Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Crested Butte

Thoughts on Crested Butte: Beautiful vistas, top-notch mountain biking, beautiful weather (75 and dry every day), athletic people, great beer, pm thunderstorms, small-town feel, dogs and hippy's.

Mountain bike trails: Upper Loop, Upper Upper Loop, Trail 401, Teocalli Ridge, Green Lake Trail

Thursday, Aug 4

Bummed about leaving Crested Butte and the cool hostel, but it is time to get moving. This place was amazing, with awesome outdoor activities at the doorstep of the small town (with no stoplights). Another cool thing about CB is that they don’t let any large companies (Walmart) or franchises (Starbucks) in the town. All the stores and restaurants are locally owned and run, and they have great food options. I will miss this place, and hope to return, but time to hit Durango for some more serious mountain biking!

Erin was able to score me a free breakfast at Teocalli Tamale where she works a second job...I like free food! Went on an advanced horseback ride on the way out of town…I have ridden a horse before, so does that allow for me to qualify for this advanced trail ride?!? Ride was cool, but we got hit with another huge thunderstorm. The drive to Durango should have been beautiful, but I was in a horrible rainstorm the entire drive trying to navigate some gnarly roads with HUGE drop-offs into deep gorge's.

Wednesday, Aug 3

I went and grabbed a really good breakfast at one of my favorite restaurants downtown. After that, went to a local bike shop and spent nearly 3 hours cleaning my bike and replacing all of the cabling and cable housing. Bike is running smooth now!

Went out for a cool ride up to a lake, but had another storm roll in on me (should have learned by now not to ride in the late afternoon). I decided to push through the storm b/c it was pretty light, and I was coming down the same trail I went up, and knew that I could bomb down in very fast! I was less than a mile from the lake, and some lightning struck, and decided my ride was over. After over an 1:15 of climbing, I bombed down the mountain (SWEET descent) in less than 20 minutes. Trail conditions were still ok and it was a blast! Time to grab a bite and my last beer in CB!

Tuesday, Aug 2

Woke up early to get over to the Taylor River for a morning of white water kayaking. First went and practiced my kayak roll in a pond with my guide Sam. After about 30 minutes of practice, I was ready to rock and roll. Sam asked if I wanted to run the upper section (class III) or the lower section (class II). I don’t have any experience running rivers, so asked him which he thought I should do. He wouldn’t give me an answer so I said “Hey, you only live once, I’m all in for the tougher river.”

Got on the river, and it was beautiful out (the norm for Crested Butte). But, the water temp was freezing…I hope I don’t have to swim (pull-out) of my kayak today! Over the second rapid, I got dumped over…here we go. I try to roll once, no success (but I do get a breath of air), second time nearly made it back up, but lost my balance in the white water, and on the third time, I made it over! Phew!! Combat roll successful!! I started to get more comfortable paddling the longer I was on the water, and rocked through some cool rapids (mostly technical, not big water). Great time, now off to meet up with Ben (UK buddy) and Erin (hostel employee, pro skier) to go for a ride.

Time to hit the Teocalli ridge trail, one of the best in the area. Ben’s legs are too sore, and Erin got called into work, so I head off to the trailhead solo. As I get ready to go, I see a storm brewing in the distance, so bring my long sleeve shirt along (normally the storms blow through in 20-30 minutes). After about 45 minutes of tough climbing up a fire road, I drop into some single track, and keep climbing. The storm is getting close, and it looks pretty rough. I keep pushing forward, thinking the storm will pass over me quickly. I am about half way through the ride, and the weather is getting bad pretty quickly. Bad idea to keep pushing forward, but now I am too far to turn around. Even with my long sleeve shirt, I am getting really cold and wet. The temperature has dropped down into the 40’s, and the rain here in CO is very cold. I start to lose feeling in my fingers, and can barely brake b/c my hands are so cold. I stop every 5 min to blow warm air on them, but decide it is best to keep pushing through this storm b/c there is no clearing in site and I am very cold at this point. I start getting somewhat concerned about the situation, as I am now only going downhill (no climbing), and the wind against my hands is a problem. Pretty soon the trail conditions deteriorate greatly also. Unfortunately, I still have my fast race tires on the bike, with a small tread (horrible in mud). I start sliding around quite a bit, but it is tough to control my speed b/c it is difficult to brake with my cold hands. In addition, the trails have turned to complete mud and slop, and I am sliding all around the trails. Even worse, mud has now totally caked my bike (check the pics)…to where I can no longer change gears and use my brakes. I am now controlling my speed with one leg hanging off my bike and kicking against the side of the trail to slow down. I go down hard a few times b/c of the lack of control…but getting close to getting off this ridge! I finally make it down, and come across a campsite of a bunch of bikers and they can’t believe I was up there. They have a fire going, and I spend about 20 minutes warming up. I finally get feeling back in my fingers…phew!! Probably the roughest ride I have ever done, and my bike weighs nearly 15 more pounds than normal with all the mud (it sure was tough to load onto the roof of the Xterra)! Certainly not the ride I was expecting!
Very tired, so just hung out at the hostel and watched a few skiing videos with friends from the hostel...nice and relaxing.

