There’s no need for me to tell you how much I like Crested Butte and how amazing the mountain biking is or how much trail there is. I’ve covered all of that before. For the Labor Day weekend we headed back to Crested Butte with friends for a what turned out to be a weekend packed full of amazing mountain biking. I’d done a lot of cross-country riding in Crested Butte, but Evan hadn’t done quite as much and some of our friends hadn’t done any. The options seemed endless. Thursday night we poured over the map in awe at all of our options. We decided on a couple of rides that were high on our “to-do” list and finally forced ourselves to put the map away.
Totally irrelevant to all of the biking we did in CB, but awesome still, there were tons of open range cattle on the way and on every trail we rode. I love open range cattle so much. I kind of just like cows I suppose.
I did not to get to cuddle any or slap any on the ass, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying. It is unfortunately but probably for the best.
Anyhow, when we got to CB on Friday we settled in then hit the Alpineer for some trail beta. I wasn’t sure how we could need more trail beta after all of the map-looking and interneting we had done the night before, but it turned out to be extremely valuable information. Local bike shop knowledge is always valuable information, I’m not sure why I doubted it for even a millisecond.
Our Latitude 40 Map of Crested Butte and Taylor Park was spot on for every ride and all of trails in the area are extremely well signed. So, I’m not going to give detailed trail descriptions. Get a map, read signs.
Day 1: Green Lake Trail
Our “short” and “easy” ride.
With our newly acquired trail knowledge we headed out for our first ride. The Green Lake Trail. It was a 4.5 mile out and back. The trail was really pretty and for the most part fairly smooth climbing gradually. There were some steep sections and the upper section of the trail got quite a bit rockier, but it was a pretty short section. On the way down we noticed that the leaves were starting to change and it made for some gorgeous views on all of our rides and some colorful trail decorations as well.
We took our time knowing that we had a lot more riding ahead of us, but that didn’t stop us from zooming on the descent. It was a hoot and definitely a great way to start the weekend. The whole ride covered around 9 miles and took us probably just shy of 2 hours. My Garmin had died so I’m not 100% sure.
Post ride we had a hankering for margaritas. We wandered into Mexicali Grill and they had Beermargs on the menu! Well, they called them River Margs, but we prefer Beermarg or Cervesarita. Cheap beer + cheap tequila + limeade = surprisingly delicious. We agree.
Day 2: Reno/Flag/Bear/Doctor’s
The Big Ride.
Yea, shuttle logistics are a major pain in the ass. I hate shuttling, but I have made an exception for this ride not once, but twice and would do it again in a heartbeat. It is definitely in my top three most favorite rides in all of Colorado and after this weekend it might even be in the numero uno slot. I remembered the Doctor’s descent being fantastic, but I didn’t remember how insanely fun the descents before Doctor’s were too.
The climb up Reno Divide Road isn’t super fun, but totally tolerable and doable. Don’t drive it. Just ride it.
The Flag descent was way more fun than I remembered and I loved every second of it. There are a few rocky, rooty sections of climbing on Flag or Bear, not really sure where the trail switches, but most it is just beautiful rolling singletrack with cows.
The weather was crazy on us. The saying “if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes” could not have been more true this weekend. Coat on, coat off. Long sleeves on, long sleeves off. I think that means fall is in the air. Also, those fiery yellow aspen trees are a pretty strong sign of fall.
We pedaled and smiled and pedaled some more. Even with a big group we were moving right along and everyone was riding super strong.
The fun-factor on the descents of this ride builds. Flag is a hoot, the Bear Creek takes it up a notch. It traverses for a bit then heads into the woods and lets loose into fast fun trail on the edge of a gully with a few rocky sections a few sections of “root balls” and a whole lot of fast corners.
I remembered the climb up Doctor’s Gulch to Doctor’s Park being the worst climb ever. I was not looking forward to it, especially 20 or so miles in. Amazingly, it wasn’t that awful. It was steep and seemed long, but it was totally manageable. I’m not sure if my expectations were better or if I was riding stronger. Either way, it was worth every struggle of a pedal stroke.
