The best way to span the seasons and see the valley
by Than Acuff
It’s that time of year again: tax season.
Spring Break at Padre Island, Texas. Forget Florida, let’s Padre. Spring Break 2018.
Nope, but close.
It’s time to start rigging up for the annual Crested Butte Pole, Pedal, Paddle race (CB3P) on Sunday, April 29, a race from the snowy mountains of Crested Butte down valley to the sunny shores of the Gunnison Whitewater Park via skis, bike and boat.
The CB3P started six years ago and has been riding a wave of enthusiasm from locals as well as people from around the state, and even as far as Utah.
Each year, anywhere from 45 to 70 people sign up for the spring rite of passage and already things are looking to blow up for this year’s CB3P.
“Our goal this year is 85 participants,” says race director/organizer/creator Tiff Simpson. “We already have 39 registered, which is huge for us this early—that’s up from 11 that we had this time last year.”
It all starts with an uphill/downhill ski race on Crested Butte Mountain that takes you from the base of the ski area to the top of Paradise Bowl and then back down to the base. Runs are green and blue in difficulty. Race organizers recommend AT or tele gear, but split boards and Nordic gear are allowed. Snowshoes are not allowed.
From there, participants switch to bikes for a 27-mile ride from Crested Butte Mountain Resort to the North Bridge put-in on the Gunnison River by Garlic Mike’s. A road bike will be the most efficient choice, but any human-powered bike will be allowed.
Racers then drop their bikes and jump in boats to paddle 4.5 miles from the North Bank put-in on the Gunnison River to the Gunnison Whitewater Park. The river section of the race is mostly Class I and II and will require competitors to paddle through one Class II+/III- rapid and any non-motorized water craft is allowed on the course. PFDs are required for the river portion of the race and helmets are required for every part of the race.
Weather is always the question mark each and every year. Race day this year promises to be cooler in the morning with some sunlight, a little warmer around midday with a chance for a little more sunlight and then reaching a potential high temperature around early afternoon with a chance for sun, wind, rain and/or snow.
Regardless of the weather, the CB3P is a party from one end of the valley to the other, with some taking it seriously, some trying to take it a little seriously and a host of others just along for the fun. Furthermore, the team category opens it up for just about anyone.
“We get a little bit of everything,” says Simpson. “We get some people with all the best gear there to race all the way to people on old klunker gear and costumes. I almost think some people are there racing for last place.”
Fortunately, Simpson has everyone in mind when it comes to prizes with a gang-load of goodies for everybody, from the hardcore to the hardly coherent, by the time the after race party rolls around.
“There’s a cash purse of $800 for the podium in the race category and prizes for the podium finishers in the fun category as well as gift certificates from local restaurants for the team category,” says Simpson. “And all racers and volunteers are entered in the overall event raffle.”
As with any mountain triathlon, gathering gear can be a bit tricky but the Gunnison Valley is flush with equipment. One glance through the online marketplaces and there are deals on anything and everything one could possibly need. Don’t want to kick down to get down? No problem, just ask your neighbor, your friend, your friend’s neighbor and I bet you will find what you need for the CB3P. Simpson even has a forum set up on Facebook, the CB3P Participant forum, to help people find gear, teammates and even info on the course.
“That’s the best resource if you’re in need of gear,” says Simpson.
And finally, like all great local events, there is a fundraising component. Each year, Simpson has had to wait until the money comes in before she can announce a local non-profit beneficiary. Last year she donated proceeds from the CB3P to Mountain Manners. This year, however, she is planning ahead.
“The most exciting thing is this is the first year we can announce the beneficiary ahead of the event,” says Simpson. “All proceeds from the race this year will go to Gunnison Trails.”
With categories for solo race, solo fun and team relay, the CB3P has it all. Fact is, you don’t need the latest and greatest in gear. If it slides, rolls and floats, you’re in. All information, registration and collaboration can be found at crestedbutte3p.com.