Colorado and bicycling go together, like the proverbial peas and carrots. But let's say you are new to Colorado or to bicycling, or both. For whatever reason you have stumbled on the road cycling or mountain biking culture and want to get involved. So you do your research, hit the web, ask your buddies, and check out some local Denver area bicycle shops. This quick scratch of the surface can easily have you in over your head with choices and information. There are road bikes, mountain bikes, comfort bikes and various brands. How do you find the best bike for you?

Colorado offers one of the most diverse and complete playgrounds for road cyclists and mountain bikers. If you live in Denver or any of the surrounding suburbs you have access to basically every type of terrain, and there is a bike designed for each one. So, the first step in the process is deciding where and how you would like to ride your bike.

Whether you're mountain biking the miles of single-track trails along the Colorado Front Range, taking in the beautiful scenery along the Cherry Creek bike path, commuting to work from Aurora to Denver, or just enjoying a cruise in your neighborhood with the kids, there is a bike specifically made to do each one. Your local Denver area bicycle shops will have the expertise and equipment you need to understand your options and find the best bike. Here are specific points to focus on.

• Find a reputable, friendly and enthusiastic bike shop, then build a relationship. Bikes are fun, and so are the people who ride them. Shopping for, buying, and ultimately riding your bike should be too.

• Professionally "Fit" Your Bike. Think of your bike along the lines of a tailor made garment. It might be the flashiest designer label of the moment, but if it doesn't fit you're not going to be comfortable. True, bikes come in many sizes, but people come in more. Once the right size frame is determined, it needs to be further adjusted or "tailored" to fit your body specifically. If a shop does not offer professional bicycle fitting services, keep searching for one that does.

• Ask to meet (and get to know) the service department. A bicycle is a machine. And like any machine, it will need adjustments and repairs from time to time. Bicycle tune ups, tire changes, and brake adjustments are all things you will need. A good bike shop will offer expert bicycle repair service and support on the bikes they sell. This could be a number of free tune-ups, free or discounted lifetime adjustments, or off-season service specials.

• Don't be fearful of asking questions and expressing your interests or concerns to the sales staff. Not just about the bike itself, but riding it too. Common questions arise including "How do I properly shift and brake?" "Where are good mountain bike trails near Denver?" "How do I get from home to work (safely) using my bike?" Are there any community cycling events to get involved with?" All of this is part of the package you are looking for in the best local bike shops.

There is a very welcoming bicycle community in Colorado. Bike geeks are nothing if not passionate. We love talking, riding, and expanding the fun. Get involved with group rides that match your skill and or fitness level. Riding with other people is a blast!

The shop you choose should become a resource, not just a place to buy from. Proper selection and fitting is critical to enjoying your bike in all that Colorado has to offer.

I have worked in the Colorado Bicycle industry in some fashion since 1993. Starting off as a local customer that spent most of my free time in the bike shop...I eventually