Thursday, July 26, 2012

Scarps

Our last day in CB was a special one. Scott, Eszter and I rode up Gunsight Pass to Scarps. I hesitated to do this ride, not really wanting to take another stroll up Gunsight Pass (having done it solo 5 days before), but it was my last ride in CB. I shook off the lethargic attitude with a little bit of motivation from Scott and we headed to Gunsight.





"Stay on target!" quickly became the favorite phrase uttered between Scott and I as we climbed the rocky, difficult section of Gunsight.



Which of my bikes is easier for this kind of stuff.....Behemoth (which I used last time I came up Gunsight) v. Leviathan in climbing.....Leviathan easily won. I still need to get a 20t ring up front though.



Can you see the two mountain bikers?



My favorite trail in CB was Dr. Park before I rode Scarps. The views on this trail are simply out-of-this-world stunning! Check out these views!











It is tough to really see, but a few sections get close to the edge. 





Of course, you have to have a few sections of hike-a-bike.





We bombed down because of time constraints to Lake Irwin, each heading their separate ways  (Eszter went to a photoshoot, Scott headed o ride Dyke, and I went to meet K for a ride on Wagon Wheel). Thank you, Eszter , for the tour of Scarps.

After the ride back down Wagon Wheel, I headed back up with K and down again and cruised for a thai burrito at Teocali Tamale. One final ride before we left CB.

Crested Butte, you left me speechless and in awe. I will be back and soon.....


403 to 401

The previous later ride that yielded some good rain meant an early morning ride for both Scott and I. Today was going to be a 5-6 hour ride from Mt. Crested Butte again. The route was Snodgrass to Washington Gulch, 403, up to the pass to 401 and back to Mt. CB.
 



Washington Gulch Road















Best place for lunch in CB.....on the 403, roast beef sandwiches and fritos. Mmmmmmmm.











Scott veered back home after the 403, so I was left solo to ride the 401. It is easy to see why this is labeled as the must-do, classic trail for CB. I was surprised to see how many people shuttle this ride. In fact, the entire time I was in CB, I kept seeing the same cars/people drive to the trailheads. Understandably so at times because of the lack of connecting singletrack.

I met a few people while riding the upper sections. Including a couple from Denver (shown below in white on trail).
 



Upper 401

Although as I got lower, they seemed to all veer off to Gothic Rd. Not sure if it was the rain storm that scared them away, but in any case, I got to ride the lower section without seeing anyone.



I headed home on the contoured, fast Gothic Rd just before a rain storm hit.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Timberline Trail

After talking over the idea of doing another bikepacking trip, Scott and I decided on doing two day trips around town.

Scott had to drop M off at Frisco, so we meat half way at Taylor Park to explore Timberline Rd. I rode to Tincup while Scott was heading over Cottonwood Pass....one car at Taylor Park, the other at Tincup was the plan.

We climbed up from Tincup and soon came across the best view of the day...


....Mirror Lake.




This section of Timberline was the best part of the day.





Phenomenal views of the valley below, this is how a trail named "timberline" should be.

The rest of the trip was on mediocre back roads/singletrack, although there were a few fun moments.



Mmmmmm....gummy worms and mike ike's

We got a little bit of rain as we headed north toward Cottonwood. After working on the Continental Divide Trail two weeks before this ride, I was surprised to see the condition of the trail since it was open to motos. After the initial climb from Mirror lake, the trail could be described as rutted and in large in most places.

It did get better before it got worse.



The singletrack sections of the CDT were well done. These sections were really rocky and fun. We passed Cottonwood Pass (after a 20 minute rain storm) and dropped down. We were surprised that the trail dropped back down 2k feet from the pass.

Short on time, we decided to skip Texas Ridge. We had heard good things about this trail from JennyJo; so it was a particular bummer that we were not able to ride Texas Ridge Tr.



