Crested Butte Classic pushes riders to the limit and beyond

“It was so difficult that it pushed me mentally, and I love that”

by Than Acuff

Nineteen riders lined up at 5:30 a.m. in town Saturday morning with the temperature hovering around 30 degrees and gave this year’s incarnation of the Crested Butte Classic group ride a go. By the time all was said and done, eight actually finished with the rest giving a solid go but having to call it before completing the course.

One such rider was group ride director Dave Ochs, who found his breaking point on Teocalli Ridge.

“Teo was the nail in the coffin,” says Ochs.

The course was downright cruel and unusual and came from the sick mind of Ochs. It was actually an insight into Ochs’ emotional state having spent the past year as the Crested Butte/Mt. Crested Butte Chamber of Commerce Director and withstanding all of its trials and tribulations (We want more bathrooms at Vinotok! Why can’t you promote this valley better? Why are you promoting this valley so much? There are too many people! There are not enough people! Why can’t you promote an event that will get people here on November 3? We don’t want people here on November 3!).

The Classic course was one ginormous loop, starting and finishing in town, that covered 102 miles of local trails with over 17,000 feet of climbing… and descending.

In an attempt to put the suffering into perspective… ever ride up the Slate River Road to the top of Paradise Divide? Kind of hurts, especially in that one section by the Washington Gulch turnoff where the road gets a little steep and the rocks a little loose and sharp. Well, that’s at the beginning of the CB Classic.

Ever ride down 400 and think… “This totally kicks ass, would hate to ride up it.” Well, riding up 400 was in the middle of the CB Classic (after riding Teocalli Ridge, by the way).

Ever ride the Caves Loop and feel like you were going into cardiac arrest? Well, that was at mile 87 of this year’s CB Classic course.

It hurt, real bad, or good, so I am told.

“The comments were awesome, I can’t get over it,” says Ochs. “The joy and the anger at the same time.”

Suffice it to say, the nickname for this year’s group ride was “Evil Beauty.”

Kelly Magelky is a professional mountain bike racer who lives in Golden and has made it to six of the CB Classic rides. On Saturday he ended up winning his fourth Classic, covering the course in a time of 12 hours and two minutes while “closet hammerhead” Mike McAuley had the top local result coming in second place and Seth Morrison, yep that Seth Morrison, rounding out the podium in third place.

Laura Puckett, who spends a majority of her time teaching the youth at the Crested Butte Community School, had the top result among the women hitting the 83-mile mark before having to call it a day. I’d like to see you teach high school and middle school kids all week and then jump on a bike and try and ride as far as she did.

Magelky has an “evil affinity” for the Classic and is always willing to come to Crested Butte for more.

“I saw the course and I was like, this is going to be awesome,” says Magelky. “I was excited to ride some trails I hadn’t ridden before and I was excited to do one giant loop.”

Magelky and several other riders got their first taste of the magic of the Classic as they encountered cold temperatures and frozen trails on both 403 and 401. And while Magelky was prepared for the cold temps and the condition of the trails posed little problems for him, a dunk into Rustler’s Gulch when exiting off of 401 did provide his first challenge.

“I didn’t know it was that deep and I managed to ride through it but everything just froze, my cables, everything, so I was stuck in one gear for a while,” says Magelky.

As I mentioned, Magelky is a pro rider who is no stranger to suffering, with a long list of 24-hour and 12-hour races under his belt. Nevertheless, the Classic almost brought him to his knees.

“There were two points where I started to unravel a little bit mentally,” says Magelky. “Bear Creek was one of them and then Walrod. I was not prepared for Walrod. That, to me, at that point in the race, kept going on and on and I just completely cracked. It really slapped me across the face harder than I thought it would.”

After pushing through that final hurt, Magelky admits he had to take a quick break before he could press on.

“I had to get off my bike, eat a banana, sit down and just collect my thoughts,” says Magelky.

On the positive side, Magelky has always enjoyed the Classics of the past and the trails that are included, and this year, while harder, was no different.

“I know it sounds cliché but the whole day was really beautiful,” says Magelky. “And there’s something about riding out to Teocalli, there’s no place like it in the world.”

In the end, Magelky feels he is as ready as he has ever been for his next race, the 24-hour World Championships in California in two weeks, and has the Classic to thank.

“This year was a different beast, it’s the closest I’ve ever come to what a 24-hour race is like mentally,” says Magelky. “It was so difficult that it pushed me mentally, and I love that.”

Magelky plans on returning for another Classic and Ochs has no intention of changing the course.

“This one is sticking, this is who we are, Crested Butte at its finest,” says Ochs.

12th Annual Crested Butte Classic Results


Name Overall Time Distance/Time

Kelly Magelky12:02:20

Mike McAuley12:13:45

Seth Morrison12:58:50

John Todd Mallow13:59:00

Matt Whiting15:09:18

Shawn Gregory15:25:45

Jefe Branham15:52:00

John Malloy16:41:21

Josh Bezecny 86 miles/10:25

Sean Van Horn 83 miles/12:40

Laura Puckett 83 miles/14:35

Margaret Fitch 77 miles/14:20

Claire Mechtly 77 miles/14:20

Chris Hanna 53 miles/7:15

David Ochs 53 miles/7:15

Jim Crossland 53 miles/8:00

Josh Stahl 53 miles/10:49

Dan Hickstein 53 miles/10:49

Katie Newbury 38 miles/6:41

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