Mountain bike races, gran fondo road rides, townie tours, world-renowned trails and more will keep two-wheelers grinning and fist-pumping this summer and fall in Gunnison-Crested Butte, Colorado.
Biking is a way of life here, whether it’s on skinny tires, fat tires or a bike with one gear enjoying the stunning mountain scenery. Since the 1970s, when locals started retrofitting old Schwinn paperboy bikes with multiple gears, Crested Butte has become known as one of the birthplaces of mountain biking, and the biking scene in the valley continues to gain momentum and renown across the globe.
For hard-core mountain bikers and weekend warriors, the Half-Growler, Full-Growler, Wildcat 40, 24 Hours in the Sage and Pearl Pass Mountain Bike Tour are a great fit and a visit to Evolution Bike Park at Crested Butte Mountain Resort and the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame is a must. Road bikers can hop in the saddle for the Growler Gran Fondo, West Elk Bicycle Classic or Bicycle Tour of Colorado with its two-night stop in Crested Butte. Those who like to be a little more casual and enjoy cruiser bikes, including families, will enjoy the Townie Takeover Ride and Bridges of the Butte Butte. Crested Butte Bike Week celebrates all types of biking, including the gutsy but calculated maneuvers of downhill and cross country racing.
2013 Biking Events
May 25 Half-Growler Mountain Bike Race (32 miles), Hartman Rocks, Gunnison
May 26 Full-Growler Mountain Bike Race (64 miles), Hartman Rocks, Gunnison
May 26 Growler Gran Fondo, Gunnison to Mt. Crested Butte and back
May 26 Townie Takeover Ride, Gunnison
June 1 National Trails Day – Work on Trails in Gunnison & Crested Butte Areas
June 26 – 28 Bicycle Tour of Colorado in Crested Butte
June 26 – 30 Crested Butte Bike Week, Crested Butte & Mt. Crested Butte
June 29 – 30 Bridges of the Butte, Crested Butte
June 29 – 30 Big Mountain Enduro, Mt. Crested Butte
Aug. 24 – 25 24 Hours in the Sage, Hartman Rocks, Gunnison
Sept. 1 West Elk Bicycle Classic, Gunnison to Crested Butte
Sept. 7 – 8 Pearl Pass Mountain Bike Tour, Crested Butte to Aspen
Gunnison Growler Weekend, May 25 – 27
Memorial Day weekend offers options for skinny tire, fat tire and cruiser bicyclists. The 32-mile Half-Growler (one lap) will officially kick off the local mountain bike racing season on May 25 at 9 a.m., followed by the 64-mile Full-Growler (two laps, climbing 4,000 vertical feet on each) on May 26 at 7 a.m. Each race is capped at 350 riders and starts and finishes in downtown Gunnison at IOOF Park for a celebration. The bulk of the races take place on trails at Hartman Rocks Multi-Use Recreation Area. The Half-Growler is sold out but registration is available for the Full-Growler at www.BikeReg.com with an entry fee of $97.
For those who missed out on registering for the Half Growler, race organizers will be tracking and scoring a one-lap, 32-mile race on Sunday called The Late Bus 32. To enter, simply register for the Full Growler and stop after one lap. The races, organized by biking legend and local resident Dave Wiens, are the primary fundraiser for Gunnison Trails, a nonprofit organization dedicated to maintaining and expanding the singletrack experience in the Gunnison area. Go to www.gunnisontrails.com for information.
The third annual Growler Gran Fondo ride from Gunnison to Crested Butte and back will begin on May 26 at 7:30 a.m., immediately following the Full-Growler start. This fundraising 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 one of the timed sections 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. Registration is available at www.bikereg.com and costs $40. For more information contact Mike Tofel at (970) 275-4138 and visitwww.gunnisonmentors.com.
For bicyclists who don’t want to tackle the Growler Gran Fondo or mountain bike races, Gunnison Country Partners’ new Townie Takeover Ride on May 26 is the answer. Ride a cruiser bike on a 1.5-mile course around Western State Colorado University and into town as many times as possible from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. (or just casually for a portion of the time). Costumes are encouraged, and there will be snacks and music. Registration is $12 or free for those who raise at least $50 in pledges. Register at www.gunnisonmentors.com.
