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Crested Butte 2013

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Crested Butte 2011

This was our 10th Anniversary trip. I can’t believe we’ve been doing a July mountain biking trip for 10 years now. We are still finding new and better trails to ride every year in Crested Butte.

This year our new trails were Doctor’s Park and the 409 and a half trail. Both were excellent downhills.

Here is the video.

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Crested Butte 2010

Need I say more about Crested Butte?  No pictures to post from this trip.  Most of us have gone video while on the trails.

Trails in the video: 401 trail, Deadman Reno Flagman Bear, Strand Hill, Teocalli Ridge, Snodgrass

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Crested Butte 2001 (Revisited)

During our 2009 Breckenridge Mountain Biking trip we were talking about our first trip to Colorado like they were the good ole’ days.  It has been 8 years since we took our first journey out west to the mountain biking mecca.  Our talk wasn’t about how great the trip was, it was about how our trips have changed since 2001.

So I dug out the old photo album… and that was one of the top five things that have changed since the 2001 Crested Butte Mountain Biking Trip.

Photographic Memories – In 2001 I had my Canon EOS 35mm film camera.  I remember taking 6 rolls of film during the trip.  That’s 144 photos!  I had to pay extra to get my photos scanned and put on CD.  We did not have any video recorders.  In 2009, we had 4 Digital SLR’s and 3 helmet cameras.  Our trips slowly changed from photographic memories to massive videos of our biking trip.  We had over 30 gigs of biking video (15 hours) in the 2009 trip.

cams3

Accommodations – In 2001 we set up 2 large tents at Lake Irwin.  We took the tents that our parents had from the early 1980’s. We took showers by warming up a bag of water in the sun and hanging it on a tree.  JJ bathed old school style with a heated pot and a pan.  We also paid for showers at hostels and coin operated showers.  Then came Eddy, Shanda and Kevin who wanted regular accommodations so we began with a small condo.  Then came the luxury homes.  In 8 years we went from ghetto tents to luxury homes.  Check out the ghetto tents!!  Notice the rock tie downs as the plastic yellow stakes don’t penetrate Colorado rock.

ghetto tents

Bikes – I’ll let the pictures do the talking…  Hardtails with 1″ travel on the front.  How did we ride those trails??

bikes

Skillz – We have gotten so much better at both climbing and descending.  Look at that difficult streaming crossing below!  I can’t believe we walked it. LOLskillz

One thing that hasn’t changed in the past 8 years for sure is the amount of fun we have every time we go.

whofarted

(I think someone farted)

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Crested Butte 2006

July 1

For the first time I decide to buy a plane ticket and fly into Colorado. With gas prices around $3.00 a gallon it was actually cheaper to fly than to make the 13 hour drive in my SUV. I flew in on Friday night and stayed with Lisa Friday night. Eddy and Shanda flew into Denver also, they got in at around 1pm on Saturday and rented a Durango. Mike, Mark, JJ and John drove from Chicago and we all met for lunch in Denver at 2:30pm. After lunch it was a quick 4 hour drive to Crested Butte.After many years of camping, we decided to ditch that and go with a luxurious townhome this time. Eddy got a sweet deal on a 4br 4ba townhome rental for the week. We had plenty of room and even a 2 car garage to store all the bikes and the cars!

July 2

Unfortunately the forecast for the entire week was rain. It was 30-40% everyday, but it was forecasted for late afternoons. Our first trail for the trip was the 401. In our past years, the 401 was considered a hard trail for us, even when we parked halfway up and shuttled, but now we actually think that its an easy trail. As usual we woke up late so we didn’t start riding until about 1pm. The think the dark clouds and lightning should have told us that we didn’t have alot of time to finish the trail. At least we knew to bring our cold weather clothes this time.

The 401 uphill has been slightly changed since the last time we rode it. The singletrack climb is not as steep as it was before. When we got to the top the clouds really rolled in. After about 5 minutes into our descent it started to rain and hail hard. Unfortunately, we were at the being stages of the downhill which is an exposed slope on the mountain. There were not many trees for cover. Eddy, Shanda and I stopped on the trail hoping to wait out the hail. The video below is just a quick clip of the hail right as we stopped for a second. The rest of the guys went further down the trail. After about 5 minutes it didn’t look as if the hail was going to subside so we got on our bikes and began to ride downhill again.

