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Basura Blanca
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
"What I did for my summer vacation." Flash back to last Fall, during the first of two weekend trips up to Crested Butte. I remark to my wife that with the arrival of our daughter 2 years earlier, my vacation balance had been steadily increasing. Given the flexible demands of my job, I observed that it might be possible to spend 3 or 4 weeks in this quaint town with nothing to do but relax and ride. We begin searching for a place to rent, quickly determining that using one of the local property management companies will guarantee that we pay too much. They pretty much have the short-term rental market sewed up, but we did manage to find a place on our second visit of '03. Fast forward to Spring '04, in a new and more demanding job, where I ask my team leader for a month off. She consented, and I?m filing this ride report. Well OK, not so much a ride report as a rambling collection of thoughts after spending 6/15 thru 7/15 in Crested Butte.

First, it was cool to be able to hit trails other than the classics. When you're only in town for an extended weekend, one feels obliged to ride Snodgrass, Strand Hill, 401, Deer Creek, etc. With a seemingly infinite amount of time, I was able to "discover" trails like Green Lake, Tony's/Upper/Upper Upper, and my new CB fave Farris Creek/402. Counterintuitively, Deer Creek seemed harder backwards versus riding it counterclockwise. Littleb rode it in 3 hours (Wow!) after taking a slow ride with me the day before on Reno/Flag/Bear/Dead. BTW, I'm gonna miss that girl, but that's another thread. I rode about 5 days/week, but even with some of those just being "recovery" rides like Lower/Upper Lower Loop, I was pushing the limit of my 41 year old recovery capacity. My heavy 5" travel FS bike was overkill for the riding, but a hardtail would've left me feeling beat up. Staying in town, it was nice to be able to ride everything from town (except Reno/Flag/Bear/Dead), and it really upped my mileage. The trails were all in excellent shape, although it was clear once 401 opened up that many thoughtless or ignorant folks had been riding it while closed. Trail 403 also opened late, but had not been abused. The riding in CB is wonderful, but I do wish the CBMBA was not so thorough in clearing the trails of deadfall. Other than the one nice logstack on Upper Loop, there were no obstacles to speak of. There were plenty of fallen aspen that would've been no obstacle to hikers had they been left in place, yet they were cut. Even stranger, they were not just cut to the width of the 18" singletrack, but wide enough for an ATV to pass. Since ATVs are not allowed on most of the trails, why encourage it? That said, the CBMBA does fantastic work and there is clearly a great volunteer spirit in the MTB community. I regret that the one work day they held during our time there was on a rainy day we'd spent over in Buena Vista, as I?d have loved to help out.

For a place with such a palpable sense of MTB stewardship and responsibility, it surprised me how all the hikers seemed to bolt off of the trail at the first sight of a bike. I never surprised anyone, always saying "hello" well in advance, yet I was rarely given the opportunity to yield the trail. I got the imnpression that most had had poor experiences which led to this reaction. Less surprising but still disappointing was how seldom I received an acknowledgement (much less a thank you) for yielding to other bikers. The gals were always courteous, but most of the guys were oblivious. Or maybe time has passed me by and I?ve failed to realize that common courtesy is a thing of the past. No big deal, and it only struck me as an anomaly compared to other parts of the West.

We were in town for the FTF, the July 4 festivities, the CB Music Festival, the Wildflower Festival, and other minor events (like the free Alpenglow concerts on Monday evenings). For those that haven't been to the FTF, it's a pretty laid back affair, not the vendor-filled swagfest of a UCI race or the Fruita FTF. It also is not particularly well attended other than for the Mountain States Cup races up at the ski area - seems to be more tourists that just happen to be in the area than actual MTBers. The fireworks show can be seen from anywhere in town, and the parade, while more tame than in years past, was still good, and fun for kids. The Music Festival had some kid-specific events, like an afternoon concert of Vivaldi's Four Seasons with and explanation of how the orchestra makes thunder, etc.

