2011 Crested Butte

2011 Crested Butte Vacation, 2011/07/08 to 2011/07/18

All pictures available here:
http://gtluke.smugmug.com/Vacation/2011-Crested-Butte

Where to start….

2011/07/08 Departure

Okay group vacation to Crested Butte Colorado. Our vacation starts on July 8th 2011. After work my wife Maria and I pack our things and head to Newark airport. We get there on time and with little fanfare we get our bags checked. I was expecting some problems because Eileen flew out the day previous and they tried to charge her $100 to take her bike because it was a bike, yet it was in an approved “luggage” sized box. Our other checked bag is actually oversized, but they didn’t notice. It’s hard to tell since it’s a giant rolling duffle bag. Here’s my bike in it’s box on the oversized cart. It’s not oversized, but Newark makes me put it on the cart since it’s too awkward for the conveyor. The box was 49lbs, 50lbs max. Our other bag was 48.5lbs. ha

Flight gets delayed, and delayed, and delayed. 4 hours delayed. I think we take off at like 10:30pm, we were supposed to leave at 7:30. Uneventful flight, thankfully I packed 4 penut butter and jelly sandwiches, Continental makes you pay for awful food now. Still free diet coke though.

We land in Denver, luggage is already on the carousel by the time we get there and we lug our crap to the bus to the rental car place. Upon arrival I bask in the glory of National Rental Car Emerald Isle service. I can choose any car in this huge lot that I want, all the same price. I quick google some MPG numbers and wind up taking a brand new Dodge Dakota. In hindsight, I should have taken a full size v8 F150 since the altitude and awful Dodgeness of this Dodge caused it to get crap mileage and it was constantly hunting for the right gear and screaming up the mountains. The v8 would have probably netted better MPG. Truck was great though, we pulled into the hotel I pricelined for $40, a Fairfield Inn by the airport. I shoved my bike box in the back seat (fold up seats!) and we crashed out for the night.

2011/07/09 Departing Denver for Crested Butte

Woke up in the morning and since my wife takes a decade to get ready, I showered, ate their free breakfast and put my bike together in the parking lot. Took like 20 minutes. But I was getting texts from everyone and I had my phone on the bed of the truck, and then I knocked it off, and it hit the ground, bad. It didn’t bounce, skip, or slide. Just a thud right on the corner. Cracked the screen really bad :( It’s a touch screen phone and with a cracked screen (digitizer) I cant’ use the phone. CRAP. I popped the Sim card out an threw it in my 7″ android tablet running Cyanogenmod 7, so it actually functioned like a phone instead of a tab. I could make phone calls from it (speakerphone) but more importantly I could text from it and not be stranded without a data connection to the rest of the world ;)

So on we go to Crested Butte. A few hours into the ride we find a way to hook up with Tim, Ashley, and Eileen who were on the other side of town with a friend of Tim’s the night before. We met on the side of the road somewhere and exchanged some greetings and carried on. Up and over some massive mountains before finally arriving in Crested Butte almost 5 hours later. We arrive at the condo we rented, unpack some things, I help Eileen put her bike together, and we decide it’s food time.

Me helping Eileen put her bike together

But first Tim and I find some cowboy hats and pose for pictures

At some point Ashley’s friend Allison joins us, another doctor! So now we have an emergency room physician and an Army trained Surgeon doctor, I feel so safe! We all pile into Tim’s minivan he rented and head to town (we goin-a TOWN!). Had some much needed Mexican food at Donita’s, I got the steak fajitas.  We do some exploring and notice that this is the gringo Mexican food capital of the world. I am very happy. Tim gets his rental bike from the bike shop and Ashley picks up her UPS’ed bike also. Here’s what “Town” looks like.

 

We go back to our place and crash for the night.

The next morning we wake up early and get ready for the bike ride. We ended up waiting around for about 2 hours for Tim to find his eyedrops and for Ashley to figure out how to put on every single piece of biking clothing known to man all at once. I think she was wearing an entire bike store. There were base layers, rain layers, regular layers, toe covers, neoprene booties, cliff bars, hammer gels, shot blox…

We eventually take off and drive to town and park in the “4 way stop” parking lot. I’m absolutely enamored by the awesome cars in town. A 1st gen International Scout parked next to a 2nd gen International Scout. I’m blown away.

