Biking is key to valley’s karma, including world’s oldest mountain bike festival
Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado (May 16, 2012) – The year 2012 promises to be one of the most exciting seasons of biking that Gunnison County has ever witnessed. Not only has the Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley again been selected for a stage finish and a stage start for the second annual USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Crested Butte is a stop on the Leadville 100 Qualifying Series for the second year in a row and Gunnison is the start for Ride the Rockies. Crested Butte and Gunnison have been on the Ride the Rockies circuit 13 times since 1987.
That’s only the tip of the iceberg. There are mountain bike races and rides galore, the 32nd annual Crested Butte Bike Week, downhill and cross-country racing, a 24-hour cruiser bike tour, and the 36th annual Pearl Pass Mountain Bike Tour from Crested Butte to Aspen. Biking is a way of life here, whether it’s on skinny tires, fat tires or a bike with one gear. Since the 1970s, when locals started retrofitting old Schwinn paperboy bikes with multiple gears, Crested Butte has helped write the history of mountain biking and is now home to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame.
2012 Biking Events
May 17, Aug. 30, Sept. 13, 29 : Growler Mountain Bike Series, Gunnison
May 26: Half-Growler Mountain Bike Race (32 miles), Hartman Rocks, Gunnison
May 26 : Alison Gannett’s Keen Rippin Chix Mountain Bike Camp, Hartman Rocks, Gunnison
May 27: Full-Growler Mountain Bike Race (64 miles), Hartman Rocks, Gunnison
May 27: Growler Gran Fondo, Gunnison to Mt. Crested Butte and back
June 2: National Trails Day – Work on Trails in Gunnison & Crested Butte Areas
June 9 – 10: Ride the Rockies, Gunnison (ride starts on June 10)
June 21 – 24: 32nd Annual Crested Butte Bike Week, Crested Butte & Mt. Crested Butte
Aug. 18 – 19: 10th Annual 24 Hours in the Sage (Bike Race), Hartman Rocks, Gunnison
Aug. 21: Stage 2 Finish USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Montrose to Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte
Aug. 22: Stage 3 Start USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Gunnison to Aspen
Sept. 2: West Elk Bicycle Classic, Gunnison/Montrose/Delta Counties
Sept. 8 – 9: 36th Annual Pearl Pass Mountain Bike Tour, Crested Butte to Aspen
Sept. 15: Alpine Odyssey 100 (Leadville 100 Qualifier for 2013), Crested Butte
Growler Mountain Bike Series, Gunnison, April, May, August & September
The seventh annual Growler Mountain Bike Series takes place on five Thursday evenings, (April 19, May 3 and 17, Aug. 30, and Sept. 13) and two Saturdays (April 14 and Sept. 29), primarily at Hartman
Rocks Multi-Use Recreation Area in Gunnison. This classic mountain bike race/fun ride series is for all ages and abilities with men’s and women’s divisions in three categories: short course, long course sport and long course expert. There also are races for little kids who race for free. The cost for adults and older youth is $15 per race (or $10 for Gunnison Trails members) with season pass options that include membership available. Registration begins at 4:30 p.m. followed by a race start at 5:30 p.m. For information, visit www.gunnisontrails.com. Proceeds benefit Gunnison Trails.
Alison Gannett’s Keen Rippin Chix Mountain Bike Camp, Gunnison, May 26
Join Alison Gannett, mountain biking champion and world champion big mountain skier, and her team of talented instructors for a women’s singletrack mountain biking skills camp at Hartman Rocks on May 26 from 1 – 4 p.m. This noncompetitive camp will focus on improving skills and building confidence with all abilities welcome. The cost is $50. Sign up at www.alisongannett.com or call (970) 349-0800 for more information.
Half-Growler & Full-Growler, Gunnison, May 26 & 27
After consistently selling out immediately, the Original Growler is now being held over two days, May 26 and 27, to open up the popular mountain bike race to more riders without increasing numbers on the course. The 32-mile Half-Growler (one lap) will officially kick off the local bike racing season on Saturday at 9 a.m., followed by the 64-mile Full-Growler (two laps, climbing 4,000 vertical feet on each) on Sunday at 7 a.m. Each race is capped at 350 riders and starts and finishes in downtown Gunnison at IOOF Park. Registration is available at www.BikeReg.com with an entry fee of $75 for the Half-Growler and $95 for the Full-Growler. The races are the primary fundraiser for Gunnison Trails, www.gunnisontrails.com.
