“F that—Where’s the beer?”
by Than Acuff
The annual CB3P, a pole, pedal and paddle tour/race of the Gunnison valley, reached a new zenith on Sunday, April 29 as 109 competitors/participants jumped into the fray and were treated to the best time possible on skis, on bikes and in boats. New champions were crowned, some repeated, a swan flipped, Ben beat Dan and friends and families were treated to a great way to spend the day together enjoying some of what the Gunnison valley has to offer.
It’s been a long time coming for this incredible event, created by Tiff Simpson with a host of amazing volunteers to pull it off. Five years ago at the inaugural event, 50 people lined up and were treated to incredible weather. Unfortunately, inclement weather the next four years made for some hesitation among the throngs of the CB3P curious with numbers hovering around 60, weather depending. In the meantime, Simpson kept gathering prizes and building partnerships to make sure that when the stars aligned, she and her crew were ready.
Well, on Sunday, the stars aligned as the weather cooperated and the interest in the event had gathered enough steam to put on one helluva show.
“We skied, we biked, we paddled, we danced, we shot-skied and the weather was gorgeous the entire time,” says race creator/director Tiff Simpson. “Year six was when it finally all came together.”
The start of the race said it all as the participants lined up for the Le Mans opening, making their way to their skis and snowboards for the first section of the race. When the gun went off, 30 percent of the participants started sprinting, 50 percent were jogging, a couple appeared to be crying from the damage the night before at the pre-race meeting, and the rest casually strolled to their skis and snowboards to start climbing the mountain. Ten minutes later, two others showed up to start their race.
The usual suspects, including some U.S. Skimo team members and Skyrunning World Champions, were high-speed skinning up the meticulously groomed track compliments of Crested Butte Mountain Resort. The rest of the pack were slow-speed skinning and one guy was just walking, carrying his snowboard.
Meanwhile, a fleet of bikes was lined up around the fire pit at Mountaineer Square waiting for the next section. On one end of the line up was a Worksman Cycles townie (made in America since 1898) and on the other, a full-on trials road bike, aerodynamic bars, aerodynamic wheels, aerodynamic everything. Somewhere in the mix was also the Verdecchia’s tandem as Drew and his son Blaze skied, biked and paddled together.
Twenty minutes in, one participant was done, not with the ski portion but with the race altogether, explaining that the effort was not within his wheelhouse.
“I knew it was going to be bad, I just didn’t think it would be that bad,” he said as he tossed his ski pack down.
Meanwhile, everyone else appeared to make it up and down the mountain. Some then tagged off to their relay team member for the bike portion while solo racers made the transition from pole to pedal. Props out to last year’s solo champion Mike Preston on his transition—running in his boot liners from snow to bike, peeling them off and jumping into his bike shoes that were already clipped into his pedals.
While in past years, bikers were faced with some sleet, some snow and side winds, this year they were spared the usual brunt of weather and left solely to deal with a debilitating, not crushing, but debilitating headwind. Luckily for Dan Loftus, he was treated to some inspirational signage along the way as he battled his loose-fitting Slayer hockey jersey in the headwind. Meanwhile, one guy was humping his townie down valley while Dave Wiens—yes, that Dave Wiens—was in the process of bringing his team into first place during the bike portion.
“Dave Wiens was in the event. He’s a legend,” says Simpson. “That’s the span of people in the event. A guy on a townie, Loftus, Dave Wiens and everything in between.”
Wiens tagged off to Dodson Harper for the paddle section and Harper finished it off for the overall win to take down Team Green for the first time since the race’s inception.
“Even the Ming Dynasty came to an end,” commented Team Green perennial paddler Milo Wynne.
Multisport athlete Jesse Rickert took the overall solo category win, Brynn O’Connell repeated as the women’s solo champion and Jari Kirkland, Stevie Kremer and Sarah Stubbe channeled their inner Fanny Blankers-Koen (look it up) for the women’s team win. Everyone was treated to the finish line stoke, with food compliments of Brian Phillips, Bryce Armiston and Large Marge, beer from Eddyline Brewing and words from Dave Ochs.
“F**k that—where’s the beer?” said one winner as the shot-ski came out, the party kicked into gear, prizes were doled out and the dancing erupted as world champions and other assorted über-athletes were mixed in with the everyday man and woman.
As for the future of the CB3P, things are looking bright. Having broken the 100 mark, Simpson is now looking at ways to improve the event without losing the event.
“This was the first year we even thought about a cap so we may have to put one in place,” says Simpson. “I think the biggest change is we’re going to hire professional timers. With that number of participants, we can’t do it with iPads and volunteers. I couldn’t ask for better participants. My heart is so full to have that many people show up. I’m on cloud nine.”