Plans being laid for smoother ride next year
For most of the nearly 200 people involved, the Chainless Townie Bike Race was a resounding success, even if they ended up walking a townie down Kebler Pass Road with tacks in the tires. That happened to more than a few participants. And it looks like the race, hopefully not the tacking, will happen again next year.
Crested Butte attorney Aaron Huckstep, who worked hard to organize and promote the previously unruly annual spectacle, approached the Gunnison County Commissioners on Tuesday, July 27 with a report of this year’s event and a request for the future.
He, along with director of public works Marlene Crosby, told the commissioners that the three-hour, county-approved closure of County Road 12 (Kebler Pass Road), made the race infinitely safer. While it may have been a little long, it allowed the race to go off, essentially, without a hitch.
“The participants thought the closure was a great idea and the town was happy with it as well. There were some complaints from the Trapper’s [Crossing] HOA,” Huckstep said. “I think we may have obstructed two cars. I’m not sure there’s anyway to completely eliminate that.”
Officially, 161 participants registered for the race, but Huckstep said the Mountain Express thought its shuttle had taken about 200 people to the start of the race on top of Kebler Pass.
Although he said there was no way to tell how many of those participating in the race were locals or visitors, Huckstep thought next year that information would be available and it might show that the race is making more people from out of town happy rather than mad.
“I was at the Kebler closure and we probably had eight cars waiting at the sign,” Huckstep said, adding that a lot of the people got out of their cars to take pictures. “The Forest Service official at the top used his stopwatch from the time we put the barrier up to the time cars started moving, and it was 14 minutes.”
Another 10 cars were waiting at the bottom of Kebler Pass Road for about an hour and a half, which is just what race organizers expected. And next year they anticipate having an even better handle on the pace of events. “We spent an inordinate amount of time getting the foundation laid so next year this is a much easier process,” he said.
Some ideas were thrown around to make the race more palatable for everyone involved, including the posting of signs at the Trapper’s Crossing and Irwin Townsite intersections with Kebler Pass Road letting residents know that the road will be closed.
Even though the road was closed at the top of the pass for only 14 minutes this year, it will likely be set to close for 30 minutes next year, to allow for race organizers to clear the road of bikes and riders before the traffic starts to flow.
And race organizers will be back before the county again next year requesting a road closure. The commissioners agreed to spend more time then working through potential conflicts.
In the meantime, excitement and momentum around the Chainless race is growing as racers-in-waiting build their respective rides for next year and the media mill starts turning out some pump for the event.
“Mountain Bike Action [magazine] is going to do a large spread on the Chainless and Fat Tire Bike Week,” Huckstep said. “We should get some really good exposure from that.”