2011/07/10 Crested Butte Upper Upper and Strand Bonus

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/98324317

So we take off, following Allison who thankfully fully understands how to read a map and lead a ride, I’m very happy it’s not my job to do that this week. About 90 seconds into the ride Ashley realizes that she has too many layers on. Who would have thought that 3 layers in July was too much?

We get up to the Upper Upper trailhead, which was already after a 1,000 ft climb, and we are now at over 9k feet. Breathing is painful and pretty much doesn’t do anything. You just keep breathing and nothing is happening, heart rate pinned, not going anywhere, can’t catch your breath… Or maybe the scenery was just breathtaking?

At the bottom of Upper Upper we regroup, and head out to Strand

Allison enjoying the ride

I stop for a minute and check out this screwed up fox. I’m not sure what’s wrong with it, but it’s not good.

The wildflowers are ridiculous

We eventually get to a stream crossing. At first we think we can cross it, but that was only half

But here’s a video of the 2nd half. No way were we going to get across that without dying.

So we turned around and tried to go around another way, only to be confronted by another crossing. This one is just annoying, but not dangerous. So we decide to walk across.

Here is Eileen and I forging the river

Here’s Tim showing us that rusted bearings on a rental bike are no big deal.

We eventually get up Strand Bonus and enjoy that

And then we finish up that ride and head back to town.

Tim and Eileen back at the car

We split up and Maria Ashley and Allison go get some food for the week/night and the rest of us head back to the condo. Eileen and Tim die on the couch and start watching old westerns.

Here’s the view off our porch from that night. I have some serious dust inside my camera. It’s going back to Nikon for a real cleaning soon, I can’t get that dust out at all.

Here’s the view from the Canadian Tuxedo couch

The other group came back from town with some fresh steaks and chicken and some salad and we pigged out on that for dinner. Allison’s friend Ann (Anne?) joined us for dinner. We checked out her dirtbiking videos from that day and got some cool stories from her living in Hawaii, which is how she knows Allison who was stationed there in the Army.

At some point we all just passed out, long first day.

2011/07/11 Hartman Rocks

Ahhh fresh morning in Colorado. I always wake up at the butte crack of dawn on vacations for no reason. Here’s some pictures of early morning from our deck.

After dying in the hills Allison decided to give us a break and take us to Gunnison to ride some trails at “only” 8,000ft. These trails were really fun, and it was like a TOTALLY different experience. Felt more like riding in Las Vegas, dusty standy with a lot of sandstone rocks to ride on.

Hartman Rocks

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/98746383

Allison chilling on the rocks

I climbed this on my first try. I was dumbfounded that I was able to make it, no dabble! I got a few bell rings for that one.

Me riding some gnar

Eileen riding some gnar

Tim rocking some flow

Us

And wifey who was out hiking while we were riding

It was a fantastic ride, lots of flow, some great technical sections, and tons of fun.

When we got back Tim made us panini sandwiches dorm room style

Here’s our laundry room. :)

After a regroup we went back to town and ate dinner at “The Last Steep”, which is supposed to be the best burger place in Crested Butte. It was good, though I didn’t get a burger :)

2011/07/12 Snodgrass

Earlier day, somehow everyone got up and ready and I wasn’t having a heart attack. Awesome.

We arrived in town a the public parking lot, strange thing about living at 9k feet, sometimes the clouds aren’t only above you…

We headed up up up to the trails.

Snodgrass

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/98746357

Almost right away the ride got really beautiful, as is almost everything in Crested Butte. Ashley found it so touching that she well uh, yeah this picture:

Tim was also impressed

And about 1 nerd will laugh at this picture

SOON

Here’s me representing MTBNJ

Here’s where I realized there was some serious dust inside my camera from one of the last races I shot. It looks like a bomb just went off on the hillside, but it’s just dirt on the sensor :(

That’s Ann

Thankfully those clouds moved about 10 seconds later and I opened up my aperture to hide the dirt on the sensor.