Growler Gran Fondo, Gunnison to Mt. Crested Butte, May 28
The second annual Growler Gran Fondo ride from Gunnison to Crested Butte and back will begin on May 27 at 7:30 a.m. This fund-raising ride for Gunnison Country Partners follows Highway 135 North to the four-way stop in Crested Butte. At that point, riders have an option to continue up the road past Mt. Crested Butte and to the top of Prospect. This section will be the lone timed section and will be timed one way only (uphill). At that point the riders will reverse direction and return back to Gunnison the same way. The total route distance is approximately 64 miles and has 2,200 feet of climbing. There will be awards for the top three men and women for the timed section. The first 50 people to register will get a special goodie bag provided by the USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Registration is available at www.bikereg.com and costs $64 before May 1 and $80 after the early-bird deadline. For more information contact Mike Tofel at (970) 275-4138 and visit www.gunnisonmentors.com.
Ride the Rockies, Gunnison, June 9 – 10
Gunnison is the starting point for the 27th annual Ride the Rockies, a bicycle tour organized by The Denver Post that will take 2,000 cyclists on a 422-mile trek through Colorado from June 10 – 15. On June 9, cyclists will gather in Gunnison and launch on June 10 to begin tackling 24,937 feet of vertical gain and five mountain passes while pedaling to the other host towns of Hotchkiss, Carbondale, Leadville, Granby and Estes Park before finishing in Fort Collins. Everyone is invited to the Ride the Rockies Celebration at IOOF Park in downtown Gunnison on June 9. There will be food, music, a beer garden and a block full of booths for everyone to explore from 2 – 8 p.m. Visitwww.ridetherockies.com.
32nd Annual Crested Butte Bike Week, Mt. Crested Butte & Crested Butte, June 21 – 24
Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte are the proud hosts of the world’s oldest mountain bike festival, previously known as Fat Tire Bike Week. There are many options for all levels of riders throughout the long weekend.
- Crested Butte Bike Week launches with a kickoff party at the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum/Mountain Bike Hall of Fame on June 21.
- The infamous Chainless World Championships on June 22 is always a thrilling scene for riders and spectators followed by the Fat Tire 40 mountain bike race on June 23.
- Those who prefer cross-country or downhill racing can catch some action at the Mountain States Cup Wildflower Rush races on Crested Butte Mountain Resort trails on June 23 – 24.
- If a one-speed cruiser is more your style, join in the fun and fund-raising for the Adaptive Sports Center’s annual Bridges of the Butte townie tour that runs from 3 p.m. on June 23 to 3 p.m. on June 24, with many riding as teams and in costume.
- Alison Gannett’s Keen Rippin Chix Bike Camps will be offered on June 21, 22 and 23.
- Live music is planned for June 22 and possibly June 23, with bands to be announced in the near future.
10th Annual 24 Hours in the Sage, Gunnison, August 18 – 19
Gunnison’s Hartman Rocks Multi-Use Recreation Area is the backdrop for a 24-hour relay bike race where individual entrants and teams ride a 13-mile loop continuously from noon Saturday, Aug. 18 to noon Sunday, Aug. 19. The race starts and finishes at the nearby Gunnison KOA Kampground, and the person/team in each category with the most laps wins. A 12-hour race that starts at noon on Aug. 18 and finishes and finishes at midnight also is offered. Additional highlights for the weekend include live entertainment, World Townie Championships (same format) and more. There is plenty of fun for the whole family with a playground, paddleboats and more at KOA. To register and for more information, contact Gunnison KOA at (970) 641-1358 or visit www.24hoursinthesage.com.
USA Pro Cycling Challenge, Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte & Gunnison, Aug. 21 & 22
After more than 20 years, world-class professional cycling returned to Colorado last summer with the first USA Pro Cycling Challenge. Racers will again experience breathless altitudes and 680 mountain miles for seven straight days (Aug. 20 – 26), with Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte being the stage two finish on Aug. 21 and Gunnison the stage three start on Aug. 22. Watch the world’s best professional cyclists from several of the most-respected teams put to route to the test. For the full route and more information, visit www.usaprocyclingchallenge.com. Information specifically about the Gunnison-Crested Butte Valley portions of the race and local activities can be found atwww.upccinfo.com, www.facebook.com/GunnisonQPC and www.facebook.com/CBUPCC.
West Elk Bicycle Classic, Gunnison/Montrose/Delta Counties, Sept. 2
Western State College of Colorado’s cycling team is sponsoring a new bicycle gran fondo, the West Elk Bicycle Classic, on Sept. 2 with two length options. The 130-mile ride climbs nearly 10,000 feet and starts in Gunnison at 7 a.m. before heading to the Blue Mesa Dam, Crawford, Paonia and Kebler
Pass before finishing in downtown Crested Butte with a celebration and food at Donita’s Cantina. The 100-mile version starts three miles past the dam at 7:30 a.m. and also skirts the north rim of the Black Canyon to Crawford and beyond on a route filled with amazing scenery. For details and registration costs, including a couple of early-bird options, visit www.western.edu/westelkbicycleclassic.