Further down the trail we found JJ and John huddled under a big pine tree so we got off our bikes and jumped under it also. As we were under the tree two hikers who we had past at the top were coming down the hill. They did not have any cold weather gear with them. They only had they biking jersey and shorts. Actually these girls were on bikes when we past them at the top. They had ditched their bikes at the top and were running down the trail. The stopped for a little while under the tree too. We gave them our arm warmers and a fleece vest. The rain was definitely not going to stop and we weren’t getting any warmer so we made the decision to ride the trail down to the end.

The trail was unexpectedly easy and very fun when wet. The ground was not soaked as the trail was hard packed. Portions of the trail were like riding downstream in a small river as the water channeled from the slopes down the trail. When we got to the bottom of the trail there were some campers who had started a campfire. They said that they had been warming up hikers and bikers all afternoon. They also had 2 cars with the heater running at full blast.

July 3

40% rain forecasted again today! Our original plan was to wake up early and try to ride Teocalli Ridge before it started raining. Of course, we never wake up early and after getting to the trailhead late we made the decision to ride Strand Hill instead. Strand Hill is a short trail which has a decent climb to the top and then a great downhill. This is a very short trail which some of the guys had done a few years ago so we knew there was little chance of us getting rained on. We rode Strand Hill and got back to the townhome around 1pm. The clouds rolled in and there was a minor rain shower. Around 5pm the sun began to peek out again and we put on our cold weather gear and headed out to ride Snodgrass. Wow, two whole trails in one day. We’re hardcore now.

July 4

Again, more rain forecasted so that means no long trail today. The Upper upper loop trailhead happens to begin about 300 feet from our townhome. The plan today was to ride this trail and then do Strand Hill and then ride back to town and back to the townhome. I think this is a first for us. We’ve never rode from our place and actually connected two trails together! We’re almost like locals… except we only can only connect short wussy trails! After completing Strand Hill for the second day in a row we rode back to town on the main road. Since it was the 4th of July, the town of Crested Butte had a big party on the main street. It was like a very mini Taste of Chicago. We stopped by and had lunch, listened to the music and people watched. In all the years that we’ve been coming here, we’ve never been in town on the 4th. I think that’s because we’re always out on the trails. I think the population in town tripled just for the day.

July 5

Ok rain for 4 days in a row is just too much. We decided to make the 3 hour drive to Fruita. It was unexpectedly cool for mid-summer and there was only a 20% chance of rain. When we got to Fruita, we drove to the last main parking lot at the Bookcliffs section. The first trail we rode was Kessel Run. This is a twisting, turning, slightly downhill trail which is really fun and tiring.

I didn’t have my helmet camera for this trip, but you can see a video from 2003 that includes all the trails I’m about to mention. After completing Kessel Run we proceeded to Chutes & Ladders. I did this trail with Paul in 2003. This trail had alot of steep climbs and steep drops, hence why it’s called Chutes & Ladders. The pictures we got from this trail were great. Once we got out of the hilly portion of the trail, we came to a Y-intersection. The reason I mention this is because the nice sign said “Chutes & Ladders” going right and “Vegetarian Trail” going left. I knew that when I did this trail in 2003 that we went left.But how could this brand new sign be wrong? So we went right and went down Vegetarian which in my opinion was not as good. What’s odd is that according to the sign at the parking lot we did ride Chutes. After getting home I checked my trail book and many internet trail maps and they all said we rode Vegetarian.

Anyway, it was sort of an disappointment based on my memories. It was getting late since we still had to drive back to Crested Butte so we had time for one more trail. I suggested Joe’s Ridge, cause who comes to Fruita and then doesn’t ride Joe’s Ridge. Someone, I won’t say who, was afraid of it because of its drop offs on either side. But worse case is that you roll down the hill doing somersaults! So, some of us rode Joe’s Ridge and connected up with the end of Kessel Run. This completed our Fruita experience for this trip. I know we’ll definitely be back!

July 6

On the final day of riding we decided to try the Green Lake Trail. This is a short trail that goes up to Green Lake. It was suppose to be a tough climb and a fun downhill. We decided to shorted the climb by driving up to a portion of it. We found out that the road leading up there is a private road and that we couldn’t park our car there. So we ended up riding downhill from that point as Eddy drove the car back into town. Turns out that the switchbacks on the lower half of the trail were so tight that we had to get off and walk every one. Not a fun downhill. Since we were in town, we decided to ride Lower Loop as an easy relaxing cap for our trip.

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Crested Butte 2005

July 1

The fifth annual Crested Butte Trip was the most complicated trip to plan so far. With eight people coming from three different states and some driving and some flying, timing and coordination was the key.

