Chainless, Fat Tire 40, kids races, beer, clinics, Bridges of the Butte
by Than Acuff
It’s go time, people: The 37th Annual Crested Butte Bike Week opens on Thursday, June 22 and continues through the weekend with races, films, parties, clinics, beer and everything else that goes along with mountain biking in Crested Butte.
“Things are looking good, we’re all geared up,” says Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce events director Scott Stewart. “We are up on registrations from last year.”
Crested Butte Bike Week is the oldest mountain bike festival in the country, if not the world, and provides an incredible backdrop for a sport that has made a comeback the past 10 years, thanks to a number of factors.
First, there’s the technology. Now with bigger wheels (for the record, former Crested Butte resident Wes Williams was touting the benefits of the 29-inch wheel more than 20 years ago), better suspension (thanks in part to our very own Doug Bradbury), wider bars, dropper posts, slack head tubes (whatever that is), etc. etc., bikes are riding better than ever.
Throw in the massive amount of work done to rehabilitate existing trails and build new trails by our very own Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association and volunteers and the newly formed Crested Butte Conservation Corps, and mountain biking is peaking once again.
Not to mention the latest rage of cold brew coffee in a can, making it possible to tack on a little more mileage mid-ride.
The Crested Butte Bike Week brings it all together for four days of fun on wheels, kicking off with a host of activities on Thursday including clinics, a free guided ride of Roaring Judy/Eccher Gulch and an historic Crested Butte mountain bike tour with the Crested Butte Mountain Heritage Museum.
Friday, things really start to ramp up with activities from morning to night. First and foremost, there’s the Chainless World Championships, a gravity-fed race from the top of Kebler Pass into town starting at 4:20 p.m. and finishing at First and Elk, complete with a post-race party and live music from Gun Rack.
“Early registration is up from last year so that will help the day of the race,” says Stewart.
And while 90 percent of chainless participants are just that, participants, there is a race element for those looking for chainless world domination. Three-time champion Mark Cram explains his recipe for success.
“I believe it’s my weight to size ratio and the Le Mans start,” says Cram. “I run with my bike as long as possible and then taking a flying leap on it. The start is when it matters most. The race is generally won up high.”
In addition, there will be the slow race championships, a free guided ride on Snodgrass/Lupine/Lower Loop and movie fundraisers that evening.
Saturday is the truest test of stamina, both on and off the bike. Riders will line up early Saturday for the 8 a.m. start of the Fat Tire 40, a grueling 41-mile race linking several trails, including the refurbished sections on Deer Creek, together starting and finishing in the town of Crested Butte, with close to 75 percent of the course on single-track trails.
“It’s true cross-country mountain biking, it’s gorgeous out there,” says Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association executive director Dave Ochs. “There’s mad track.”
And while there will be a small contingent of riders gunning for the top five to get a piece of the $5,000 in prize money, Ochs has some advice for the rest of the field just looking to put in a solid personal time.
“Make sure you stop at the aid stations and fuel up,” says Ochs. “You get out on Deer Creek and you can blow up to the moon out there. Take the time to refuel.”
Meanwhile, there will be additional clinics for kids, another free guided group ride, the start of the Bridges of the Butte 24-hour townie tour at noon as well as a dance party that night at the Mirror Palace in Mt. Crested Butte.
Sunday, things close with more racing as the kids hit the trails for the second annual Jr. Wildflower Classic races starting that morning. There’s a Mountain Manners class touting the Leave No Trace mantra for recreation on our surrounding hills and one last free guided ride on Doctor Park.
“I’m excited about it—it’s going to be wild,” says Stewart.
He adds that volunteers are needed to help pull it all off. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.