36th Annual Pearl Pass Mountain Bike Tour, Crested Butte to Aspen, Sept. 8 – 9
This oldest mountain bike event in the world runs from Crested Butte to Aspen via Pearl Pass. In 1976, the first group of 15 or 20 cyclists from the Butte rode one-speed town bikes over the 12,705-foot Pearl Pass to Aspen in response to a group of Aspenites riding their motorcycles over the same route and parking them in downtown Crested Butte. The Crested Butte rowdies pulled up in downtown Aspen in front of the historic Hotel Jerome. By the early 1980s, the expert ride had grown and become a weeklong event known as Fat Tire Bike Week. Today, Crested Butte Bike Week is held in June and the Pearl Pass Mountain Bike Tour is in September to celebrate Crested Butte as one of the birthplaces of mountain biking. For information, call (970) 349-6817 or visitwww.mtnbikehalloffame.com.
Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey – Leadville 100 Qualifying Race, Cr. Butte & Mt. CB, Sept. 15
The Leadville Qualifying Series for the grueling Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race (LT100) once again includes the Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey in 2012, one of six in the series for the year but a qualifier for 2013. Each race provides 70 to 100 qualifying slots for the LT100 and five of the six will be approximately 100 kilometers. On Sept. 15, Crested Butte Alpine Odyssey starts and finishes at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and will test riders’ climbing skills, with two climbs in excess of 2,000 feet up Mt. Baldy via the Washington Gulch and Slate River switchback. For full details about the route and registration, go to www.leadvillequalifiers.com.
Visitor Information & Personalized Vacation Packages
To catch a glimpse of biking in the valley, visit ” target=”_blank”>www.youtube.com/watch?v=OUIB8fAWi9M. For trail reports, visitwww.coloradomountainbiking.info.
To find out more about Gunnison-Crested Butte’s calendar of events or to book personalized vacation packages, call the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association’s official reservations center at (800) 814-8893 or visitwww.GunnisonCrestedButte.com/packages. Find the Tourism Association on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gcbtaor follow us on www.twitter.com/gcbta. During the summer and fall, air access to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport is provided by United Airlines.
About Gunnison County, Colorado
Gunnison-Crested Butte is nestled among almost two million acres of pristine wilderness in southwest Colorado. Winter sports enthusiasts know the area for its world-class alpine skiing and snowboarding at Crested Butte Mountain Resort, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and ice fishing. Gunnison-Crested Butte is also a haven for outdoor summer activities. In the warmer months, visitors can choose from recreational activities such as hiking, climbing, mountain biking, boating, whitewater rafting, kayaking, fly-fishing, camping and horseback riding. Year-round visitors enjoy distinctive restaurants, unique shops and stimulating cultural opportunities, and have a wide range of lodging options — from rustic inns to guest cabins and bed-and-breakfasts to full-service resort hotels.
Gunnison, county seat and a real western town, is home to the Gunnison-Crested Butte Regional Airport, Gunnison Whitewater Park, Gunnison Valley Observatory, Pioneer Museum and Western State College, which offers bachelor’s and master’s degrees in liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional fields. Both Crested Butte and Gunnison have thriving historic central business districts packed with shopping and dining opportunities.
Recognized as the “Official Wildflower Capital of Colorado” by the Colorado Legislature and one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s “Dozen Distinctive Destinations” in 2008, Crested Butte is 28 miles from Gunnison and the site of rich mining, ranching and skiing heritage and home to the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame. Only three miles up the road is the resort village of Mt. Crested Butte, home to the ski area, an active base area, the area’s conference center, and outstanding hiking and biking trails.
Marble is located in the Upper Crystal River Valley along the Elk Mountains and is the gateway to nearby Crystal, home to one of the most photographed mill sites in the country. Marble has seven sites on the National Register of Historic Places and is the location of the Yule Marble Quarry.
In Gunnison County, visitors will find the Curecanti National Recreation Area, where dinosaur fossils were recently discovered; the Blue Mesa Reservoir, Colorado’s largest body of water and home to the largest Kokanee salmon fishery in the United States; and The Black Canyon of the Gunnison, one of our country’s newest national parks. Gunnison County includes the quaint and historic towns of Pitkin, Gothic, Tin Cup, Marble, Powderhorn, Almont and Crystal, plus the better-known communities of Gunnison, Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte. Gunnison County is part of the West Elk Loop and Silver Thread Scenic & Historic Byways.
Source: Beth Buehler