Lookout Mountain is buzzing even more than usual these days. We're seeing record numbers of cyclists on the hill, buzzing with lactic acid and the type of joie d'velo that only a top-notch hillclimb can provide. But Lookout is buzzing in other more sinister ways as well. Due to its status as a repository for communications towers of all types, the top of the mountain has long been a-buzz with powerful amounts of microwave radiation. That radio frequency radiation (RF) will soon increase when a new 750-foot HDTV tower to be shared by all the stations in the area is completed.
Residents fought the proposed 'supertower' over several years, alarmed by research from the Colorado Department of Public Health that found persistent elevated levels of brain tumors in males living near the existing antennae farm, and more recent research by a team from Colorado State University which found a solid link between the electromagnetic field on Lookout Mountain and mysterious biological changes in residents. But the TV stations dug in their heels. The wishes of residents, the warnings of scientists and testimony from about a dozen physicians were not enough to overcome the ultimately inconclusive nature of the research (how do you determine precisely that this or that caused your cancer when everything and nothing could) and the sheer power behind the media consortium, which went straight to Washington to conjure laws to override any local attempt at blocking the tower, going over residents' heads in more ways than one. The 'supertower' will be completed some time this Spring.
Radiation aside, Lookout is a great ride. The road was built for tourists in 1920s-era autos and is appropriately lengthy, meandering and moderate, all the way to the top where Buffalo Bill Cody lies in eternal rest near the base of Channel 2's antenna. Riders who begin from the traditional parking area at the park will actually be skipping quite a lot of elevation gain that can be enjoyed by starting down in Golden proper, or from the School of Mines campus. As moderate as the hill is, it does lend itself to repeated assaults. If you really want to find out how slow you are, check yourself against the record set by Tom Danielson in 2006: 16:02 from the stone pillars.
Photos: (left) Tiny downtown Denver about 15 miles east. (right) A frozen pond near the summit portends frozen nipples for ill-equipped February descenders.