General thoughts of a positive nature: The Eldo brews a very nice hefeweizen (sp?), and an excellent porter. Like many places, their prices seem to float on a whim (or maybe it's according to the calendar, as there were fewer deals to be had once July arrived). My favorite happy hour deal was the $5 pitchers of PBR on the deck at the Bakery, with the $2 fish tacos at the Last Steep a close second. The Secret Stash is still a funky place with fantastic food, but the upstairs area is not as cool as when they first opened. I liked the espresso shakes at Pitas in Paradise better than at Camp 4 Coffee. The Black Satin coffee at Buckaroo Beanery is very, very good. The money generated by tourism, at least to a degree, gets reinvested in the community to make it better for both tourists and locals. Witness the large number of parks, the free shuttle bus (w/ bike racks) that runs up to the ski area, and the general cleanliness and beautiful appearance of the town. Negatives? A small number of places (like the grill in the gas station) seem to have different prices for tourists versus the locals. That's their right, and they probably don't care that I took exception to it and never spent anymore $$ there. Karolina's Kitchen advertises as being voted the best breakfast in town, but I've never eaten at a place with such a level of apathy. Everyone working obviously wanted to be somewhere else, and thus so did I. If you're visiting CB, you're better off getting breakfast anywhere else. Also, most locals are quite amiable, but it was kinda sad that many of the local moms obviously discourage their kids from associating with non-locals. Our 3-year old girl, missing her playmates back home, was repeatedly rebuffed when she tried to play with other kids at the park or at the concerts. There were exceptions, God bless them, but the trend was quite apparent. No lasting harm to her psyche, but it was disappointing. I guess if I lived there, I'd be tired of the tourists, but I'm not sure my response would be to keep my kid cloistered.

Cool stuff: I swung by the Willits shop and got to ride a couple mid-90's Willits Mounties. One was Wes' and the other belonged to a friend of his. It had internal cable routing and the Schlumpf (sp?) 2-speed bottom bracket. I'd have talked price and options with them, but he's closing up shop and wanted me to place an order right away, which I was not prepared to do. Meeting him confirmed much of what I'd heard about Wes, but it was kind of him to let me take the bikes for a spin, and he does make some really sweet bikes. I see a 29'er in my future, but it'll probably be a Wily Retro if I can save up the dough to do it right. Also cool was the amount of solo riding I was able to do. With our daughter preschool only 2 days/week, most of my riding was alone, and I could really enjoy the scenery and the wildlife on the less popular trails. Speaking of preschool, also among the cool was the Little Red Schoolhouse in CB South. Our daughter absolutely loved it, and it was much better than the simple babysitting offered by most preschools. If you have need of such a place when visiting CB, definitely give Jessica or Jamie a call. You kid will be better off for it, and that way you can ride with your S.O. FWIW, Stepping Stones also takes drop-ins. Props to the Alpineer, as they let me borrow a 9mm hex key. Nice folks, but if you're in town, think about giving some business to the guy at Back Alley Bikes on Bellview. He was very kind in giving me his last large tube patch for my cut sidewall (would'nt even let me pay him!), and given the prices at the Alpineer, a bit of competition in the LBS arena could be a good thing.

(edit) Forgot to mention that Holly Anala's guidebook is very nice, and very accurate. I thought the map produced by the Alpineer was more useful (more appropriate scale) than the Lattitude 40 map of the area. Also, I convinced my wife to spring for one of Holly's 1-day Women's MTB clinics, and she felt it well worth it. From what she described, Holly's a good instructor, and NuMexDonna came away a better and more confident rider at the end of the day. (end edit)

Finally, a word of advice. I realize that vacations and sabbaticals are supposed to leave one energized upon their return to work, but being gone for a full month has had the opposite effect on me. If you can swing it, I highly recommend ?summering? in Crested Butte. But your first week back at work will be spent daydreaming about riding buff singletrack through aspen glades and alpine meadows filled with flowers. Not a lot of hard info in this "ride report" and some may disagree with this tourist?s assessment, but I hope some may find it useful. Happy trails,
- Joe
 

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trail waggler
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[email protected] that sounds like fun!...

Wow, a month long bike vacation, and WITH the family, too cool. I haven't ridden there, but I can still almost picture it!

Thanks for the nice write up Joe.
 

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Quietly kicking myself...

I KNOW I should have visited, but things seemed to stay pretty busy, which kept me here.

Re: common courtesy. Hate to say it (because it makes me sound crotchety and ornery) but I wonder if courtesy has ever been all that common?