We stopped at this quiet, serene lake before we headed back to Taylor Park. Exploration is fun at times, although it can sometimes yield some mediocre riding. If I were to do it again, I would do the climb up from Mirror Lake and possibly head south from Tincup to Cumberland Pass toward and check out more of the CDT.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Red Lady

After a week of riding/bikepacking, Kendall and I went on an overnight backpacking trip. It was a great way to spend the weekend.

The following week, Scott and I headed back to the trails for some more riding. First day back was the Red Lady.



Scott on Snodgrass with Mt Emmons/Red Lady in the background

Turns out the mountain has an interesting history between the miners vs. the locals. It is not uncommon to see "Save the Red Lady" stickers around town. We have a similar battle with the proposed Rosemont mine on the current AZ Trail. It is a tough argument for both sides. We do need metal, but where should we be getting it from is the question.




Scott and I sped from Snodgrass to the recently-built Lupine, which unlike other CB trails, has a rather contour feel to it. We met a local running a crazy 2:1 singlespeed ratio riding up Lupine. He cited funds as the major reason for the lack of adequate gearing. I think I uttered something about not really missing my singlespeed days, especially in CB.

Scott peeled off taking the Upper/Lower Trail System just north of town.


Lupine Trail

I had a date with the Red Lady. One that would require some serious climbing with the Behemoth.

Along the way, there were several moments to rest and take in the view.





Although lurking storms increased my motivation to get up to the top faster.



Including a late afternoon storm. It seemed as though the later morning start times were starting to have an adverse impact on the rides. I escaped the major rain storm by hiding out in an old mine.



After it let up, I started the climb back up to 12,400. The storm in the above picture skirted to the east thankfully, allowing some more uninterrupted climbing. 



Hike-a-bike anyone? I had to walk quite a bit. I figured it was either the Behemoth's weight or the gearing, maybe even the rain contributed to it.....that said, perhaps you could ride this without dabbing?



I took a few more pictures before reaching the top. After 2.5 hours of climbing, I was expecting for a little more view, but it was blocked by a 360 degree cloud cover. Bummer.

Those clouds quickly became darker and scarier. Not what I had in mind of a solo run down Red Lady.

I hurried as fast as I could to the summit, running the hike-a-bike at times. I hesitated at times, questioning myself....should I just turn around and ride back down the dirt road?

The rain was back. Shoot! It made it harder to hike up the crushed rocks.

Next a huge crack of thunder. What was I doing up here?! 



Then came the flat, which I had to use two GI/Stan's plugs. Fixed it immediately. 

I raced down the mountain while the thunder and rain kept coming (raced=as fast as humanly possible given the conditions). Getting back to the tree line was the immediate goal.

As soon as I got back into the pines, things seemed to be a little more calm...



and the wildflowers seemed a little brighter because of the rain. The beauty of nature, from the thunder to the wildflowers. Despite it all, I did enjoy the ride, although I may have missed a few moments to really *enjoy* the descent.



Saturday, July 21, 2012

Crested Butte Bikepacking


After a few days of riding in Crested Butte, Scott, Lee and I decided on a loop for bikepacking. The exact route was not really known, but we had a general idea of where we would be going...east toward Crystal Mountain and then to the south toward Gunnison.

 We headed out from our condo with a map and an idea on the Upper Loop




Techy? Yes, please!



Right, like I said, we had a general idea of where we were going. Bikepacking in the purist form can be what you want it can be, slow or fast, planned or unplanned....the list can continue. We were choosing slow and plan-as-you-go.




The Lat-40 map was consulted periodically to confirm route details.

A lack of rain has meant a "mediocre wildflower season." That is not to say they are not out and available to enjoy.






We headed on Bush Creek toward Crystal Mountain (shown below in white).



Most of the trails/roads before this section were a reasonable grade.



This all changed as we Double Top Tr.



We took lunch near the steepest climb of the day...












Here is Lee pushing his bike up to the pass on Double Top. Scott had a pretty valiant effort trying to climb this section. Nearly all of the trails we rode are moto trails also. The trail builders have an interesting love for concrete (cinder) blocks. If the grade is above ~17% in this are, it is bound to be paved with these blocks.