The Doctor’s descent starts out rocky, rooty, and steep, but turns into the most perfect singletrack on the most perfect pitch with the most perfect turns through the most perfect aspen trees. I felt like I was flying, but I wanted to go faster. I giggled all the way down.
How do they make it so fun? I don’t think it could get any better.
GPS Route & Stats: Reno/Flag/Bear/Doctor’s (there was not 12,000+ feet of climbing, I’m not sure where Garmin got that. Probably 4,500 or so)
Day 3: The 401
The Classic Ride.
We had some Crested Butte newbies in our group so the 401 was a must. Last time I rode the 401 I really wasn’t all that impressed. This time, much more impressed.
We climbed the road. The climbing itself wasn’t that awful, but the cars and sheer amount of traffic on the road sucked pretty bad.
The views. Those didn’t suck.
We more than took our time on the road climb and enjoyed the outstanding vistas.
Once we hit the trail head we rested, fueled up and made the final push up the singletrack climb. All twelve or however many switchbacks. They were much easier than I remembered – steep, but nothing technical. My tired legs managed to get me up the hill pretty okay though.
The day was clear and at the top of the climb the back of the Maroon Bells was in view. I never realized it was visible from the 401 so it was pretty cool to see.
The beginning of the descent isn’t my favorite, but there are some ripping sections for sure. This time around the early turns and switch backs had a lot of brake bumps. Not that awesome. The traverse is really beautiful, but I’m afraid to look at anything because I might go crashing down the hillside since it is so exposed.
Once the trail isn’t so exposed and the descent through the aspens begins it was a hoot! I do not remember that at all from the last time we rode it. Give me aspen trees and a down hill and I’m stoked. Doesn’t matter if I’m on a bike, skis, or my feet. It rocks.
The second climb was brutal. It was also covered in cow poo and eventually we were too. We mobbed through the descent and it was over way too quickly.
GPS Route & Stats: The 401
Day 4: 409.5
The new ride.
I was exhausted on Sunday. I wasn’t going to ride. Well, I wasn’t going to do a big ride, but somehow Evan convinced me. As always, I’m glad he did.
This was a new ride for the four of us that set-out on it. We didn’t want to shuttle which meant we had a lot of road to ride. More than we really thought. From what the map showed there were several ways to ride to the 409.5 trail, but from what we heard most were gruesome climbs and by climbs I mean hike-a-bikes. We opted for the longer ride with a lower suffer factor. I’m not sure that it was truly worth it. I might choose more suffering for a shorter duration next time around.
We parked on Brush Creek Road, zipped out to the highway and down to Cement Creek Road, up that for a bit then up Walrod trail, to 405 which is Warm Springs I believe, then to 402.5A which is also a segment of Doubletop, then to 409.5. It was about a 6 mile climb from the road much of which was traversy, but there were some steep climbs that were a bitch on the legs after four days of riding.
Where Walrod narrows down to singletrack was by far the worst. It was about 350 feet of vert over around .25 miles and it was loose and rocky. My legs would get up that on a good day!
After some more tough climbing and an amazing traverse around a valley, we made it to our destination – 409.5.
It wasn’t my favorite descent, but it sure was good. There were more roots and rocks on this than any of our other descents and also some fun little jumps mixed in.
Overall the descent was a blast, but the ascent to descent ratio was a little off for my taste and the fun-factor of the trail wasn’t quite high enough to make up for it. Like I said, I’d consider the shorter ascent (hike-a-bike) next time. Also, with more time and fresher legs making the short climb to Strand Hill after the 409.5 descent would be worth it. It was tempting, but I don’t think my legs could have pedaled up another climb no matter how minimal.
We finished the ride at nearly 21 miles and I was 100% spent.
GPS Route & Stats: 409.5
After feeling like I haven’t been on my bike much, four amazing days and nearly 75 miles of riding has me itching for more high-country rides this fall and has made me a tiny bit less eager to ski for now.
What are your favorite mountain bike rides?