a broader change in Colorado’s economy – from extraction to recreation.

Rides are timed throughout the day. $160 for a 4-person bike, with military and first-responder discounts for Memorial Day. 4121 County Road 3, Erie, CO.