3 Favorite Mountain Bike Rides in the Gunnison Region

A Crested Butte resident, Brittany Walker Konsella is an explorer and adventurer at heart.  She became the second woman to ski all of Colorado’s fourteen-thousand foot peaks in 2011 so it was only natural for her to be drawn into the TrailQuest Challenge.  In 2017, Brittany co-authored Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes: Colorado with her husband, Frank Konsella. Brittany continues to build her life around exploring and experiencing the outdoors through hiking, mountain biking, and skiing and she writes about those experiences on 14erskiers.com.

As the seasons change and the riding becomes less and less appealing in Crested Butte due to rain and snow, we begin to focus on mountain biking in the desert. When Coloradans think about “desert riding”, Fruita or Moab are two of the main areas that first come to mind. But, Gunnison has its own share of desert riding which can easily rival these aforementioned destinations.

In terms of TrailQuest, the Gunnison region is geographically one of the smallest of the contest. The northern boundary lies a couple of miles south of Almont, the southern and western boundaries stretch enough to just squeeze in all of the Hartman Rocks Recreation Area, and the eastern boundary meets the edge of the Fossil Ridge Recreation area. Essentially, the two main places for riding in the Gunnison region are Hartman Rocks and Signal Peak.

Though both Signal Peak and Hartman Rocks are managed by the BLM, both offer different high desert experiences. Located just northeast of Western Colorado University, Signal Peak refers to a mass of foothills that lead their way up to the Sawatch Range. This diverse area has some sparse pine and aspen, surrounded by a lot of sage. The soil tends to be very loose and gravely and sometimes contains larger loose rock. The terrain at Hartman Rocks, on the other hand, is a bit more similar to what people envision when they talk about “desert riding” – lots of sandy soil with fun granite features to ride over from time to time. Hartman’s is also covered in sage, with occasional aspen in the mix.

The riding in both areas is top notch. I especially like to ride in these areas during the shoulder seasons. But, they also make great alternatives in the summer on cooler days or when it might be raining elsewhere. (more…)

Trailquest Advice from the First Finisher

A Crested Butte resident, Brittany Walker Konsella is an explorer and adventurer at heart.  She became the second woman to ski all of Colorado’s fourteen-thousand foot peaks in 2011 so it was only natural for her to be drawn into the TrailQuest Challenge.  In 2017, Brittany co-authored Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes: Colorado with her husband, Frank Konsella. Brittany continues to build her life around exploring and experiencing the outdoors through hiking, mountain biking, and skiing and she writes about those experiences on 14erskiers.com.

A week and a half ago, I became the first person to complete TrailQuest, a challenge to ride 750+ unique miles in the areas surrounding Crested Butte, Gunnison, Paonia, and Crawford. As a natural explorer and goal-setter, I easily gravitated toward this ambitious challenge.

Some say that challenges like this aren’t for everyone. But, I beg to differ. A goal like this can be achieved by anyone with reasonable athletic fitness, a positive mindset, and a drive to accomplish something big. Long-term goals like this stretch both your body and your mind. It’s not about training for a single race and then finishing on top. In fact, it’s not really about a race at all. No trail times matter here. All that matters is that you finish what you started.

My TrailQuest journey took me two bike seasons, generally spanning from June to September/October. Can it be done in a year? Certainly. But, the person who will do this will likely not hold a full time job. For many, this goal will span two years or more. And that’s what makes this long-term goal so great. Too many of us focus on goals that are achievable in the near future. But, goals that span over years are more rewarding in the end.

Me on my finishing Trailquest day

Me on my finishing Trailquest day

While earning my TrailQuest miles, I picked up a few tips along the way that I thought I would pass on to those TrailQuest seekers who follow. Here’s some tidbits of advice:

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My Love Affair with Hartman Rocks

At Hartman Rocks, you can pick up about 40 miles of singletrack riding towards the 750+ total unique miles in the Gunnison Valley. I think that makes it the most dense location for picking up miles in the entire Valley, and the miles themselves are pretty fun across the board. Learn more about TrailQuest, our unique miles challenge, at mtbhome.com/trailquest.

This past April, I set out to ride 150+ miles on my bike. That was a fairly ambitious monthly total for someone with a full-time job living in a climate that often delivers a wintry mix throughout the month of April. It was even more ambitious because I didn’t want to skip any of my normal workouts at the gym and I was coming off many, many months of not riding my bike due to a broken shoulder (clavicle AND scapula) last September.

POV from bike on a desert trail at Hartman Rocks

An early season ride on a day the clouds were moving in.

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3 Favorite Rides in the Continental Divide / Monarch Pass Region

A Crested Butte resident, Brittany Walker Konsella is an explorer and adventurer at heart.  She became the second woman to ski all of Colorado’s fourteen-thousand foot peaks in 2011 so it was only natural for her to be drawn into the TrailQuest Challenge.  In 2017, Brittany co-authored Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes: Colorado with her husband, Frank Konsella. Brittany continues to build her life around exploring and experiencing the outdoors through hiking, mountain biking, and skiing and she writes about those experiences on 14erskiers.com.

