Three days in Crested Butte?
By Mark Reaman
While not yet officially announced, it appears that Crested Butte and Gunnison are on the route for next summer’s Ride the Rockies bicycle tour. In fact, Crested Butte could be a main focus of the 2019 central Colorado event, with the early June tour starting and ending in Crested Butte.
Organizers won’t confirm places and dates but acknowledge that a central Colorado tour is “being considered” and Crested Butte could be the origination point. Local officials, along with some tour riders, have been alerted that the seven-day ride could start on Sunday, June 9 with a so-called 52-mile Crested Butte Loop.
An early look at a potential route that has been discussed by the organizing committee has riders taking off Monday morning from Crested Butte and presumably heading to Buena Vista. That hoped-for route option would go over Cottonwood Pass but continued construction and paving work will likely be taking place at that time, if it is even open so organizers are looking for alternative routes. There are times that a heavy snow year keeps the pass closed into June. Organizers say that route option is not set in stone but Ride the Rockies has used the road before despite its 14 miles of gravel between the Taylor Reservoir and the top of the pass.
The final day of the ride, Saturday, June 15, is tentatively planned to be a relatively easy 40-mile ride from Gunnison to Crested Butte.
Crested Butte town manager Dara MacDonald said the Ride the Rockies organizers approached the town last week about the potential route. MacDonald will be meeting with Crested Butte-Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce executive director Ashley UpChurch this week to “discuss the lengthy list of community responsibilities” that come with being a host town of the event.
MacDonald said the Ride the Rockies event would be on the December 17 Town Council agenda as a discussion item.
Gunnison County public works director Marlene Crosby said she had not heard about the potential event coming through the county. After contacting the event organizers this week, she expressed some concern that Cottonwood Pass might not be ready for bike riders to travel over in early June due to potential snow coverage and paving work that could be underway.
Ride the Rockies draws literally thousands of riders each year. This summer will be the 34th year for the event. It has been in Crested Butte several times, most recently in 2015. Registration for the ride opens on January 4, with the official route announcement scheduled for January 18.