Grand Mesa Scenic Byway, Colorado
You’ve heard of an out-and-back loop, but this one is more like an up-and-back course. You’re at about 7,000 feet, so altitude is a factor as you ride through the Rockies to the Grand Mesa, a table-top geological formation that, Brad Barnard of Bicycle Adventures says, doesn’t look steep until you get to it — and then it looks ominous. The roads are smooth and low-traffic, and you’re traveling through pines, so it smells great, says Brad, “all you see is mountains.” Although if you look around, you might also see deer or raptors circling overhead, he says. The grade is mostly about 5 or 6 percent, although at points it hits 10 percent. “It’s the iconic Colorado road,” says Barnard.