Monday, August 06, 2012

Climbing fest 2012

Greetings from Crested Butte, CO. Got here yesterday- what a cool town! First stop- Big Al's Bicycle Heaven for the scoop on the best trails and camping. Check. Stop 2- The Mountain Bike Hall of Fame....much smaller than I imagined but a good bit of memorabilia from the early days. Stop 3- Teocali Tamale Burritos for sustenance. Off to our luxurious accommodations at the nearby Campsite on Slate Creek Rd. Bed.
Wake up at 6 am, choke down some oatmeal and we're off. The plan was to ride up Slate Creek Rd, hit Washington Gulch Rd over to Trail 403, descend that, hang a left up Gothic Rd (to the top of the world apparently), climb then descend 401, hang a left on Gothic, descend back to town, take Lupine trail back to Slate Creek Rd, then back up to the campsite.
Pedaling up Slate Creek Rd in the early dawn was quite chilly as we had a few miles before climbing in earnest. Right about when I was pondering how we would ascend the ridge we hung a right and found out. Straight to the low gear for the next hour as we climbed 2,500 feet asap to the top of 403 and up into the sunlight. Steep and riddled with switchbacks and loose rocks the road seemed to go straight up forever. I focused on turning the cranks over in smooth circles and ignoring the wandering livestock and increasing altitude and soon topped out with a beautiful panorama of mountains. We could see all the way back down the valley to Crested Butte. Matt arrived shortly and down we a big way. Trail 403 was very steep, we dropped 2,000 feet in something like 1 1/2 miles. The trail was steep, rocky, and full of switchbacks but very fast as well. 3/4 of the way down my brakes were suffering from some serious brake fade and the switchbacks were becoming much more exciting as a result! It was a blast after all the climbing so we hung a left right into another 1,500 feet of climbing. Yay! Head down, focusing on pedaling again, we headed up and away. I could see trail 401 about 1,000 feet above me to the right up on the mountainside. Eventually we made the pass at the top hitting 4,600 feet of climbing in 15.5 miles. Time for the payoff and some downhill! Downhill we got! 401 lived up to the hype. Screaming fast and smooth the trail clung to the side of the mountain and dove down through the tall wildflowers everywhere. Soon some smooth, fast switchbacks came on the scene furthering the fun factor. Big time fun descent. Down we went, eventually dumping out on Gothic Rd again near the micro town of Gothic, CO. Looked like population 15 to me. We pushed on down the gravel, then up the gravel. 4 miles went by very quickly and soon we were screaming down the pavement through the Mt. Crested Butte Ski Area at twice the speed limit. After almost blowing a big sweeper on pavement, talk was had of The Wreck of The Century part Deux. Fortunately, that was put on hold as we hit the climb up to the Lupine Trail. The old legs were protesting loudly after the nearly 6,000 feet of climbing already done and being cold from the pavement descent. A rhythm was soon found again as the pavement then trail wound upward. After topping out, we began another ripping downhill with smooth, fast singletrack in and out of aspen groves. Up and down the trail followed the ridge for a couple of miles. Super fun, we dropped off the ridge and the downhill started. Berms and jumps littered the trail as we sped downward on superb dirt. All too soon, the trail ended and we found ourselves climbing again, this time on the gravel back up to our campsite- a welcome sight after a tough ride. Back to town for a well earned Pizza was the next stop Gotta say- Crested Butte's trails have lived up to their reputation! DH

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