Sunday, September 28, 2008

Crested Butte Classic

Well I decided to try the infamous Crested Butte Classic mountain bike race Sept. 27 2008. The race does three loops around Crested Butte on classic single track trails... Oh did I mention it is 100 miles..... And it is not an official race. People just sign up at the start and then ride on the public trails. There are no rules, trail marking (for route finding--people from out of town must have a serious problem here.) or prizes. After each lap you stop at your car or cooler or whatever grab some more water and food, then stop by the local Brick Oven Pizza and check in. Then out for the next lap. There was free beer at the finish however.


I did the Leadville 100 mountain in August and had done pretty well-see post below. Well I hadn't ridden nearly as much as I had neglected the kids and Anne riding my bike so much all summer. But I figured I had a good base. I did feel a bit tired after some weekend rides but....


So Gary Pierson, Chris Dickey, Jesse Rickert (a Mt Everst summiter) and I all caravaned up to Crested Butte at 6:30 that morning. The temperature was reading 29F as we came into town. We parked near the 4-way stop in town to set up our aid stations.... Then over to the 4-way stop to sign up and listen to the trail overview and instructions. We started out with 106 or so riders at 8:00 and about 30F. We started later in the year to avoid tourists on the trails... The aspens were turing yellow nicely and the sky was clear. Down the highway we went for lap one. Deer Creek trail with Strand Hill as a prelude. Here is a map of the first lap in orange..... about 30 miles and 4142 ft of climbing.



I started out in front and seemed to ride pretty fast as the lead guys weren't too far ahead. The trails were in beautiful shape with yellow aspen leaves covering many parts. I decided to ride light with my old Specialized hard tail. I carried a CO2 cartridge, spare tire, several gu's/power bars and two water bottles. I was noticeably faster on the uphills but slower on the downhills on my bike as some guys caught me on Strand Hill. I don't really ride this trail much. The Crested Butte guys knew this trail very well and went down it very fast. I cranked up the start of Deer Creek feeling good. The weather was nice as it was still cool but really nice for climbing the hills. I took off my vest and arm warmers and promptly lost my vest along the trail....


I remember the first time I rode this trail it seemed so long and steep. There are some really steep climbs off the start. This time I just walked one unridable section (by the mortal person anyway). One cool place on the trail you are right on the edge of a very very steep ravine made of shale. It is smooth and grey and straight down. You then descend down through aspens next to it. I nearly took myself out on an aspen but I just winged my shoulder on one sharp narrow corner. I did get back to the town of Gothic without incident. I did have a few weird cramps in my groins that seemed to go away as I kept peddling. And back down the road to Town. I grabbed some more gu's, drank some water, and checked my blood sugar--95..... Then back to the pizza place to check in. Lap one took 2:41 or so after stopping at the car.

Here is a picutre of me and another fellow (Dax from boulder) coming down the road from Gothic. Thanks Matt Burt for the pictures!!


Here is a map of lap two. About 35 miles and 5150ft of climbing.



Then you head out of the north west side of town and do the lower loop trail to slate river. This trail is a beginner trail and had some people on it.... Then a good section of fairly flat road to the old townsite of Pittsburg. Then you do a serious climb up to the 403 trail. I wished I had brought more water as I began to cramp some more--this time in the hamstrings.. I caught a really fast guy Ethan Passant from Crested Butte at the top as he was suffering from cramps and had to stop. Weird really as it was cool and I had been drink lots of electrolyte replacement... So you hit 403 trail and have to climb some more and then some technical downhill down to the schofield pass road above gothic. A quick left turn and up to the top of Schofield pass. Here you hit 401 trail and to the beginner it must seem awful as you have a good climb up the trail to get to the top... I have taken to riding up the single track to the top versus the traditional road up the pass. I think it is easier and there are no cars. Just people coming down.... 401 was very nice and fast coming down... In the middle of summer the flowers are so high on 403 and 401 that you can barely see the trails... But by this time of year the trail was all open as the plants had been frozen. and had fallen down. 401 trail keeps going at the bottom of the main hill but for the race we came out and hit the road and back past Gothic and to town. Here I took a little more time at my car to oil my chain, drink some more and grab my rain jacket as I lost my vest and it was starting to rain over Kebler pass where I was headed. I checked my sugar and it was around 150. I had eaten a power bar between gothic and CB. I got to the pizza place and thankfully someone had returned my vest! I was into the ride 6:15 hrs (I think--OK I can't remember but I was a little over 3 hrs on the second lap...). I was in 6th or 7th place... in the solos.

Here is a picture of me coming down the 401 trail. Again thanks to Matt B. If you notice I had gu's stuck in the legs of my shorts. This way it was easy access on the trails...

Here is lap 3. about 26 miles and 3800ft of climbing. The map shows a big notch in the elevation profile which is a bug in my software. So we estimate the elevation to be 3500-3800ft or so...




Here is a picuture near Kebler pass on Saturday.

It was looking cooler and like it was raining on Kebler pass so I put on my vest and up we went the 6 miles up to the turn off to the old Irwin town site. The road was wet and it was windy. The road is well traveled and the magnesium chloride/mud began to spray on my and coat my bike. Once this gets on the bike (chain) it sticks like crazy..... I got to the top with some intestinal distress and had to stop of a few minutes......and I got passed by a guy! And then off to the Dyke trail. OK before you get all PC on me it's a VOLCANIC DYKE. Ya know a geologic feature... So the trail here had been rained on nicely and was a slippery gloppy mud. This really wasn't fun as my bike quickly picked up 10-15lbs of mud and I had no trackion and had to walk up many hills that I could have ridden. Also not having disc brakes was a disadvantage. I finally got to the point where the trail drops steeply to the other side of Kebler pass. It was windy and trying to rain the whole way and the trail was slippery from the rain and rocky from the many horses that used it. I made it OK but my hands were frozen and I was feeling tired from the mud and the 85 or so miles up to this point. Some nice ladies helped me get my rain jacket on as I couldn't move my fingers very well. They were waiting for one of their freinds. It was really windy and I was a little cold from the descent. I climbed what seemed like forever on the very wet Kebler pass and finally made it to the top. Now it was down hill 6 or so miles back to the pizza place. I got back in 7th place and 9:02 total time. Very wet and muddy and I have to say more tired than I had been in a long time..... I had a beer (free)and some pizza and some M&MS from a great girl, Maddy T, who was waiting for her husband on his second lap. Many people didn't start the last lap as it had started raining in town and on the 401 trail. I talked to friends then changed in the public bathroom and drove home.... I could barely stay awake as I read books to Lila that night.......

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