Day 6 - Trail 401 / Deer Creek Trails - Mountain bike rides

Crested Butte, CO

I had great nights sleep in a very comfortable bed. Also as Gunnison is at just the right altitude that you don't get affected by altitude, i.e. no restless nights or dry throats. Where as when i've stayed in Crested Butte before I have been affected by the altitude there. I had some breakfast with Tom and Courtney, as the weather forecast for the Monarch Crest wasn't too good, they decided to work today. So I drove up to Crested Butte to go and ride Trail 401.
The weather wasn't looking too great up towards trail 401 with some big dark clouds hanging over the valley.
On the way up to trail 401 I passed a few people riding Mountain bikes, its a fairly long drive from Crested Butte to trail 401 - I wouldn't like to blow all that energy riding a dirt road. When there so much singletrack to be ridden around here.
I parked at the lower 401 trail head car park, It was quite cold so I put on my warmer cycling gear. And then set off on the dirt road at around 11.15am, this was a mistake, what I should have done was was ride up the hill on the right and do the lower section of trail 401 first and then get onto the road higher up. As it rides better that way.
The ride up the dirt road was quite a slog, I picked a gear I could spin in and slowly climbed up, the thin air made it quite a tough climb. Because it had rained the night before , when vehicles went past I didn't get clouds of dust choking me which was good.
As I got further up the road the dark clouds started to disperse, high up on the mountain slopes I spotted some riders on trail 401 above me.
I reached the start of trail 401 at Schofield Pass @ 10707 ft after about an hour of climbing at 12.15. I then started to head up trail 401 at times due to the steepness of the trail and the sticky mud in places I had to do some hike a bike when my rear tyre didn't get enough traction.
After climbing fairly steeply up switch backs the trail broke out into Alpine meadows, the views were great.
The trail continued to climb upwards through the meadows until I reached the highpoint at 11333ft
And then the trail started to head down the side of the valley, the trail was great - quite narrow and fast and was in pretty good shape, even with cows roaming around in the meadows.
There was only one unrideable section of trail - where the trail had been washed out in a gully.
There weren't to many wild flowers still blooming, But by visiting in September at least there weren't any Horse Flies or afternoon thunder storms to worry about.
There was a brilliant section of the trail where is switch backed down through an Aspen glade - Aspen riding is just sublime. I was over taken here while setting up my tripod by a couple of riders from England who i chatted to briefly.
At around 14:00 I reached the point where the trail started to climb again. There were a lot more cow pies on the trail, and lots of cows roaming around.

There were some good sections of trail along this way , but It would definitely ride better ridden the other way. There was quite a bit of double track / fire road on this section of 401. After quite a bit of climbing the trail dropped down, and then a lot of altitude was lost on a dirt road. I got back to the car at about 15.15 having ridden about 15 miles .

According to Topo using my GPS track I had climbed 2575 ft and lost 2578 ft

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Trail 401 Video (Flash Player)

I had to get back to Tom and Courtney's for for 6pm as they were having some friends round and they had invited me to join them. But as I still had some time left I decided to ride some of the Deer Creek Trail as an out and back ride. I drove to the start of the trail, then roade along a dirt road before riding up through some grassy meadows to the trail as it headed up through the Aspen, In places I had to hike a bike up the trail as it was quite steep, and the cows had churned up the surface too much.
The trail leveled out a bit and then countered along the side of the slope. The view very great and the trail was narrow. It was a lot warmer along this trail compared to when I started trail 401 in the morning.
The trail alternated between open sections in meadows and through Alpine Groves.
On the open sections of trail I had to choose my line , as there were loads of these large bugs on the trail which seem 'd to be laying eggs and I didn't want to squash any of them.
As I had a deadline to get back to Gunnison I had turn around sooner that I would have liked, and I headed back. The sections of the trail through the Aspen were brilliant, with gravity on my side it was all ride able and was a fun blast.
I got back to the car at about 5pm and packed up and started to head back to Gunnison. The Deer Creek Trail had been fun - I'll definitely come back and ride the while trail the next time I visit Crested Butte

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DeerCreek Trail Video (Flash Player)

I stopped off at the Alpineer in Crested Butte and got my self some Sugoi bike shorts and some trousers with 40% off in their end of season sale. I then drove back to Gunnison and had a fun evening in with Tom & Courtney and their friends as Tom did a presentation on a mountain bike trip they had done to Peru a few weeks ago. Their trip looked pretty full on and dangerous. Courtney cooked up some really tasty chicken for us all to eat.

Click here for Day 7