Pole, pedal and paddle for a shot at cold, hard cash
With the onset of spring comes the annual gear exchange, from skis and snowboards to bikes and boats. But before you put the winter gear away, there’s one more event that should be on your tick list: the Crested Butte Pole, Pedal and Paddle—aka the CB3P.
This year the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce and Elk Mountain Events, with some help from New Belgium Brewery, bring you the third annual CB3P on Sunday, April 26. It’s become an annual spring rite of passage and is pretty simple: Start in the mountains on snow, finish on the river in Gunnison, with a little bit of pedaling in between.
“It’s a great spring thing to do,” says chamber director Dave Ochs. “It ties the two ends of the valley together and is a great way to take advantage of some off-season action.”
“It’s such a great way to celebrate the variety of activities you can do in a mountain town,” adds race director Tiff Simpson.
Last year, 51 participants lined up for the inaugural event and were greeted with sunny skies and warm temps. The weather took a turn on the CB3P, blasting racers with cold wind and sideways snow with the sun making random showings to keep spirits high. Despite the meteorological situation, more than 30 people braved the elements and were rewarded with a sunny finish line in Gunnison and a slew of prizes.
The range of talent spans all walks of life. On one end you have people who have never climbed uphill on skis or even paddled a kayak in a river.
On the other end there are seasoned veterans of pole, pedal, paddle races and professional triathletes. The range of gear follows suit. Some racers use the latest skimo gear, ride time trials bikes and paddle sleek fiberglass boats designed specifically for downriver racing. Other participants opt for splitboards and townies and jump into a raft with five of their buddies and a cooler of beer.
“Anyone can do this event,” says race director Tiff Simpson.
The race kicks off at 10 a.m. with a Le Mans running start from the fire pit in Mountaineer Square to the slopes of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. Racers step into their skis, or snowboards, and then start climbing. The new ski course will take them to the top of Paradise Lift before wrapping around on Silver Queen Road to Windy Gap. From there, racers will “tear the hides” and ski back down to the base area, step out of their skis and run to the transition area by the fire pit and hop on their bikes.
The bike and paddle sections will be the same—27 miles of road riding to the put-in at North Bridge and then 4.5 miles of paddling to the finish line.
“The big question this year is the ski course,” says Simpson. “We’re working with CBMR to try to keep a ski route but anything can happen and we’ll figure something out. Lack of snow is not going to stop the race at all.”
“Lord knows, getting creative is the key,” adds Ochs. “We might just have to get crafty up there. I could just jump on the fat bike right now and that will make it snow.”
As always, there will be a “race” class and a “fun” class for individuals and teams of three. New this year, New Belgium Brewery has thrown in a $500 cash purse to be divided up among the top three men and women in the solo race class.
In addition, all racers will get a raffle ticket for a shot at a pile of donated prizes, so there’s a good chance that if you participate, you will finish with a cold beer in one hand and a prize in the other.
Registration is open online at crestedbutte3p.com and if you sign up before April 19, you get a discounted rate of $50 for individuals or $90 for teams. Registration will continue to be open online until the day before the race with the final chance to register at the mandatory pre-race meeting on Saturday, April 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the chamber of commerce building at the Four-way Stop.
The first 50 people to register are guaranteed a custom CB3P/New Belgium pint glass and a competitor goodie bag.