I have no idea how to take flower pictures, but in case my friend Brian reads this (he published a book on flowers where he took all the pictures and his photos are absolutely incredible)

Gratuitous bike shot.

Crossing 10k for the first time.

At this point I think Eileen was showing some possible signs of dying so we split the group up. Tim, Eileen and myself wandered around the mountains a bit and found ourselves on the Crested Butte downhill course. Sweet! We hit about 500 ft of the bottom of the downhill course. Some cool table top jumps and drops and slalom type stuff.

And what do we find at the bottom? BURRITOS

We met up with my wife who had been hiking all day and taking Myspace pictures of herself.

When we arrived back to our condo, we noticed that the owners (who live upstairs) have shaven there dog “Lion-o”

It’s a 200lb malamute who could absolutely not give a crap about anything, it wouldn’t even look over at us while we were standing next to it. haha.

The replacement screen for my phone showed up today (overnighted from Amazon prime, $40 for the screen, $4 for overnight shipping) so I started taking it apart. Turns out I needed a T-5 torx screwdriver. Tim was heading to town to have the bike shop fix the brakes on his rental tallboy (WE GOINA TOWN!) so I jumped in his minivan and so did Eileen and Allison. After a few stops at some stores I found a multi screwdriver that had a T-5 ($18! annoying… should have gotten one from Amazon).  Then we stopped at the grocery store. During checkout I think all we had was 3 containers of Ice Cream and a cucumber or something. The checkout girl looked at the 3 containers of Ice Cream and the 4 of us and said “THREE of these for you four?” and without hesitation I replied “You think we should get another? There are four of us….” I think she about fainted. Classic.

I’m a fat bastard and I think I ate an entire Ice Cream container myself after eating delicious chicken that Ashley made with some lemon zest… or something. Pretty sure Allison grilled for us again. I’m useless in a kitchen, and at this point I’m completely stunned that nobody broke a bike that I could be useful with and fix.

After dinner and 2nd dinner of ice cream I spent like 2 hours trying to get my phone apart. Futile, I broke it even more. Google basically says that it’s the most impossible screen to replace on the market. I gave up, a tore a ribbon cable and that’s the end of that, I’ll find another board and cable on ebay and finish fixing the phone eventually, but I bought a used working phone on ebay and just shipped it to my house, I’ll deal with using my Galaxy Tablet until I get home, it’s not a big deal.

2011/07/13 Rock Climbing

Today we went climbing with our guides from http://www.crestedbutteguides.com/

We picked up our guides from Crested Butte and we all drove down near Gunnison to the climbing spot together. We opted for the full day. Ann wins the picture of the day.

Here’s the wall we were climbing on all day. Pretty awesome experience, my first real feel at outdoor climbing. I can normally climb 5.11 climbs in the gym, but it took me a long time to get used to how different outdoor climbing is. It’s really a ton of fun.

Me:

Ann

Ashley

Allison

Tim

Wifey Maria

Eileen

We took an intermission and started a class on how to properly place anchors. Pretty informative. After that we practiced mock lead climbing with the cams and anchors. You can see all the devices Eileen has in the picture above. I really enjoyed the challenge of trying to set all the anchors and attach myself to them. I’m not sure what Ashley is doing in this picture, but I’m getting my anchors checked by the instructor and everyone is watching :)

Climbing was a great time, I even have my heart rate if anyone gives a crap ;)

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/99180041

 

On another note, not sure why but my feet hurt really really really bad. Maybe my feet were swollen for some reason out there? It was a LOT hotter than I’m used to climbing in, I typically only climb in the winter and I bet that helps. Same shoes I’ve been wearing all year. The pain was unbearable and really getting in the way of my climbing.