From LA, Eddy & Shanda make the 5 hour drive to Phoenix. In Phoenix, we take my 4Runner and gear and begin our journey. Unfortunately, a late Friday meeting for Eddy led us to a late start. We left Phoenix at 12am and drove north towards Flagstaff. On the way we could see the Northern Arizona brush fires all along I-17. At 3am, we arrived at Winslow, AZ and stay at a hotel.

From Chicago, Mike, Rex, John and Mark head west towards Colorado. This year the Chicago crew had a series of mishaps on their drive to and from Colorado. Within a few hours of leaving Chicago they were all fast asleep! The 4Runner decided that it’d like to drive on the shoulder and hit a mile marker. That led to a nice dent on the side of Mark’s 4Runner and bent rear rim on Rex’s bike.

July 2

Somewhere in Nebraska, Mark’s 4Runner decided that it didn’t want to go anymore. Apparently, the fuel gauge decided to fail and stay at 1/4 tank full so after hours of driving, the 4Runner ran out of gas. Luckily, the next exit was only one mile away. They pushed the car about 1/2 mile and then sent John to the gas station to get a can and some gas. Meanwhile, in Arizona, we were waking up and beginning our drive to Colorado. At the same time, Kevin was hopping on a plane from Chicago to Denver, where the Chicago crew would pick him up at around 4pm. Around 5pm, we arrived in Ouray, Colorado. Called, Switzerland of America, I had wanted to stop by here ever since I passed by it last year. We had dinner, took some pictures and headed for Crested Butte. In the meantime, the Chicago crew had picked up Kevin and were headed towards Crested Butte also. At about 8pm we all arrived in Gunnison at the same time and caravaned to CB. We got to the condo around 9pm in Mt. Crested Butte and had dinner. No camping tonight, as all the campsites were booked for July 4th weekend.

Town of Ouray

July 3

Sunday morning we ventured into town. We were suppose to meet a realtor to see some real estate in CB, CB south and Mt. CB. Our realtor was a no show, so we just walked into another realtor office. Prices in CB were really high, there were a couple new construction condos, condo conversions and lots available. After coming here for five straight years, we should have bought a property the first year we got here. There was a lottery for the Mountaineer condos, which started at $310,000 for a 445 square foot studio! Another possibility was buying a lot in CB south for around $225,000 and building a home on it. The Grand Lodge had condo conversions priced from $139,000 to $389,000. Those looked promising, but as a condotel, we weren’t sure what the cashflow would be like.

View from the condo

After lunch, we got ready for our first ride. It was Snodgrass, which is a relatively short ride from the condo. The ride was a nice acclimatization ride for us sea level people. Near the end of the ride, the clouds came and it began to rain and hail briefly. Some of us learned our lesson about rain and hail from 2002 so we immediately stopped and put on our arm and leg warmers and rain jackets. Those who weren’t present during 2002 continued to ride in the ride for a while without putting on more clothing and someone even didn’t bring a rain jacket!

Our group got split in the rush to get back to the condo. I was last with John and Eddy coming down the road, and unfortunately I had the keys to the condo! I believe it was Mike, Rex, Mark and Kevin who got to the condo first and had to wait outside. Eddy went ahead to catch up to Shanda and me and John were last. I’m not sure how long they waited in the rain until I got there, but Eddy had gone to the Resort Quest office to get another key to the condo by the time I got there.

July 4

This year our favorite trails were closed due to summer coming late. There was no 401, Dyke, 403 or even Teocalli. So we looked for some alternative trails and Hartman Rocks was suggested as a nice, but different type of riding. Hartman Rocks is located in Gunnison, CO which is a 30 minute drive from CB. The trails here were more like Moab and Fruita, but not as hot in summer.

As you can see, Hartman is alot different than the green mountains of Crested Butte. We didn’t have a good map of the trails so we just rode around and took trails as we came to them. After a few hours of riding we were sort of lost. Luckily, Mark had taken a picture of the trail map in the parking lot so we used the LCD screen on his camera as a map most of the way.

July 5

Today we decided to ride Monarch Crest. Some of us rode this trail last year but we never finished the complete trail. This time we were going to finish the whole trail, even if it was 25 miles. We reached the parking lot at 9:30 and dropped off the bikes and gear. Eddy and I took the 4runners to Salida to park them at our destination. We took the shuttle bus back to the parking lot. Monarch was certainly more enjoyable this time, riding in the summer, the warmth was better than snow.

In the early part of the trail, we came to a few large patches of snow. It was a very interesting descent, sliding down part of it. We took our time riding this trail which changed from above the tree line to forest to creek crossings. We had a couple flat tires, we stopped for lunch and before we knew it, it was 5:30pm and we came to a sign. It said we had 9 miles to go if we took the trail, or we could ride the road back to where our cars were parked. We figured we could easily do the 9 miles before it became dark since it should be mostly downhill. Of course, the trail wasn’t mostly downhill, it was a climb then a downhill then a climb.

