My vacation website

Crested Butte 2001

After 6 months of planning the day finally came for our first annual mountain biking trip to Colorado. We had a total of 10 people going on the trip: myself, Mike, John, Rex, Paul, Rita, JJ, Christine, Ronan & Mark. Our three trusty SUVs, My Forester, Mark’s 4Runner and John’s Cherokee were packed with tents, food, sleeping bags and bikes. At 10:30pm on July 6th, we were ready to go. With each car having a Talkabout, we were set. Channel 3 Code 3, R.I.G. was our code name.

July 6th
I knew the trip would be different when I told everyone to be at Mike’s house between 9-9:30pm and then I found out that JJ and
Ronan were there at 8:30! We actually left Chicago at 10:30pm, a whole 1.5 hours before schedule! We had our 3 trucks stacked to the top in the back with bikes and sacks strapped and bungied to the roof racks and trailer hitches. Our first stop was Coralville, IA where we all filled up for gas around 2am. Since the Jeep could not go over 65 mph, it took us a grueling 18 hours to get to Denver instead of the normal 13.

July 7th
We found out during the trip that Nebraska is flat and just smells like cow shit. At 4pm we arrived in Denver and checked into the Executive Tower Hotel. After carrying our bikes into the elevator we decided to head out to find dinner. We found a nice Mexican place where we ate and then headed out to the Colorado Rockies game. The Rockies were playing Anaheim and since both teams sucked we figured we could easily get tickets at the gate. To our suprise the only tickets left in a block of 11 were the $5 upper deck right field seats. My friend Lisa, who lives in Denver met us at the game. The Rockies got smashed and Rex and Mike had a fun time cheering for the Angels. Afterwards, we went to a bar nearby for a few drinks and food and then headed back to the hotel. (P.S. -Mark, I am not Jo!)

July 8th
We had planned to check out the hotel by 11am, and amazingly we were out by 10am! Next it was to King Soupers to buy our grocery for the week. We had a list of planned dinners and other good stuff for the 4 nights of camping. Amazingly, the food bill was $170 for 10 people for 4 nights! That’s $4.25 per meal per person! Next it was off to Crested Butte. We took I-285 down (as per Lisa’s directions) and quickly found out that the Jeep could only go 45mph uphill. It was going to be a long ride… Along the way we saw some beautiful plains, rivers and mountains. The only hitch came when the Colorado State Trooper gave the Jeep a ticket (Sorry, John). At around 4:30pm we arrived in Crested Butte, where the speed limit is 15mph and that’s actually fast! Making a left to CR12 we made it to Lake Irwin around 5pm and quickly found our campsite.

One thing about camping in Colorado, the ground is rock. Those poor plastic tent stakes had no chance. I shattered two of them before giving up. So we pulled out the rope and tied our tents to trees and rocks. After setting up the tents we began our dinner which was rice w/Longaniza and Colorado Cajun Brats.

July 9th
Time for our first ride! The trail of choice was the Lower Loop trail. This trail considered easy was ~8 miles roundtrip. This trail rode along the base of Mt. Emmons and was relatively flat for the first 2 miles. Taking the upper Lower Loop brought us through dense fields with a mountain side of the left and a view of the Slate River below on the right along with Mt. Crested Butte and Mt. Snodgrass. At the turn around point on this trail, we decided to take the extra Boy Scout Trail to see the Oh-Be Joyful Creek. This trail was a slight uphill through dense trees. We could hear the rushing water as we got closer to the edge of the river. This turned out to be a spectacular site as we were about 50 feet above the river along the its edge. This was the turnaround point of the trail
and we headed back taking the lower Lower Loop. Luckily a wrong turn took us to a dead end at the edge of the Slate River. At this point the river was shallow so a few of us dunked our feet into the rushing clear cold water. We stayed for a while to enjoy the
view and then headed back to the trail start.

This should have been it for the riding for this day but I was itching to ride some more. So I convinced Paul to go with me on the Dyke Trail which starts at our campsite and is classified as intermediate. Before we left, JJ and Mark decided to come along. The first part of this trail was a long steep downhill that ended at a creek crossing where a family was camping with their 4 Lab dogs. The next portion were just endless creek crossings with steep downhill and steep uphills. Paul showed us the first flying endo of the trip.

We carried and pushed our bikes through most of this. We knew that whatever we tranversed we would have to do it over on the way back. Around 5:30pm we stopped to see if we should continue as the trek back was mainly uphill and it would get dark soon. JJ suggested we go another 50 feet and see what’s there. Of course, he scouted ahead and said, ‘Guys it’s all downhill from here.’ Cool. Forgetting that it meant it would be all uphill on the way back, we gladly went another 15 minutes. We probably went 1.5 miles downhill and when it came time to turnaround and head back to camp it became a long gruelling uphill hike w/bikes. To enjoy that 30 minute ride we faced a 1 hr hike uphill. When we reached camp, we were exhausted and just waited for dinner.

