The Highs (and Lows) of Colorado Mountain Biking - Page 5
|View of Marble Mountain and Schofield Pass (Abrahm Lustgarten)|
Marble, Colorado, is about a four-hour drive from Denver, and just over an hour and a half from Aspen. Most major U.S. airlines fly to Denver, and Aspen has its own airport, but flights in and out are rather expensive (as indicated by the number of private jets that dot the landing strip). The route we took from Marble, over Schofield Pass, down the 401, into Crested Butte, up Pearl Pass, and into Aspen was about 80 miles all told, and can be done (barring mechanical explosions) in two daysbut should be attempted by only those with experience, some serious lung power, or a particular passion for punishing uphill climbs. Day-long ascents from Crested Butte to the top of Pearl and then back down are also common, should you want to stay in Crested Butte and save a bit of greenAspen can be expensive. Riders of all skill levels, however, could spend two weeks exploring the region's singletrack and only scratch the surface. Area ski resorts also offer lift-supported mountain biking.
When to Go
Weather in Colorado is tricky, but as a rule the snow melts by mid June, and stays that way through mid September. Late September and early October can be glorious for mountain biking, but pre-season snowstorms are a distinct possibility. As with any excursions in the Rockies, always pack for potentially adverse weather. Rainstorms can roll in off an adjacent peak in a heartbeat. Heavy rain and hail are possible, especially in the afternoons, and freak summer snowstorms do happen at higher altitudes. Pay attention to weather forecasts, and learn to watch the sky for signs of impeding storms.
Places to Stay
Crested Butte International Lodge and Hostel (P.O. Box 1332/615 Teocalli Avenue, Crested Butte, CO 81224; 888.389.0588; www.crestedbuttehostel.com; email@example.com) has communal beds ($20-$22 per night), private rooms ($50-$62 per couple), and apartments (cost varies on length of stay). Prices fluctuate according to season. The Historic Pioneer Guest Cabins (Cement Creek Road, Crested Butte, CO 81224; 970.349.5517; www.thepioneer.net) has four historic cottages and four mountain cabins (three beds) for rent starting at $100 per night (depending on season). Camping is also available outside of Crested Butte within Gunnison National Forest and at Oh-Be-Joyful Campground, three miles outside of town.
Tourist Agencies and National Park Service Resources
Gunnison National Forest (970.641.0471; www.fs.fed.us/r2/gmug)
Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (www.visitcrestedbutte.com/bikeassociation)
The mountain biking section of Visit Crested Butte (www.visitcrestedbutte.com/biking) has good reference material on regional trails.
Crested Butte Mountain Guides (970.349.5430; www.crestedbutteguides.com) offers a full range of outdoor adventures for both groups and individuals, including half- and full-day mountain biking trips,, downhill tours, and women's mountain bike clinics. Pioneer Mountain Bike Guides (970.349.5430; www.ridecrestedbutte.com) offers half-, full-, and multi-day tours in and around Crested Butte, catering trips to all skill levels.
For rentals, both the Colorado Boarder Bike Shop (32 Crested Mount Lane, Crested Butte, CO 81225; 970.349.9828; www.airupthere.com) and The Alpineer (416 6th Street, Crested Butte, CO 81225; 800.223.4655; www.alpineer.com) offer reasonable rates on front- and full-suspension bikes. They can also offer advice and hook you up with maps and directions to their favorite routes, as well as supply your gear bag with any mechanical necessities you may need before departing.
Best Hotels in Crested Butte