At about 7pm the skies got dark and it got really windy. We got worried because we didn’t want to be on the mountain in the rain and the sun was beginning to set. Somehow, we got split into two groups, me, Kevin, Mike and Mark were first. Eddy, Shanda, Rex and John were behind us a few minutes. Some of our talkabouts were running low on batteries, we were low on water and I had the only flashlight.

This had the makings of a really bad night. Our main concern was just getting to the road before dark. We could not navigate the trails at night on bikes but we could walk them if we had to using the flashlight. Mike and I were going to go ahead and try to get to the car before dark, the plan was to get the car (which had another flashlight) and come back up the trail if we had to. So we lightened our packs, gave Mark the food and flashlight and headed off. Mark was going to wait for the second group to catch up. Fortunately, they were only 10 minutes behind.

Me and Mike came to a fork in the trail and according to my odometer we had gone 7 miles. That meant we had 2 to go! But the sign at the fork said 3 more miles! We broke out our trail book and it said that after the sign was a lung busting climb! Damn the sign, 1 mile is alot when you’re racing against the sun. Ok time to reset the odometer and start pedalling again. Ok, that book officially sucks, there was no lung busting climb, it was downhill. When we came to a hill, it wasn’t that bad, I don’t know who wrote that book but it was way off on this trail. Hmm, at the 3 mile point I still didn’t see any road, those signs are really off. At 8pm we got to the end of the trail. I check the odometer and we had gone another 4.5 miles! Mike, Kevin and I were finally at the road. I had the keys to my 4runner, but Mark had the keys to the other one.

At this point we were on a major road but still 5 miles from the cars. The good thing is that it was all downhill to the car so I took the road down, actually passing some cars on the road at 40 mph. I grabbed the car and came back to the trailhead. By that time Eddy, Shanda and Mark had reached the road. It was 8:30pm and pretty dark (look at the pics!). So this was our longest ever ride, 10 hours and 31 miles (36 if you include the downhill road ride). So the reward for a long ride? Pizza Hut of course!

July 6

After our long ride, we decided to rest on the next day. So on our rest day we actually set up camp at Lake Irwin cause we had already paid for and reserved a campsite. We also spent some time at a couple realtor offices looking at some potential home building land in CB South and around town. The properties in this small town have been appreciating so fast. In fact, one subdivision had a price increase of $50,000 on lots over the July 4th holiday weekend. The total amount of time we spend there was probably 12 hours. We actually took time and did some fishing and camping. Unfortunately, the one night we decided to sleep in the tents was really cold and Rex forgot his sleeping bag in the back of my SUV which Eddy had taken back to the condo. So Rex put on some warm clothes and slept in Mark’s SUV.  Later in the morning after a cold cold night he found out that one of Mark’s windows was slightly open all night.

July 7

Time for some easy downhill riding on Mt. Crested Butte. We bought some lift tickets to take us up the mountain. There were plenty of trails to choose from. Trails were marked like ski trails, beginner green circle, medium blue square and difficult black diamond. After a few hours of downhilling we went to the lower loop trails for a leisure ride.

July 8

So ends our 2005 CB trip with a quick breakfast and we parted to drive our separate ways home. The Chicago crew decided to go west towards Lake Irwin and then up towards I-70. However, I-70 was closed for at least an hour and they had to get to the Denver airport to drop Kevin off. So looking at the map they chose to take some local roads instead of waiting. As you can see from the pictures below, the local roads weren’t the best choice. Kevin missed his flight but did catch a later one on standby.

Lots of pictures here (some repeats from above)

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Crested Butte 2004

September 3rd
Could it be? More biking trips this year? And to all our favorite places. Moab, Fruita, Sun Valley and now, back to Crested Butte again! Now we’re getting even more complicated in the trip planning, in the past it was one start, one destination and one return point. But now, we have people coming from all parts of the country. The trip was possible because I’m now living in Phoenix, AZ and my SUV can hold alot of bikes. Nine, if I get that four bike hitch rack. So here is the plan, I go to California and pick up Eddy and Shanda’s bikes and bring them back to Phoenix. Eddy and Shanda fly to Denver from California on Friday night. Mike and Kevin fly to Denver from Chicago. They would rent a car and drive to Salida, CO on Friday night. I drive from Phoenix to Salida, CO on Friday morning meeting them there at 11pm. For the most part, this part of the trip went as planned. I got to the hotel at 11pm, the Denver riders arrived at 12am.

