Rodeo went out and road tripped most of last week at the Pro Cycling Challenge and we had a blast riding our bikes, cheering the pros, handing out nuggets, and generally turning the adventure dial up to “11”.
One of the stand out experiences of the trip though was a last minute adventure on Crested Butte’s legendary 401 Trail. The 401 is constantly ranked as one of the most beautiful trails in the world, and we hadn’t ridden it at all this year. That shameful reality needed to be rectified.
The Pro Challenge rolled through Crested Butte Tuesday afternoon on the heels of a massive Colorado mountain thunderstorm. As myself and Glenn drove into town we didn’t have any ride plans. We wanted to ride SOMETHING but Glenn only had his mountain bike and I “only” had Trail Donkey – mounted up with slick road tires. As the 401 Trail crept into our heads I decided to scour some local shops for knobby cyclocross tires of any brand or type with which to attempt the trail. Selection was slim but after coming up empty at the first few shops I checked, I found a single shop selling some Clement PDX cyclocross tires. Beggars can’t be choosers so I snapped up the tires, threw them on the Donkey, and kitted up. I only had road shoes and pedals with me, which were not ideal for a MTB ride, but again the choice was to do the trail with the gear I had or not do it at all. On went the smurf shoes and off we went.
For me riding this trail on Trail Donkey is another milestone for the bike (and for the wheels!). The previous day the bike had taken me on a fantastic 80 mile road ride up Independence Pass and the Maroon Bells, and today it would take me on a trail ride. That’s what Donkey is about: Versatility and diversity in adventure.
But back to the 401…
Because of the rain that had just passed through Crested Butte most people had fled for the safety of the indoors. The roads were wet and the light would disappear in a couple of hours, so Glenn and I had to hurry. The upside to all of this was that we had everything to ourselves. The 401 can get quite crowded on a weekend, but on a late Tuesday afternoon after a thunderstorm the odds of finding solitude are high.
What followed that evening was one of the most beautiful rides I’ve ever done. I’m stoked that we got to sneak it in and I’m thankful that I had a willing accomplice to share the trail with. The 401 Trail should be on any dirt riders bucket list. The serene ride up the valley to the trailhead builds with expectation, and after the summit of the climb is gained the final reveal of the valley below is a very special view that will stick with you for the rest of your life.