There were quite a few naysayers when it came to taking the single speeds to Crested Butte. From the local shop guys to others who have ridden there a good bit, they said it's rare to do it and will be too damn hard. But, like anything, you need to take this various information and digest it, everyone's perspective being different. Besides, I don't own any multi-geared bikes so it's not like I had a choice.
In the end, I had to walk a few sections, but so what? The geared guys were pretty much walking the same stuff since it was usually billy-goat style steep. And, if once or twice I had to jump off earlier than them I was still making it to the top before them in most cases anyway, so it all works out, eh? I'd say we definitely turned a few heads and changed a few minds. We even got a nice "Single Speed Freaks!" shout-out from some hikers as we bombed some killer bench-cut singletrack.
There were some long, hard climbs but I had fun and won't even think about bringing a different bike back. Some of the hills conqured may have been more because of true grit than pure muscle. Who knows, but the end result is the same. Just remember, Crested Butte was one of the early MTB hotbeds back when clunkers were the bike of choice. Sure, derailluers were eventully grafted to those frames to make getting up the hills easier, but it didn't start that way. It started with those one speed bikes and some mountains.
On another note, big thanks to the staff at The Alpineer in Crested Butte and Over The Edge Sports in Fruita. Both shops took good care of us from providing trail info to handling the shipping/receiving of our bikes. Support them if you are in town and buy them a beer while you're at it.
Sleep Tight //
Wednesday - June 29, 2005
My camp site for 4 days in Crested Butte.
Tuesday - June 28, 2005
One day in Fruita last week, on a long ride, midday, hot summer sun, a water bottle is lost. We are getting occasionally lost on our route, lots of trail intersections. You can follow the main line pretty well, and usually stay on it but sometimes things aren't crystal clear. We are supposed to basically follow the rim of a canyon for miles before looping it back around, completing a big lollipop. The description on the map says "The mileage is big and the technical nature make it much bigger. Yet to the fit rider this epic challenge is a true gem".
The rim snakes and twists and after a while it's easy to lose your bearings in an unfamiliar place. When the water bottle is lost, I am not happy. I know every ounce of fluid is vital out here. Plus we started 2 hours later than intended meaning our ride is taking place in the hottest part of the day. It's not my bottle that is lost, but that doesn't matter. We are a team. Friends, fellow riders. It is not every man for himself. There is little shade out there and certainly no water and we honestly have no idea how long it will take to complete the ride. Especially if we take a wrong turn.
In the end we get back safe and sound, everyone fine. But things could easily turn out different with a major mechanical or a spill causing an injury and keeping you out much longer than anticipated. This was all brought to horrifying reality when I returned and saw this story about a family riding about an hour west of where we were during the same week. Same type of conditions. And seemingly prepared. It's a heartbreaking story of a young MTBer who didn't make it.
There's been quite a few people on rides I've been on lately who have run out of water. And the conditions fortunately haven't been in the desert, but we've been on all day epics in scorching temperatures with high humidity. Don't underestimate Mother Nature. Better to carry that extra water weight than to try and run light.
Back To The Real World //
Monday - June 27, 2005
What a blast. Great weather in both Crested Butte and Fruita. Here's a few quick pix until I finish digging 8 days worth of riding dirt from under my fingernails, clean the gear and do some laundry. The trip was stellar but it was great to get back and see my wife again and sleep in a real bed instead of a sleeping bag. Some words and more pictures later this week as I catch up on things.