September 4th
Leaving Salida at 10am, we arrive in Crested Butte at 11:30am. We try to get our rental bikes from the Alpineer, but although we had reservations, they had already rented out our reserved bikes. Fortunately, they had other models that will be ready in an hour. So we leave and try to check in early into our condo. No luck there either so it’s off to town where they have a little street festival. We sit down for lunch and it starts to rain and rain alot. Did I mention it’s only 45 degrees outside? At 2pm we pick up our bikes and check into the condo. The forecast isn’t good, it’s suppose to rain all night. So there goes day one of riding.

September 5th
7am, we wake up and there’s snow on the roofs of the cars. It’s 37 degrees outside and we’re at 8,800 feet. Our plan was to ride Monarch Crest which is at 11,000+ feet. So we get on all our winter gear, the layers, arm & leg warmers, fleece, windbreakers and head up to Monarch Crest. There were at least twenty other bikers in the lot ready to ride. We shuttled one SUV to the end of the ride in Poncha Springs and left the other at the start.

The trail starts with a short climb on doubletrack, then there is a sign in book, a sign and a narrow singletrack signalling the beginning or the Monarch Crest Trail. This trail goes along the Continental Divide and climbs as high as 12,000 feet. The trees are all covered with snow and the ground with frost. This is our first ride in this type of weather. We can see the clouds as they are so low that we’ll eventually be riding in them. At the top all we saw was a big cloud!

We think that due to the weather, we didn’t get the great great views of the mountains. But nevertheless, the views were great, but different that what we expected. The trail was about 10 miles and consisted of mainly easy climbing and a short downhill on single track. The last two miles was downhill doubletrack with alot of jumps. We ended at the Marshall Pass and decided which way to get back to our car at Poncha Springs. We took the easy way back, 8 miles on a dirt road going downhill and then 5 miles by highway. The total ride was 30 miles.

More helmet camera video captures. Monarch Crest Trail

September 6th
Back to the 401 trail again. This will be the third time I’ve ridden it and the third time I’ve videotaped it. How can you go wrong riding this trail? So far, it’s the best trail I’ve ever ridden. We check out of the condo (It’s a short trip) and head for Gothic. We park the rented 4runner at the bottom of the trail and take my 4runner to the top. Today, it’s sunny and about 55 degrees. Certainly a huge change from yesterday. This is the latest in the year I’ve ridden this trail and the for the first time, there was no snow blocking the road. I guess we could have drove all the way to the trailhead. Each year, the trail seems to get shorter. The climb didn’t take long at all and soon we were at the top taking pictures and ready for the downhill. The trail was slightly modified at the top this time. Instead of a long straight climb, there were a series of switchbacks making the climb longer, but less steep.

So here are allot more pictures of the 401 trail.  Almost any picture you take on this trail will look good.  I made sure I got alot of video capture pictures because I noticed that in the past years we never had any pictures of the downhill. That’s because we usually just blast through it without stopping. This picture is my favorite.

More helmet camera video captures of 401 trail

One slight problem in this ride though. When we finished the trail, *someone* left the keys for our shuttle ride in the car at the top of the 401, so instead of driving back to the top to get our car, *someone* had to ride to the top and drive the car back. After that little mishap we headed back to town, did a little shopping, ate at Teocalli Tamale and left Crested Butte.

I headed west towards Durango while the others headed to Denver. The drive west on US-50 to Montrose, CO was beautiful. However, going through Ouray towards Silverton was a bit scary. The scenic drive on US-550 is not so scenic at night with no shoulders or guardrails. I got to Durango at about 9:30pm and the others got to Denver at 11pm.

September 7th
I left Durango at 9am and made it back to Phoenix by 4pm for my softball game. The others caught their early planes and were back home or back to work by noon.

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Crested Butte 2003

cb2003thumb

July 4th
This year we had seven people coming on the trip. A couple of late decisions led to us searching for campsites to reserve on the 4th of July and the day after. After going through a dozen campsites on ReserveUSA.com we finally came across two that had space available.

The third annual trip to Crested Butte began later than usual. At 1:30am, we had the Subaru and the 4Runner packed with 2 tents, 7 bikes and the rest of the gear. The main difference this year was that we had top carriers and hitched bike racks so we had alot of space in the trucks for stuff. Unfortunately, we didn’t know that until we finished packing so we didn’t bring our chairs, fishing poles and extras.

