Big Mountain Enduro: Crested Butte
Day 1: Travel Day
Sacramento – Salt Lake City – Crested Butte
After a quick flight from Sacramento, I arrived in Salt Lake City, immediately grab my bag and bike box from baggage claim and hop into Mason Bond’s van for the 8 hour haul out to Crested Butte.
Earlier in the year Mason briefly mentioned the idea to fly out to Crested Butte for the Big Mountain Enduro race in August. At first I didn’t put much thought into going. As the race date drew closer and more and more stories of epic trails surfaced, I decided to buy my flight out.
Quick pit stop to shoot some obligatory road trip sunset photos. Only an hour outside of Crested Butte.
Day 2: Practice Day
Evolution Bike Park + Doctor Park
Mason and I decided that after our long travel day it would be best to ease into the riding with some laps at the Crested Butte Bike Park. Getting some practice in the park was essential because 3 of the 10 stages we scheduled in the bike park.
Doctor Park Trail:
Stats: ~20miles, 2700′ ascent/descent.
This trail is an instant classic. Prior to the ride, the trail was described to me as being similar to a 30mph pump track through the aspens and after riding, I couldn’t agree more.
There are two options for this ride: an 8 mile dirt road climb or shuttling to the creek crossing. Opting for the easier of the two options, Duncan, Mason and I shuttled. The ride starts off with a creek crossing and immediately the shoes and socks were off.
After the quick creek crossing, the uphill grind began. Up an old 4×4 track through “Doctors Gulch” we climbed. We hit the ridge line after a long steep pitch and were greeted with expansive views of Spring Creek in the valley below.
The trail turns to single track and weaves through the woods over technical roots and mud bogs until you pop out in an expansive meadow. From here it’s all downhill back to the car.
The downhill has 3 distinct sections. The 1st section is fast and wide with loose rock and small steps. The 2nd section is an effortlessly fast and flowy trail through the aspens. The 3rd section is rocky, loose and filled with fun switchbacks down to the car at North Bank Campground.
Day 3: Epic Practice Day
Waterfall Creek – 409.5 Trail – Caves Trail
Stats: 27 miles – 6800′ ascent – 8500′ descent
After reviewing the course maps the night before, we decided to take on the task of practicing the entire Race Day 2 Course. This would leave us 3 days of rest before having to do the same route again.
The ride started off around 10am from the shuttle drop at Peal Pass Road/Brush Creek. From there the 4×4 road immediately crosses Brush Creek (1st crossing) then continues uphill. A few miles later after a flat section through a valley we crossed Brush Creek again (2nd Crossing). After a few more miles we made a turn off of the 4×4 road and dropped down to Brush Creek to cross yet again (3rd Crossing)!
The brutal part of the climb begins after the 3rd creek crossing. This section is aptly named “Block and Tackle”. From here the trail takes a direct route to the summit, becoming a steep rutted hike-a-bike. After an hour of hiking, which felt like an eternity, we broke out of the forest and onto the final ridge line above 11,000 feet.
After two and a half hours of grueling uphill, the crew stopped at the top to enjoy the views and take in some fuel.
Day 4: 403 Trail
High above Crested Butte, the 403 trail drops from 11,400′ down to the rustic town of Gothic. We opted to shuttle this trail to avoid the unnecessary dirt road riding.
The true singletrack begins just above the dilapidated gold mining town of Elkton. From here there is roughly a 10-15 minute climb to the start of the downhill.
In typical Crested Butte fashion the views on the way up were jaw dropping:
Day 5 – Rain Day
A 5am wake up call to get down to the venue for a 6:30am shuttle. It was dumping rain all night and showed no signs of letting up. We reluctantly loaded the van and drove through the darkness down to the event. Fully prepared for a long and muddy day on the bike we pedaled over to the shuttle bus. Slightly pissed and also relieved, we heard the news that the racing was canceled for the day.
Time to go fishing…
The weather broke and the sun came out. Time for some soul riding in the bike park.
Squeezing the most out of the day, we headed back out for some evening fishing on Slate Creek.