In the Saddle: The Butte buzz
CRESTED BUTTE My endorphins remain stuck in overdrive after a weekend journey to Crested Butte.That town might be the most idyllic place on the planet at this time of year. There were cyclists everywhere: Recreational riders like us filled the glorious single-tracks and covered the backcountry access roads; everyone from old grannies heading home from a Sunday farmers market to young studs on a night on the town moseyed around on wild-colored cruiser bikes; and gung-ho racers grunted through a 100-mile mountain course Saturday.The vibe downtown on Elk Avenue was a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of Main Street in Aspen or even Midland Avenue in Basalt. There were so many people on bikes that motorists couldn’t afford to be impatient and pushy. Crested Butte works its charm and entices everyone to adopt the laid-back pace.My friend Bob and I got a late start Friday night but found a nice camp spot on Kebler Pass at about 11 p.m. When we found it bug-free, I couldn’t resist sleeping open-air under the star-filled sky.We took our time getting into town and made our way up to Gothic, where we parked and rode the Schofield Pass Road, then hooked into Trail 401 – one of the classic routes of the Colorado high country. Thankfully, the unrelenting climb was made slightly easier because of trail conditions. Despite 401’s popularity, the dirt wasn’t pulverized into powder. It was tamped down into a surface perfect for climbing.Sunday we took the advice of a bike shop owner and tackled the Dyke Trail out of the Lake Irwin area. The loop requires seven or so miles of travel on Kebler Pass Road. That’s only doable when, like Sunday, the gravel road is matted down with a thick coat of dried magnesium chloride to eliminate the dust.The list of what went right over the weekend was long – topped by fresh beer at the Idle Spur. There was only one bummer in the Butte: The deer flies were ungodly in parts of the backcountry. We’re not talking merely inconvenient, we’re talking unbearable. But, hey, if it was perfect, everybody would be there.
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