At 7pm we arrived at our first campsite, Painted Rocks near Woodland Park, Colorado. After setting up camp we had our first camping dinner, Pizza Hut. The campsite was nothing spectacular, its main landmark were the large red rocks jutting from the ground, hence the painted rocks name.


July 5th
The next morning it was off to Monarch Park campground, This campground was just a stop before our final destination. Home of the famous Monarch Crest trail, this was the only campground with spots available this night on our route. We did not ride this trail because we didn’t want to start the trip on a 30 mile one way trail. This year there wasn’t a fire ban so we were able to build campfires which of course led to grilled everything. Our first real camp dinner consisted of steaks marinaded in mesquite. After the steaks we had some apples which we grilled also with various flavors. Ask Mark about the mesquite green apples.

This year we got more storage on top.

July 6th
The next morning we headed to our final destination, Lost Lake campground, about 18 miles west of Crested Butte. This campground didn’t accept reservations so we were trying to arrive early to get a site.

Luckily, there were two sites available when we got there. This campground was much better than Lake Irwin. The only drawback was that it was10 miles west of Irwin and it was 10 miles of winding dirt road. This site had bike trails leading around the lake and also a waterfall on the other side.

The camp host also warned us of a bear and cub that had been seen across the lake in the early morning. We went to town to shower, get groceries and eat at Cucinas. The campground at night was incredible, we had a ¾ moon that lit up the lake and mountains and the temperature was warm enough to sleep without a sleeping bag. I never thought that there would be a night where I couldn’t fall asleep because the moon was too bright.

July 7th
Finally, it was time to ride! The first trail of the year would be the Dyke Trail. We figured this would be a good break in trail as most of us had already ridden this a few times. We had our first mechanical problem here. JJ’s chain broke during a short uphill. We had 3 chain tools but no spare chains so we had to do a temp. fix. This was the first time we all used a chain tool. The trails this year were very dry, kicking up alot of dust as we flew through it.

Also on this trail, I unveiled the new helmet cam here. This helmet cam consisted of a Canon Elura 50 and an X-Jaket shell bolted to a new helmet. The video from this should be much better as it uses the camcorder lens (plus a wide angle adapter) and has digital image stabilization. Click on the video links to see the video.

During our nighttime dinner we had a mini adventure. One of our neighboring camps could not find their 6 year old boy. It was 9:00pm and getting dark and they were frantically searching the woods yelling his name. We split up into teams of two with radios and flashlights and began walking through the trails in the woods. Let me just say that nighttime hiking with flashlights is pretty scary. Of course, we’re pretty deep into the woods and Mark says to me, “Hey, remember about the bear and the cub.” They eventually found the boy. He had heard everyone yelling his name and got scared. So he snuck back into camp and hid in their tent.

July 8th

For the second ride, it was the 401 trail again. Again, it started with a long climb on the road to the trailhead and then a long climb to the top. On the road we had our second chain break. This time it was on Paul’s bike. Then at the very top, we had our third chain break, on my bike. My chain broke in two places but luckily, we were at the top of the trail so we temporarily fixed it and continued onto the downhill. We got very good at fixing chains. The weather was great for the 401. There was not a cloud in site, it was sunny and about 75 degrees. Since we were sick of washing dishes, we decided that the rest of the vacation, we would eat food that would minimize washing. So that meant hotdogs and hamburgers on paper plates, grilled over the campfire. At the top, we did tried our first ‘Matrix style’ photos in an attempt to show everyone else what the scenery was like.

July 9th
We had originally planned to do Teocalli Ridge today, but some wanted an easier trail to relax and rest. Initially, me and JJ were going to ride Teocalli ourselves, but the long road to the trailhead and the fact that we forgot to bring a bike pump dashed our plans. So we returned to Strand Hill where everyone else was planning to ride. Unfortunately, 100 feet into the ride, my chain broke again. This time we saw that my derailleur hanger was bent and cracked so it was the end of riding for my bike. The rest of the guys rode Strand Hill, while me and Mark headed back into town to shower and eat. Strand Hill was described to me as a mini 401 trail. Again, a long climb, but wellworth it for the downhill.

July 10th
We were thinking about riding Deer Creek today, but the drive to the trailhead on a dusty 4WD road at 5mph did not sound appealing. We stopped in at the Alpineer to ask if the 403 trail was open, and it was! Driving to the trailhead of the 403 was an adventure in itself. It was a long upward climb avoided rutted, holes and other SUVs. The top of the trailhead was almost 11,000ft. John and Rex weren’t riding so they would pick us up at the bottom of the trail. According to the maps, the 403 should have been all downhill from here, but it turned out to be uphill until about 11,400ft. At this point, we had a great view of the mountains. We rested, took some pictures and then went onward to the downhill. This trail wasn’t as long as the 401, and it mostly went through the trees, but it was a very fun trail to ride. It wasn’t too steep or too technical, it felt just about right.

