Montage of Photographs

The Crested Butte Classic 100

My aborted attempt in 2006--the best ride I ever failed to finish!

This 100-miler is renowned for its beauty, difficulty, the quality of riders who traditionally do it, and the bargain price of the entry fee. It's free.

I've always wanted to do it, and in 2006 I connected the dots. I borrowed a condo so I could actually shower and sleep in a bed afterwords, drove over the afternoon before from Salida, forgot to bring my beloved Hammer Nutrition products, and showed up in time but without the one bottle of HEED I actually had available (left it at the condo).

Wow, what a course. It doesn't start to hurt right away. At first you have the very do-able Strand Hill climb and then back down singletrack to Brush Creek. Fun! Then climbing up into Deer Creek. It begins hurting. Then the Deer Creek trail. Ow. Just a little pain. And a few bugs.

By the time I finished the first lap, I was feeling mortal. Goofy even. I hooked up with a couple guys who knew the course, which was handy, because my map-reading skills were suffering along with my lungs. Then we hit the "Alp d'Huez" of Crested Butte. Up the Slate River Road to the intersection of 403. Oy vey. Little tweaty birds were circling my head.

Down the lovely and amazing 403. Oh, what a trail. But at the bottom, some real trouble began.

I really love CB, but you know, I don't really like the tourismos who constantly drive up and down the Schofield Pass road through Gothic. The day of the CB100 I hated them. The fine red dust of CB was not what my lungs wanted. Pure oxygen. Maybe a little laughing gas. But not dust. Some of those idiots literally just drove up to Emerald Lake, turned right around and drove back down. *^#&@*$&!

My opinion of the whole dang thing hit a low point a few minutes before I got to Schofield. Once I got onto 401, even the climby part, things were better. When I got to this bit things were much better:

When I got back down to that damned road and slogged back to the lovely little town it was perhaps 4 PM. Rainclouds were hanging about, but that's not my excuse. I was done. I was stir-fried. I did not have any bang left. I dropped, got back to my condo, and just laid on the bed with chest heaving for perhaps an hour, drinking cold gatoraide.

The ride is hard. In my opinion, two laps of the CB100 is as hard as all of the Leadville course. And the best news about my involvement in this thing was that it shoved my fitness to a new level. I was strong when I finished this bad boy. The fitness boost I got from 2 laps of this thing helped me be so ready for Leadville. My endurance felt bottomless after that day.

I intend to go back next year, and I'm going to pace myself. And I will seriously have a particle mask for the Schofield Pass climb.

©Tom Purvis, 2007-2012