June 27 to July 2 (Crested Butte, CO) —
We rolled into Crested Butte, CO just in time to meet for dinner with the awesomest mountain biking coach, Andy Shabo, and his fiancee, Heidi. They suggested a place called Secret Stash, which by name alone sounded great. And it did not disappoint. The meatball pizza was delicious and the Mac Daddy pizza (their riff on Big Mac as pizza) was surprisingly good.
Indeed, we liked Secret Stash so much that we went back nearly ever other day while we were in Crested Butte ….. which means we ate pizza for about 25% of our meals. Good thing we were also riding gorgeous trails each day, burning off a few calories and enjoying these views:
And, on occasion, we did eat some vegetables.
Although, now that I think about it, isn’t a caprese salad basically a margherita pizza without the crust? Hmmm, I may have to rethink how proud I was of myself for making us “salad” for one meal during our pizza gluttony.
We came to Crested Butte to participate in their Bike Week, which kicked off with a downhill race from Kebler Pass called the “Chainless” race. What we didn’t know is that everyone wears costumes for the race (and, frankly, would continue to wear costumes throughout the weekend for unexplained reasons — it was like Mardi Gras and Halloween on bikes).
For example, here’s a Lucha Libre wrestler who participated in the race.
We watched for a while, evaluating the costumes more than the racing (which seemed to be the point as no one was taking the racing seriously).
We decided this was the best one, especially since it was terrifying to watch come down the hill but the participants (two doctors and a nurse) seemed to be having a ball. It involved a bike pulling a gurney as a trailer, with an organ transplant cooler, blaring an ambulance siren as they went.
They got extra points in our minds for writing the sign on the front backwards. You know, so that bike riders in front of them could read it in their rear view mirrors.
The next day, we decided to hit the classic Trail 401. It’s only about 13.5 miles but requires riding up to the top of Schofield Pass (at over 10,000 feet in elevation), then up some more on singletrack, then down for about 4 miles on flowy and fun singletrack, but with a stinger of a climb to get back out to your car at the trailhead.
Heading up the road to Schofield Pass, we saw our first snow patches since we left the Cascades.
Once we made it up the steep singletrack to the top at about 11,300 ft, the views were stunning (including more snow patches) and we could see the backside of the Maroon Bells near Aspen.
The views continued to amaze us all the way down the singletrack.
The next day, we met up with Andy and his friend Tara from Boulder to ride the epic Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman’s loop.
Fewer pictures here, but it was — hands down — the most beautiful and best trail I’ve ever ridden.
The loop is 20 miles long and has three climbs and three descents (over 3,300 total elevation gain). The climbs were all fine, except that none of us kept up with Tara until her bike refused to shift to her little chain ring during the third climb.
The third of the three descents was my favorite. Deadman’s Gulch (Trail 420) has somewhere between 27 and 32 switchbacks depending on who you ask — I lost count on the way down– and is an absolute riot to ride. It’s actually amazing to me that I enjoyed it because I used to hate, hate, hate switchbacks. Just goes to prove that Andy is an outstanding mountain biking coach who taught me some serious skills during the BetterRide camp I attended in Fruita at the end of May (http://betterride.net/).
All the skills in the world, however, could not keep me vertical by the time we crossed the waist deep Cement Creek to get back to the truck. The ground never felt so welcoming.
Good Eats in Crested Butte
Secret Stash – http://www.stashpizza.com/ – All pizzas delicious. Lasagna pretty great too. Lots of craft beers.
Teocalli Tamale – http://www.teocallitamale.com/ – Get the hard tacos wrapped in a soft flour tortilla, with guacamole as the glue holding it together, with whatever filling you prefer. You won’t find this on the menu. (PS — Don’t eat at Mexicali across the street. Worst carne asada ever – practically inedible.)