July 11th

Well it was time to pack up the tents and leave for home. This trip seemed pretty long. Maybe it was the seven straight nights of camping, but we were ready to head home. But first, we had to stop and eat at the chinese restaurant in Eagle, CO. We have stopped here on the way back the last two times, and they actually remembered us! On Saturday morning we arrived home and only another 355 days until we go back!

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Crested Butte 2002


July 3rd

This annual trip turned out to be a little different than last year. By the morning of the 3rd, the crew dwindled down to 4. Since John was in Vegas, he would fly to Denver and we would pick him up from there. This left us with 3 drivers and 1 SUV to get us to Colorado. The first mishap was when Mark forgot to put the pin in the bike hitch rack. After driving a few minutes, he noticed his bike wasn’t there and later found it dragging on the ground.

Luckily, at the time, his bike was the only one on the rack. The only damage was a bent rear wheel. Once we got the bikes on the rack and made sure the pin was in, it was off to Colorado. We left at 10pm with Mike driving the first leg.

July 4th

By 2am we were in Iowa and I took over the piloting from 2am to 4:30pm. It was during this time, I told Mark that his truck can only go up to 100mph on downhills due to the drag imposed by the big green monster on the roof. I think we covered 200 miles during that time, but only got 12 mpg. Mark took over the driving from 4:30-6:00. We arrived at Mountain Park campground around 2pm. At this time we found out that there was a statewide fireban in Colorado. Oh well, looks like no campfires for the entire trip. We also found out that we had electricity at our campsite! The bathroom was also very very clean. In fact, this was the neatest campsite I’ve ever been to. We set up our tent and then it started raining, so we took a 3 hour nap in the afternoon. At 6pm, it was time to drive to Denver to pick up John from the airport. Denver was about 1.5 hours away. The trip was uneventful and ended up with us eating at Chili’s around 11pm in Fort Collins. We reached our campsite at 12am.

July 5th

It was a quick 2 hour drive to Rocky Mountain National Park. Since I had originally planned for a group of 10, I had reserved a small group campsite suitable for 15. Well, guess what, we had so much room at this campsite! The only thing about camping at RMNP, is the threat of bears and mountain lions. We couldn’t leave out any food at anytime. You couldn’t even wash dishes or brush your teeth without dumping the water into a drain. There was a specified wash sink that actually flushed and a bunch of steel chests to store your food. We actually didn’t see any bears. We had the luxury of camping near a group a people who must have been on some religious retreat, we just called them, the cult. We had to endure bugles, trumpets, guitars and singing in circles. However, to help drown out the sound we had Paul Oakenfold and Mark’s truck speakers (until the ranger told us to turn it down).

July 6th

In the morning we took the drive throught RMNP to see the sights. With our handy Etrex GPS we were able to see what altitude we were at. I think our highest elevation was 12,100 ft. We also passed the Continental Divide and the headwater of the Colorado River. Then it was the long drive to Rifle, CO. Along the way, we stopped off at a roadside store to purchase some jerky and one of those small bears carved out of wood. (Note: according to the guy selling me the bear, he had a recording deal and was headed to Cali, I had him sign the bear just in case! So be on the lookout for Aslan!).

While looking at the map of Colorado and the location of Rifle, we noticed it was pretty close to the Utah border. A quick calculation revealed that we were 180 miles from Moab, so we decide what the fuck, let’s go. We don’t need to see the stinkin waterfalls in Rifle. Click here to go to the Moab 2002 webpage.

July 7th

Finally after 4 days, we arrive again at Crested Butte. This time without reservations we were worried about finding a campsite at Lake Irwin. But, we quickly found out that with the fire ban, camping just isn’t very popular in Colorado right now. Only about half the campsite was full, so we had our pick.

July 8th

Our first ride would be the Dyke Trail. At about 10am, we headed to the trailhead. The ride was just as I remembered it. The fast downhill portion which quickly toppled a few riders in the first 200 feet. I guess the terrain is alot different than Slickrock. After 30 minutes of riding we came to the infamous log and branch of 2001, where Paul did his flying endo. We stopped to take pictures and recreate the scene. All the climbs and pushbikes were all worth to arrive at the promise land of continuous downhill. Judging from last year, it took us 20 minutes to complete this. This year, with my helmet camera and GPS, I would be able to map it to find out exactly how long it is. The downhill was a little more technical than I remembered it. We did stop a brief moment after a crash, but we all arrived unscathed. By my calculations, It took us 9 minutes and was 1.3 miles. I guess that means we averaged 8.7 miles an hour.. We must have ridden very slow last year!