Re: long vacations / sabbaticals. I'm starting to plan one now. We'll see if it's reinvigorating or addictive ;) .

Sounds like you and the fambly milked that month off for all it was worth! Congrats!

Hasta,
Dr.F.
 

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Hey Joe! Great report and chock full of great info. about CB. It was a life saver hooking up with you & the family after the MSC race that I got spanked in, wish we could have spent a few days up there and gleaned more local's only info ;) . Still can't thank you enough. Welcome back to a recently dampened NM, and you missed most, if not all, of the SFNF closures to boot! They reopened nice and moist in what seems like a meager start to our monsoonal season... but I'll take it!

Strange about the hikers you ran into on the trail.... Dr. F may have a point there though, although usually it's a mix of responses, from downright friendly to complete disdain. As for the tree removal/cutting, if the openings were cut at 6' or so, that's per IMBA multiple use guidlines, so that 2 horsebacked folks could by-pass, if I recall correctly. Funny that it's big enough for an ATV though...... are all, or just some of the trails at CB motorcycle accessible? That may be it too, as they seem to need a decent amount of room to bypass, though it seemed like motorcycle accessible trails typically had a "one way" type set up/guidline on the trails.

I recovered from the CB race, felt strong and able at Firecracker(12,000+ feet of climbing!!!), and yet better at Snowmass until I face planted myself into an ambulance and unconsiousness! My report may still be visible down the Passion page a ways if you haven't seen it and are curious, but it's ugly!

Anyhow, welcome back! We'll need to hook up for some local riding soon...
 

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Basura Blanca
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Discussion Starter #6
IMBA guidelines

I'll confess my ignorance of lesser IMBA guidelines. Seems goofy, as I'm pretty sure a horse could step over any log I'm capable of riding over. I could divert this into a rant on how much we seem to concede to the horse people, but instead I'll just thank you for enlightening me. At least now I understand it, even if I don't agree with the logic. You're right about our timing; we missed the hottest part of the NM summer, and didn't have to deal with any of the forest closures. I did see your race report, and that ugly photo. Crashes like that give a guy pause, no doubt! I hope you're pretty much healed up. What's next? Isn't there a race in Durango coming up? I still need to make a trip up there this summer. Regards,
- Joe

glenzx said:
Hey Joe! Great report and chock full of great info. about CB. It was a life saver hooking up with you & the family after the MSC race that I got spanked in, wish we could have spent a few days up there and gleaned more local's only info ;) . Still can't thank you enough. Welcome back to a recently dampened NM, and you missed most, if not all, of the SFNF closures to boot! They reopened nice and moist in what seems like a meager start to our monsoonal season... but I'll take it!

Strange about the hikers you ran into on the trail.... Dr. F may have a point there though, although usually it's a mix of responses, from downright friendly to complete disdain. As for the tree removal/cutting, if the openings were cut at 6' or so, that's per IMBA multiple use guidlines, so that 2 horsebacked folks could by-pass, if I recall correctly. Funny that it's big enough for an ATV though...... are all, or just some of the trails at CB motorcycle accessible? That may be it too, as they seem to need a decent amount of room to bypass, though it seemed like motorcycle accessible trails typically had a "one way" type set up/guidline on the trails.

I recovered from the CB race, felt strong and able at Firecracker(12,000+ feet of climbing!!!), and yet better at Snowmass until I face planted myself into an ambulance and unconsiousness! My report may still be visible down the Passion page a ways if you haven't seen it and are curious, but it's ugly!

Anyhow, welcome back! We'll need to hook up for some local riding soon...
 

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NuMexJoe said:
What's next? Isn't there a race in Durango coming up? I still need to make a trip up there this summer. Regards,
- Joe
A few more races.... then riding for FUN! Yee-Haw! Durango is a must-go-to place as a good friend just bought a house their! :D Sometime in the next few weeks would be stellar indeed....

As for the IMBA/Horsey stuff, I'm with you logic-wise, just thought I'd toss it out there. ;)
 

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Great story Joe

Glad you, Donna, and Haley had a great time. and thanks for letting us live vicariously through you.

hopefully I can put you insider info on CB to use someday.
 
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