Southwest Colorado Places

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Crested Butte

Mountain Biking

Crested Butte is the mountain biking center of Colorado. This is a place where there are more bikes than cars, and probably more bikes than residents. Many locals own two: a cruiser (or "townie") for hacking around and a mountain bike for serious hacking around. Nearby Pearl Pass is known as the route that got the fat-tire craze started. After a group of motorcyclists rode the rough old road from Aspen to Crested Butte, a few of the town's cyclists decided to do the same ride in reverse. They hopped onto their clunky two-wheelers—a far cry from today's sophisticated machinery—and with that, the sport had arrived. The 40-mile round-trip trek over Pearl Pass can be done in a day, but it's tough, and you must be in excellent condition and acclimatized to the elevation.

Strand Hill. Starting southeast of town along Brush Creek Road, Strand Hill Trail is about 6 miles out and back. It includes a 900-foot climb on a double-track road followed by a twisting, roller-coaster-like single-track descent that will leave you feeling exhilarated. Brush Creek Rd., Crested Butte, CO.

Upper Loop. Great for beginners, the Upper Loop is a popular 1½-mile ride that will help orient you to the area. The views up the Slate River valley to the peaks of Paradise Divide are wonderful. Tony's Trail consists of a short, moderate climb leading to an intersection with the Upper Upper Loop Trail. Here you can take in the view of the town below and the mountains above, then enjoy a fun descent back down or venture further in either direction on the Upper Upper Loop. Crested Butte, CO, 81224.

Tours and Outfitters

The Alpineer. This shop prides itself on having the latest gear and a staff knowledgeable enough to get you on the right bike and trail as quickly as possible. 419 6th St., Crested Butte, CO, 81224. 970/349–5210. www.alpineer.com.

Big Al's Bicycle Heaven. This downtown shop, a favorite with locals, sells and rents all manner of two-wheelers, from knock-around "townies" to state-of-the-art mountain bikes. The shop also carries road and cross-country bikes and a full line of clothing, helmets, and other necessities. 207 Elk Ave., Crested Butte, CO, 81224. 970/349–0515. www.bigalsbicycleheaven.com.

Crested Butte Mountain Guides. Experienced riders can take overnight tours (with meals, lodging, and transportation) starting at $175 per person, per day. 218 Maroon Ave., Crested Butte, CO, 81224. 970/349–5430. www.crestedbutteguides.com.

Festivals

Crested Butte Bike Week. Each summer, mountain-biking enthusiasts roll in for Crested Butte Bike Week, the country's longest-running mountain-bike festival. The event, held in late June, is a solid week of racing, touring, silly competitions, and mountain-biker bonding. Crested Butte, CO. 970/349–6438. www.cbbikeweek.com.

Rentals

Crested Butte Sports. Come here to rent Cannondale mountain bikes, plus helmets and other gear. It also has a full repair shop. 35 Emmons Loop Rd., Crested Butte, CO, 81225. 970/349–7516 or 800/970–9704. www.crestedbuttesports.com.

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