Crested Butte, Colorado is one of my favorite places to visit during the summer. The mountain biking is world class, the camping is awesome, and there’s so much to explore. I have been racing in CB for the past 5 years and always look forward to the next. The Fat Tire 40 is a race that starts at 9,900ft at the Mt. Crested Butte Resort. Racing 40 miles mostly above 10,000ft is not easy, but it sure is beautiful.
Lauren and I rolled into camp around 7pm on Friday night, just in time to go for a quick spin up Snodgrass Trail to make sure my new Sram derailleur was dialed in and my new Continental tires were seated and sealed. My old roommate, Brad, from AZ came out to join us for the weekend festivities. Lauren cooked up some dinner while Brad and I rode. Pasta! We hit the hay pretty early because it was going to be an early morning with an 8am start. It was Poncho’s first time camping and he was a little nervous. He probably didn’t sleep at all, but only woke us up a few times.
It was cold at 6am when we rolled out of bed and headed to the coffee shop. My moka pot isn’t working so cooking at camp was not an option. By the time 7:40 came around it had warmed up a bit, but I hadn’t even gotten on the bike yet! I was trying to stay relaxed and make sure I had everything dialed in… tire pressure, nutrition, grape nuun, sunblock, clean sunglasses, new ergon gloves, co2, tube, tool, sram power link, one more sip of coffee and a kiss from Lauren… typical race prep. Now all I had to do was pedal damn it!
I pedaled from the parking lot to the start/finish and the announcer called out “Pro men, first call to staging”. Perfect timing! I got a spot on the line next to local, Travis Scheefer (Alpine Orthopedics) and was checking out his brand new carbon 29er. This guy has been rocking the 26” fully forever. I was excited for him to join the big revolution! I was also worried about him getting even faster on big wheels.
The race started out up a paved climb for 2ish miles before hitting tight single track that climbed to the top of the mountain. I sat in 5th wheel most of the climb until Jay Henry (Tokyo Joe’s) came by. I rode his wheel to the top and into the first section of the descent where I made my move. I was off the front and bombing down the trail, feeling great and trying to recover from the effort on the first climb. 30 seconds into it, I hear someone rolling up on me quick. Mike West (Yeti) was charging, super D style. I let him by and tried to stay with him. I hung on for a bit, but he was gone. It was a long first descent with little punchy climbs and technical rock gardens. When we popped out onto a fire road section, the spectators told me West had put 3 minutes into me. I put my head down and tried to catch him on the climb. When we got to Strand Hill, Brian Smith (Alpine Orthopedics and Growler winner), Henry and one other dude formed a chase to reel in West. We never caught him.
The course was incredible. If you have ridden in CB, you know what I’m talking about! Tight, twisty singletrack through the aspens with lush hillsides covered with lupine and dandelions. Lots of creek crossings, some of them quite deep and COLD! It was a warm day though and the snowmelt actually felt refreshing. I managed to hang on for third place and am pretty happy with that. It always feels good to get up on the podium after a hard earned finish.
Sunday, was the girlfriend ride with the doggies and camera. It was fun to spin out the legs and take in the scenery, too bad the camera died half way through. We also strolled the CB farmers market and of course, hit the bike shops. That afternoon/evening we hiked up to Meridian Lake to see if we could get Poncho to take a swim. This is a great spot… there is a canoe that lives on the shore and is for anyone’s use. We loaded up the dogs, fly rod and a couple cold ones and paddled out. It was a super relaxing way to end the day – kind of a bummer that I didn’t catch anything for dinner. Back at camp we cooked hot dogs on the fire with my buddy Firsty who joined us for some camping, and finished off the night with some smores.
Monday morning, Firsty and I went out for a ride at Doctor’s Park. This was a new one for both of us and it far exceeded my expectations. I’m talking 30+ minutes of descending at high speeds thru the aspens. It was incredible… a great ending to a long, fun weekend. We made it home with just enough daylight to mow the yard.