 
Over the last two years, Frank and I have been doing our best to chip away at TrailQuest – a challenge to ride 750+ miles of trails surrounding the Crested Butte and Gunnison area. Aside from giving us a fun goal to work toward, TrailQuest has also given us a reason to explore trails where we have not yet traveled. Even in areas familiar to us, we were able to seek out trails new to us.

When people think of the mountain biking options on Monarch Pass, the classic Monarch Crest, Silver Creek Trail and Rainbow Trail come to mind. Those who have ventured on alternative routes may also envision Fooses, Greens Creek and Starvation Creek trails. But less people are aware of the fabulous trails that lie just to the west of Monarch Pass / Continental Divide. (more…)

5 Reasons to Attend Outerbike in Mt. Crested Butte

Pivot Firebird 29 near Baldy LakeOuterbike in Mt. Crested Butte is just a few short weeks away. Arguably the best bike demo in the universe, it’s also a great weekend to explore the mountains of Crested Butte.

Here are our top 5 reasons to make tracks for Mt. Crested Butte August 17-19, 2018.
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3 Favorite Rides in the Needle Creek Trail Area

A Crested Butte resident, Brittany Walker Konsella is an explorer and adventurer at heart.  She became the second woman to ski all of Colorado’s fourteen-thousand foot peaks in 2011 so it was only natural for her to be drawn into the TrailQuest Challenge.  In 2017, Brittany co-authored Backcountry Ski and Snowboard Routes: Colorado with her husband, Frank Konsella. Brittany continues to build her life around exploring and experiencing the outdoors through hiking, mountain biking, and skiing and she writes about those experiences on 14erskiers.com.

 
Once upon a time, my husband Frank and I thought we had ridden everything worth riding in and around Crested Butte /Gunnison. We’d ridden hundreds of miles of trails, and definitely found ourselves off the beaten path on numerous occasions. But, the TrailQuest Challenge showed us that we still had many more miles to explore, and we’ve been finding out that many of these miles are surely worth the ride.

Focused on trails near Gunnison Valley, TrailQuest originally began as a challenge to ride the 750+ miles of non-Wilderness trails that encompass a specific area. Since then, other smaller challenges have been created, like a Bike Week TrailQuest, a 4th of July Week TrailQuest, and an Outerbike Week TrailQuest. But the ultimate challenge is still the 750+ unique miles of non-Wilderness trails, which is likely a multi-year goal for most people. (more…)

Ride Report: Agate Creek

4th of july parade in crested butte4th of July 2018 started off like most others in Crested Butte. A bit of traffic, a funky and fresh parade, and then an escape into the backcountry. Shortly before the end of the parade, and before we got doused in the massive waterfight that ensues, my friend Shaw and I loaded our bikes and struck out for the Crest for a ride down Agate Creek.

An hour or so later we were dropping bikes at the top, and I drove the truck back down to set the shuttle with a short hitchhike. Once I locked up the truck it took all of five minutes for one of US 50’s many travelers to pull over and get me back to the top. Pretty spectacular, and some very nice people as well.
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Ride Report: Hartman Rocks Season Opener 2018

Yes, Hartman Rocks has been open since March 15, but as hard as I’ve tried, it was only yesterday evening that I was able to squeak in a ride. The whole impetus for getting me down there was to shoot some video with Gunnison Trails’ executive director, Tim Kugler. So thank you Tim for giving me an excuse to duck away from the computer and put some miles in.

By the way, that video covers a whole lot in the realm of Hartman’s current closures, which trails are in good shape, and which ones you should avoid for a little while longer. If you’re interested, you can watch it below.


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Fat Biking Crested Butte & Gunnison – Trails for Every Rider

Disclaimer: Some of these routes pass through or under avalanche terrain and users should review the CBAC report and bring proper gear before venturing into avalanche terrain.

Crested Butte is no doubt a mecca of mountain biking. It has been since the very first days of the sport. Sitting at 8,909 feet above sea level, surrounded by mountains that get an average of 217 inches of snowfall, it’s also a world-class ski destination. But if the menu is two wheels instead of two planks, what to do? Fat bikes are the answer.

Of course fat biking is fun at any time in CB, but those wide tires really come into their own when Old Man Winter has blown on through. Coloradoans, and especially CB locals, are a hardy lot. They fully embrace snow. It’s a big reason they live there, so there are no shortages of places to ride when the trails turn white.

There are two types of trails in the winter: user compacted and professionally groomed. Compacted trails could be from hikers/snowshoers, Nordic skiers, snow mobiles, etc., they’ll tend to be more rugged and possibly more difficult, but riders have a better chance of avoiding crowds. Groomed trails are perfect for beginners or those who just want to spin.

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Of course fat biking is fun at any time in CB, but those wide tires really come into their own when Old Man Winter has blown on through.

Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association/Gunnison-Crested Butte

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#OneGoodRide Instagram Roundup September 2017

It’s peak foliage in the Gunnison Valley this week and riding season is at its apex. Most of us locals love this time of year because of the beauty and fewer crowds. The past month has been incredibly busy with Outerbike coming to town, the Big Mountain Enduro finals, and the Pearl Pass Tour heading to Aspen and back for its 41st year. This will be our last #OneGoodRide Roundup for the season, but that doesn’t mean the riding is over yet. Fingers crossed we’ll get another year like last and we can ride the high alpine all the way into November.

@laurelelin

@laurelelin instagram roundup
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