Saddle up for one…long…ride, with friends

“Get ready to go deep into the pain cave”

by Than Acuff

Temperatures are dropping, the light is fading and there are rumors of leaves changing, and that can mean only one thing: It’s time to go for one last, very long bike ride. Group ride organizer Dave Ochs is inviting all hard core riders to join him at the Chamber of Commerce building this Sunday, August 28 at 5 a.m. for the 5:30 a.m. start of the 13th Annual Crested Butte Classic group ride.

“Just some homeys and homettes getting together for a bike ride in the backyard, aaaaalllll daaaayyyyy,” says Ochs.

The Crested Butte Classic is a rite of passage and a great way to link all of the rails you’ve ridden over the summer, or over the years, into one long tour. Past years have included a series of three loops all starting and finishing at the Brick Oven. Last year, Ochs designed the route to start in town and then spend the entire day in the backcountry before ending in town. This year is he has a similar plan to last year and is focused on using as much non-motorized trails as possible and designing a route that will showcase a number of the trails the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA) has either built and/or repaired over the years.

“It’s similar to last year, absolute sheer pain and exhaustion,” says Ochs. “The route will highlight a lot of what CBMBA does out there and bring some awareness to what we’re doing.”

Without getting into the course too deep, it will start in town at the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce and head out the Slate River drainage to connect 403, 401, Deer Creek (backwards), Death Pass, up 400, Star Pass, down Crystal Peak Trail, Upper Cement Creek trail, Reno/Flag/Bear/Deadman’s, up Warm Springs trail, up the “Wall,” 405.2a, 405, down Point Lookout, 409 to Strand Bonus, Canal and then the Deli trail back to town, finishing at the Brick Oven.

All told, the course is 96 miles long with 18,000 feet of climbing and descending.

“Get ready to go deep into the pain cave,” says Ochs. “When you finish up Deer Creek and make that left to 400 you’re committed. 400 is the moment of truth.”

The group ride is open to anyone and everyone, but if you’re looking to finish, Ochs does have some words of advice.

“The key to survival is starting slow,” warns Ochs. “Whatever you feel is your pace, back it off about 10 notches. Be prepared: You are out there and you could get stuck in the gnar. This is not the race where you try to shed some ounces by not bringing extra gear like a spare tube. Nutrition and hydration are key.”

There will be some race support, albeit limited. Ochs is looking for volunteers and their trucks at mile 36 at the end of Deer Creek on Brush Creek Road and also at mile 68 at the Deadman’s trailhead. Group riders can put supply bags in both trucks the morning of the race to have gear and food waiting for them at both supply stops.

“If you’re looking to finish the whole thing, I would suggest also packing a head lamp in your bag that’s headed to Deadman’s,” says Ochs.

Last year Kelly Magelky completed the Crested Butte Classic in just over 12 hours with the last person to complete the course coming in at 16 hours and 41 minutes. This year Ochs expects similar times.

Riders must meet at the chamber building at 5 a.m. to get supplies loaded and for one last course description prior to the 5:30 a.m. start.

“Sunrise is at 6:33 a.m. and sunset will be at 7:45 p.m. so we’re maximizing daylight,” says Ochs.

Magelky is rumored to be returning, as is heavily decorated endurance racer Josh Tostado, among other friends from out of town. All told Ochs expects 20 to 25 group riders and hopes to have a strong local contingent as well.

“We’d love to have more locals in there,” says Ochs. “We invite people to come out and do as much as they want. Let’s go to church.”

Any and all questions about the course, supply trucks and/or to volunteer contact Ochs at

“This is the original grassroots endurance event,” says Ochs.

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