In the Saddle: Biting beasties can’t ruin ride |

In the Saddle: Biting beasties can’t ruin ride

Bob Ward
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

CRESTED BUTTE, Colo. ” At least once a summer, I try to visit Crested Butte for the sole purpose of riding singletrack.

Mountain biking in the Colorado Rockies is excellent by definition, no matter where you do it. But CB is in a league of its own, with untold miles of singletrack trails that wind through vast aspen forests, shady spruce groves and fields of wildflowers. And with the town itself positioned at 9,000 feet and surrounded by big peaks and ridges, virtually every trail within striking distances guarantees big views, steep climbs, raging descents and a feeling at the end that you’ve been somewhere and accomplished something.

The weekend of July 19-20 was graced with blue skies and unusually warm temperatures for the Butte; it was great riding weather without a significant threat of lightning or thundershowers, but apparently conditions were also perfect for the deer flies, which swarmed us every time we stopped.

There’s arguably an advantage to having these nasty, biting beasties lying in wait on backcountry hillsides: They keep you moving and lend a sense of urgency to your forward progress ” and that’s a good thing when you’re spending 4 to 5 hours in the saddle.

On the other hand, these detestable pests are like flying midget-badgers. Their bites hurt, sometimes draw blood and leave red, itchy welts on your skin. They can even penetrate a lightweight biking jersey. Bug juice discourages some, but not nearly all. And if you miss a spot with your DEET, expect a stinging collection of lumps to rise there.

That said, the evil insects didn’t spoil our time. Few things except mechanical failures, injuries or running out of water can ruin a high-velocity descent on buffed singletrack, or one of those uniquely Crested Butte traverses, bumping and grinding through mixed aspen and meadows of wildflowers up around 11,000 feet.

Even the best mountain towns have a few nasty locals. In Crested Butte, they have wings, patterned brown bodies and big, colored eyes.

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