Going back to camp, we decided to take the trail instead of the road. Most trail maps show the Dyke trail as a 21 mile loop. So by my calculations, the Dyke trail was only 6 miles, so the road back must be 15 miles. (We later found out it is only 8 miles). While riding back uphill, the skys turned gray and it began to rain and hail. No problem since we all had raingear, we just put it on and waited for it to pass. We eventually found out that it wasn’t a passing storm and we couldn’t wait it out. The trail became muddy and the stream crossing were worse.

During the voyage back, one of our riders (I won’t say who) became cold and couldn’t make it. We think he had hypothermia and went into shock. At this time we sat under a large tree and covered him with our rain ponchos and sent someone to get help. About an hour later a doctor came running down the trail and he brought dry warm clothes and helped the person walk the rest of the trail.

Me and the others carried his stuff and bike back and to our suprise as we crested the hill to the trailhead we saw about 15 people and 5 vehicles there with our friend talking to the EMTs. We made it into the Crested Butte News. So we ended up back at camp around 8:00pm. It was a long day so we decided to go to town and shower and get dinner. Unfortunately, after the shower all restaurants were closed, it was around 11pm. On the way back we picked up two people who’s jeep was wasn’t working and drove them to a yurt beyond Irwin Lodge. Mark’s truck go a real off-road workout as the road was pretty much full of holes and off camber. At midnight we finally got back to camp and we were too tired to make dinner so we skipped it.

July 9th

Well this was suppose to be a scheduled ride day to Snodgrass or 403 but because of the ordeal from yesterday we decided to take a rest day.

We went to town and found our soon to be favorite lunch spot – Cucina’s. This is a deli style restaurant that caters to people biking and hiking. Most of the stuff they sell can be packed in a backpack and brought on a day trip. The macaroni and cheese was our favorite, topped off with Creme Brulee’ (What a great post ride meal!). One interesting note was the owner asked Mike if one of us was the guy who had hypothermia yesterday. News sure travels in a small town!

After lunch we decided to scope out our future trails. We drove to Mt. Crested Butte pass the Snodgrass trailhead and to Gothic. We were going to the Trail 401 beginning but found out the road was impassable due to the annual block of snow that is usually melted by now. So we parked and took a walk to Emerald Lake.

We never did see the beginning of the trailhead, we turned around because the weather began to look bad. On the way back to the end of 401 we got to do some more off-roading in Mark’s truck. Then it was off to an afternoon matinee of MIB II.
July 10th

Time to get on our bikes again. Today it’s the Snodgrass trail, which is considered an easy ride. We drove to past Mt. Crested Butte and parked at the eastern trailhead. This trail is on private property and is closed for grazing during the Spring and Fall. The beginning of the trail is a long uphill climb. Once near the top you have two choices, to either go all the way to the top of Snodgrass Mountain or to ride down the west side of it. We chose to ride west. This trail is not very technical and offers smooth riding down the west side. Once at the end of the trail you take the dirt road back to Mt. Crested Butte town. This is a nice long downhill where you relax before the climb through town on the main road. This whole loop took us just under two hours so we were done by noon.  It was Cucina time again for lunch and then back to the threater for a matinee of Minority Report.

July 11th

Today was our final ride for the trip and we decided to take the ‘famous’ 401 trail. We drove to the same place as the day before and parked the truck. We walked the bikes over the snowpatch and to the beginning of the 401. From there on, it was an uphill ride to the top which was over 11,000 ft. Eventually we reached the beginning of the downhill. The uphill trek took us 1 hour and 40 minutes. The downhill was definitely worth it. The ride has everything, long cross country in the wildflowers, switchbacks, rocky sections, wooded areas and a short creek crossing at the end. This is the best trail I have ever ridden. Click here to see a 3-D Google Earth view of the 401 trail. We were at the mid-point of the 401, we heard the rest of the trail wasn’t that great but three of us would ride it while one went back to get the truck. Mike rode back uphill to get the truck, and we began the rest of the trail. By the time Mike brought the truck back to us, we were only halfway through the second half so we cut it short and came back to the road at the next branch.

Once back in town, it was back to Cucinas for lunch and back to camp (We ran out of movies to go watch). Back at camp we learned that part of the site would be closed due to sick trees in the area. We would have to move camp to another site, so we decided to pack up and leave.

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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.

July10th
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.

July13th
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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