Monday, Aug 1

Fun night last night with Donny (racing buddy) and Ben (UK guy who is staying in the hostel). We got some of the best pizza in town, then headed to the locals bar in town. I was running the foosball table for a while…until some guy Hamilton got on the table. Man, he was good. He finally admits to us that at one point in his life, he was ranked 18th in the US in foos. He was good…but I don’t know if he was that good ;)

I went out and rode a top 10 mountain bike trail in the US, the 401 trail. It was unbelievable. The terrain was great, started with a really long climb up over 12,000 feet (yikes, no air). Then kept climbing, and popped over the ridge to have an amazing view of the valley and all the mountains. Totally stunning. Check out the pics.

Sunday, July 31

RACE DAY! Another rough night of sleep, and I am feeling a little lethargic. I am hoping this wears off once the race starts. Gun goes off at 9am, and the field looks really tough with lots of top-notch Colorado athletes who train a ton (at altitude, added bonus for them). During the swim, I did not feel like I had the normal power in my stroke…I think this is the result of no longer training, and just swimming during races. I hit the mountain bike course hard, but quickly get stuck behind some slower riders, and the single track is too narrow to pass. I slowly work my way around some of these strong swimmers, and start picking up speed. Half way through the race is the big climb of the day. I planned to middle-ring the climb (medium gear), knowing that it would be steep and hard, but thought I was capable to push through it and pass a bunch of people. About a third of the way up the mountain it starts to get tough. My legs feel like lead (lack of sleep/no recovery time/pre-ride?) and my lungs are burning from the altitude. Not quite the feeling I was hoping for at this point. I am forced to drop into my small chainring and get in line and ride with others (versus passing them). I get to the run, and my knee starts to hurt immediately…not a good sign. I get passed by a bunch of runners on the road, hold my own back in the single track, and get passed by a few more runners on the road. I am frustrated about my knee, and decide I am not racing next year unless it heals this off-season. It is too annoying to get passed on the run after putting in the hard work on the bike and swim. I finish up the race, but it was not a very good race for me. Legs just were not there throughout it…oh well. I think I placed around 6th/7th in my age group, but will update this once the results are posted.

I am enjoying Crested Butte so much, and there are so many trails I want to ride, that I have decided to change my schedule. I am no longer going to go out to Brian Head Utah to race a NORBA mountain bike race (my body needs a weekend off from racing). Here is my new schedule:

Crested Butte – through Aug 2nd
Durango, CO – Aug 2 – Aug 5
Moab, UT – Aug 5 – Aug 8
Fruita, CO – Aug 8 – Aug 10
Keystone, CO – Aug 10 – Aug 14

About to shoot off to grab a few recovery beers with a guy I raced with today. These Colorado breweries have some SWEET beer!

Saturday, July 30

Did not get a very good night of sleep even though I lucked out and ended up with my own room at the hostel. Locals say that the altitude affects sleep for several weeks…this is no good.

Grabbed a quick breakfast and met up with Roger and Terry to pre-ride the race course. I tried to take it pretty easy on the pre-ride, but it was tough b/c you really had to power through some sections to make it. Also, there was a huge 4+ mile climb in the middle of the course…which starts at 9,000 feet. My lungs are feeling the altitude during the ride. The course was awesome, I am really excited about the race.

Back into town in the afternoon…and the town is absolutely beautiful. Amazing mountains all around, a cool downtown area (no stoplights in town) and some of the best mountain biking in the US. This is pretty sweet…not sure if I am going to leave Sun afternoon as planned. Grabbed dinner with some racers, and went home to prep for the race.

Friday, July 29

Woke up in my last morning of my little cabin in Colorado Springs. Time to head to Crested Butte, but noticed I was driving right by the Arkansas River and some great whitewater rafting. I got a 12:30 reservation with Dvorkian Expeditions to raft some class IV/V whitewater, the Royal Gorge. I ended up in a raft with just two guides (they goofed up the reservation)…so enjoyed a day on the river with Kevin (Coloradan) and Brian (New Zealander). These guys love to travel, so we talked about all sorts of cool vaca spots. I convinced Brian to head to Costa Rica once the rafting season is over this fall. The rafting was ok, but not as big as I was hoping for (not as big as some rivers we have run in WV)…but certainly a good time b/c it was a beautiful day.

I then got back on the road, noticed a rodeo was going on in Gunnison and stopped in to check it out. When I finally arrived in Crested Butte, it was getting late and I was starving. Roger was doing this race with his girlfriend Terry, so I met up with them for dinner and a few drinks.

Trip Odomoter has just crossed the 2,000 mile point. The SUV certainly does not like climbing these big Rocky mountains…I hope it makes it!

Thursday, July 28 (part 2)

Hit some local trails with Roger, and they were awesome. He is a very strong technical rider, and he certainly pushed me to keep up with him (taking some bigger drops then I would on my own). After wiping out over the handlebars on a steep downhill…into some rocks…I decided to ease up a bit. Don’t want to get hurt before the race this weekend.
Headed downtown for dinner with Martha and Adam, and met up with some of their friends at a little dive spot downtown (Tony’s). Then we headed to Old Chicago to get some local beers on tap…which were awesome (Sunshine Wheat, Fat Tire Ale, etc.).


At 2:14 PM, Anonymous Christy said...

Have you gotten in any good reeds?


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