Switch from two wheels to two shoes for the Sage Burner 25 and 50 kilometer trail running races at Hartman Rocks to wrap up the weekend on May 27. For details, go to www.sageburnertrailrun.com.
33rd Annual Crested Butte Bike Week, June 26 – 30
Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte are the proud hosts of the world’s oldest mountain bike festival that now also includes road biking, a cruiser bike tour, and downhill and cross country racing. There are options for all levels and types of riders throughout the long weekend. The arrival of the 19th annual Bicycle Tour of Colorado (www.bicycletourcolorad.com) kicks off the festivities when 1,500 bicyclists and support crews roll into town on June 26, enjoy a day off and depart on June 28. A festival and demo zone planned for June 27 means checking out the latest equipment, bicycle feats of strength, raffles, live music, food and beer for both riders and the public to enjoy. Demo booths will be set up through much of Crested Butte Bike Week.
The infamous Chainless World Championships on June 28 is always a thrilling scene for riders and spectators during Crested Butte Bike Week, followed by the Wildcat 40 mountain bike race on June 29. 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 (www.adaptivesports.org). Participants cover the 2.5-mile course as many times as possible for a 24-hour period, from the afternoon of June 29 to the afternoon of June 30, either solo or as part of a team. Costumes are encouraged.
Those who like the high-speed, adrenaline-fueled action of cross country and downhill mountain biking combined should consider the Big Mountain Enduro (www.bigmountainenduro.com) on June 29 – 30 on Crested Butte Mountain Resort trails. As one of five races in a series being held in Colorado, Utah and New Mexico, this popular international format of racing isn’t about who is the first to the climb or who can drop the sickest line, but rather the best all-around trail rider who can tackle any type of terrain the fastest. Enduro racing is the ultimate test of fitness and technical skills.
For information about Crested Butte Bike Week and to register for the Chainless World Championships and Wildcat 40, contact the Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce at (800) 814-8893 or visit the event’s Facebook page.
11th Annual 24 Hours in the Sage, August 24 – 25
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. 24 to noon Sunday, Aug. 25. 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. 24 and finishes and finishes at midnight also is offered. The race is capped at 300 participants
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.
West Elk Bicycle Classic, September 1
Western State Colorado University’s Mountain Sports Team is sponsoring the second annual West Elk Bicycle Classic on Sept. 1. The challenging 130-mile gran fondo ride climbs nearly 9,000 feet from Gunnison to Crested Butte, circumnavigating the West Elk Mountains. From Gunnison, the route proceeds along the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison to Crawford and Paonia before beginning a 5,000-foot climb up Kebler Pass to Crested Butte. Participation is capped at 250, and registration costs $110. For details and registration, go to www.western.edu/westelkbicycleclassic.
37th Annual Pearl Pass Mountain Bike Tour, September 7 – 8
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 Crested 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 visit www.mtnbikehalloffame.com.
Visitor Information & Personalized Vacation Packages
To save on flights, hotel rooms, vacation packages, car rentals and more, call the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association reservation hotline at (888) 559-0841 or go to http://book.GunnisonCrestedButte.com. For destination information, call (800) 814-8893 or visitwww.GunnisonCrestedButte.com.
For casual bicyclists, The Ruby of Crested Butte is offering a Pedal and Pamper package. After a gourmet breakfast, board one of The Ruby’s bright red cruiser or tandem bikes, wind through the National Historic District and stop at Crested Butte Heritage Museum and Mountain Bike Hall of Fame (ticket included). After lunch at one of the many eateries downtown, head toward the first section of the classic Lower Loop trail for stunning views of Paradise Divide. Trail maps, bottled water, trail mix and a bag of freshly made chocolate chip cookies will be provided to take on the ride. Return to The Ruby for two one-hour massages, a bottle of Colorado wine and a tray of gourmet cheeses and seasonal fruits. This is $750 value for $515 to $699, depending on season. Visit www.therubyofcrestedbutte.com or call (800) 390-1338.
Image courtesy Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association