The blocks work well in some areas while others might just benefit from some switchbacks.











Crystal Mountain is simply stunning....Scott was all smiles despite the steep climb.



Double Top was a thing of beauty from the beginning. The trail began to climb only to descend only to climb through some beautiful meadows. With very little Colorado singletrack riding experience, I was in singletrack heaven.





The trail had some serious trail improvement for the first few miles.



Including some table-tops done to raise the trail in the forest areas.



Moto trails are still moto trails though...although Double Top did not disappoint. As with any moto trail, you need to have a little sense of adventure and a gearing that works (20x36 would be ideal).









After Double Top, we descended Waterfall and rode to Cement Creek. I had an unlucky moment where I hit a rock on a curvy section of trail, burped the front tire and went flying. Scott will probably post up some good photos of the dirty aftermath.

We went down Cement Creek to Deadman's Pass, famous for its steep, switchback climbs. The switchback-dab game was on between Scott and I. After 5 hours of riding on a fully loaded bike, it was gonna be a tough climb.

Each time, one of us yelled to the other, "Did you clean that one?"

Followed by a "you know it."

Unfortunately no bets were made...but the winner did barely win by a margin of 1 dab.





As the sun began to set, so came the rain.



And with the rain came some beautiful lighting. I tried ti capture it the best I could, but sometimes it is hard to capture when you have such a large 360-view. This was the best moment of the trip, truly confirming one reason why we bikepacking...the evenings and mornings on the bike.





It began to rain on us right was we decided to set up camp on a surreal meadow named Julie Andrews from the Sound of Music.



The 4-person Black Diamond Mega Light tent came in handy. We tied the tent to the top of the tree instead of bringing the extra carbon fiber pole. We fit everyone under the tent while it rained. I'd recommend it for anyone that bikepacks/backpacks, especially if you do some group bikepacking trips.

The sun woke us up in such a brilliant way. It truly was a perfect camping spot. The tent really aided in a restful night of sleep.





The next morning we rolled out after some coffee and english muffins.



The Leviathan 4.0 bike and Carousel Designs setup



Down Julie Andrews Meadow....



Rosebud Trail



...and on to Rosebud. Once again, these early morning bikepacking moments attest to the glory of bikepacking. 



After Rosebud, we started the climb to Dr. Park, the once Gunnison Spur of the Colorado Trail. The climb up had some good views of where we had slept along with the previous day ride.

Although the real treat came in the form of the descent on the other side. Dr. Park is one of the best descents in CO. It seemed to go on foveeeeeverrrrrr. The descent was made better by having the perfect grade (pedaling was never required for the most part) and there were evenly placed water bars.



Scott's face says it all. It is tradition to yell on sick singletrack. There was a lot going on while descending this fine piece of trail. It is, without a doubt, my favorite descent in CB.



The descent continued with some recently, upgrade switchbacks to Granite Campground and a few B-lines if you knew they were coming (we missed one). We ate lunch in Harmel's before continuing on.

We headed to Jack's Cabin Cuttoff and had to put in a few highway miles before rolling up Caves Trail via Cement Rd.



More views and switchbacks abound on Caves. What is not to like about CB....steep riding with sweet views!?



From Caves, we veered north toward Crested Butte on Farris Trail. It is hard to think of a better way to end a bikepacking trip than on this rocky goodness.




The recap of the 2-day loop
The total miles was 77 with 16,400 feet of climbing. 
Here is the route: Upper Loop-Whetsone-Brush Creek Rd-Double Tr-Waterfall-Cement Creek Rd-Deadman's Pass-Cement Mtn Tr-Rosebud-Dr. Park-Jack's Cabin Cuttoff-Highway-Caves-Farris-Bike Path back to town.

There are tons of options to add to the loop. Check out the Lat 40 map of Crested Butte. 

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