When we got back we found out that the wind had blown our rock mounted tents down. The guys at camp had put them back up and reinforced the camp with more rocks.

Our second ride was the Upper Loop. After what we faced last night, we decided to do the uphill portion first so we could have a nice downhill at the end of the trip. We decided to begin at the end of the Whetstone Trail which was a 1.5 mile trail with a decent
400 ft. elevation change. Again the uphill portion was grueling but once we hit the Upper Loop junction the trail became ridable, for us. This trail actually runs along the southwestern edge of Mt. Crested Butte. We completed about 1/3 of the trail when we heard on the radio that Rita had hurt her ankle after running into a rock. So we decided to turn-around and cut the ride short and spend time in town. Well, that 1.5 mile 400 ft. climb was worth it as JJ, Mark, Paul and I decided that we would do the 1.5 mile descent without stopping. That was certainly very fun as it called for alot of braking, technical riding and plain luck. The first to lose it was Paul who went off track on a switchback. Next was Mark who went slightly off the trail. JJ finished first as I could not catch him in the downhills. At the end, my arms and forearms were sore from braking and holding on. In town, we walked down Elk St and visited the local stores. We tried to find the Mountain Biking Hall of Fame but found that it had been moved.

Christine went on a Wildflower Hiking Tour which led her up Mt. Crested Butte. While waiting for her to return I went to the Hostel
for a $5 shower. John bought a fishing license and some bait and we went to attempt to catch some trout. Unfortunately, all we got was a nibble and lost bait. I guess the trout don’t like salmon eggs.

July 11th
Our last day of riding. Mark, Ronan and JJ woke up at 6am to go fishing. They didn’t have any better lucking than John. However, One worthly mentionable was Ronan teaching Mark how to cast a rod which ended up with the rod in Lake Irwin. We thank JJ for capturing this memorable event on film! Since we got our ass kicked by the Dyke trail the first day, we decided to ride it again. BUT, this time we would have someone pick us up and the other end of the trail. That way we didnt have to go uphill, or so we thought.

This time, Mike decided to come along with us. The trip was just as we remembered it a few days ago. About 15 minutes into riding, Paul showed us another flying endo, but this time he landed on his knee and we thought we might have to turn back and do that grueling uphill again. We knew we didnt want to do that, so we wrapped up his knee with a bandage and a bungee cord and continued on. The trail was exactly what we thought it was, alot of technical downhills, stream crossings and riding through aspens.It was fun until we reached the Dyke. The Dyke is a massive rock outcropping that was about 200 feet above us. At this point, the terrain became very large boulders. Just like the ride book said, we picked up our bikes and carried them about 100 ft straight uphill. This uphill climb seemed to last forever as at the end of every uphill was the beginning of an even steeper one.

We knew the rewards of downhill ending would come soon. Finally, the downhill came! and it was well worth the wait. I’m guessing it was about 2 miles and 700 ft. descent. At speed with 1 rest stop, it took us about 30 minutes to complete. This trail was a very thin single track with many roots, rocks and drop-offs. The trail was completely covered with foliage making it difficult to see the turns. This is where I had my first fall of the trip. With JJ announcing he was 4 ft behind me as we were travelling pretty fast. I sped up slightly and went off-trail on a sweeping left turn. The trail ended at Horse Ranch Park. This ended the Dyke trail and we had finally completed it! In the parking lot, Rex and John were waiting with our rides home.

Once we got back to camp, we had lunch and decided to go ride the lower Lower Loop again to get to the bank of the Slate River and just relax there for a while. The ride there was like the previous days ride. When we got to the river, I decided to try to ride my bike across it, which I successfully did. However, when walking across it I lost my Nike slipper which floated away in the current. To attempt to find the lost slipper, I floated the other one down the river as JJ followed it in hoped that there was a place where the current stagnates and we’d find both slippers. That did not work. We stayed there relaxing, skipping rocks and watched Rex and Ronan fight with sticks across the river. On the way back we stopped in town to take showers at the Hostel and
headed back to camp.

July 12th
Our LONG ride home. Not much to write about here. Just packed up in the morning and drove home. Hit Denver rush hour.

Got to Chicago 11am. Picked up my dogs at 1pm.

Driving records
Longest continuous duration: Mike 12 hours
Most sleep: Rita 12 hours
Least amount of driving: Me 3 hours (Thanks
Rex) Cow shit smelled: 4 times in Nebraska
Unbearable cow shit smelled: Once in Nebraska
Birds killed: Rex & John 2
Truck tires ran over: Rex 1

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