After climbing we dropped our guides off and they gave us some hints on good places to eat dinner. They suggested a Sushi place in town and Ashley really wanted to go, but I refused to go to a sushi place 1,000 miles from the ocean. I live 11 miles from the South Street Seaport, I am not eating fish in Colorado. Thankfully the 2 Hawaiian’s also put their foot down on that for the same reason. And against my judgement we went and got pizza at http://www.thesecretstash.com/ . The pizza was good, but holy crap was it expensive. You can hear my Jersey can’t you? The best pizza I ever had in my life came from a small place near me, and they were $5 for a 16″ on Tuesdays. These pizza’s while “gourmet” were over $20. I’m a cheap ass, I know… but I will give it that it was one of the better pies I got outside of NY/NJ. Anyway the  point was that we had a great time eating dinner, which is far more important.

Easy day today. At some point in this vacation we watched Pale Rider and Hang ‘Em High, I think we did a lot of watching this night as I can’t remember much of anything else we did.

2011/07/14 Doctor’s Park

Holy F’ing epic day. This was the highlight of my trip for sure. Just take a look at this Garmin link, specifically the elevation profile. http://connect.garmin.com/activity/99180035

The climb up was death. Death death. I think Eileen is still mad at me for what shall I call it… “coaching” her up the death death hill. When I got up to the top I had climbed 2,500ft to 10,827ft with 49ft of descending the whole time. Watching how far ahead Allison was was demoralizing and inspiring at the same time. I wish I could climb like that. She’s a damn goat! UP UP UP

The first part of UP wasn’t so bad. Allison knowing our pain actually dropped us off about 4 miles up the road and turned around and parked her car, and caught us embarrassingly quickly. The first part was a nice dirt road climb next to a trout river with guys fly fishing.

I hung back a while and took some pictures and waited for Eileen.

Tim and I

Here’s Eileen!

I told her she didn’t look even close to dead enough to make us wait. If you aren’t dying, hurry up! I got behind her and started screaming MUSH MUSH MUSH until I got some creative adjectives out of Eileen :)

Tim got some pictures of Eileen and I

There was soon a stream crossing that Ashley enjoyed

Eileen

Then the DEATH DEATH climb started. It got steeper, the road got crappier. Death, breathing, death, lungs, death…

Ashley mid death

Then the scenery turned into pine forest, cool. I thought it was an escape until the mosquitoes and bugs came. We waited a while for Eileen’s corpse to gravitate to the top of this death mountain. Allison headed off on an optional loop up at the top while Tim and Ashley and I hung out and tried to regain our lungs. I took some pictures.

I think I was there for like 20 minutes and my heart rate still wouldn’t come down.

When Eileen got to the top, I got what I wanted. A corpse. She was DEAD, collapsed on the side of the trail, bike fallen haphazardly. Win! Haha at this point I think if she had any strength left she would have stabbed me with her multitool.

Oh but oh, did the fun just begin…

A brief portion of relatively flat singletrack. I saw this thing, not sure if it’s some sort of jacked up deer or a small elk?

Sooo nice up there. Nice and cool too.

I peddled ahead and took some pictures before the decent. Check out my awesome kickstand that Tim found.

We headed off down the mountain. And down, and down, and down, and down. Holy crap I’ve never done a 2,500ft decent before. It beat the ever loving crap out of me but I FLEW down, so no pictures. Wish I had my video camera mounted up, stupid me neglected to hook it up all week. It was incredible descending through climate changes and complete environment changes. I mean you see the picture above, this is where we stopped.

TOTALLY different place! Some of it got crazy, I was REALLY glad I had my Top Fuel 69er, what an awesome awesome bike for this kind of day.

Tim got some good pictures of when the climate started changing. I can not for the life of me figure out how they got these cinder blocks up the mountain. Quads would not fit. How many can a mule carry? Really awesome that they did though as these blocks really reinforced the turns up there in the loose sand.

I’m thankful I had Kenda Nevegals on my bike too, so I can hit this stuff in anger.

Eileen coming down the last 50ft

Ashley doing some yoga and the ghost of Eileen

Here’s a video from someone else of the decent at Doctor’s Park, just something I found on Vimeo. He’s got good links to jump ahead to if you don’t want to watch the whole thing.

http://vimeo.com/6044154

Us just hanging out at the bottom.

After getting home we cooked up some Lasagna and pigged out and passed out. Epic day!

2011/07/15 Deer Creek

Last day of riding in Crested Butte :(

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/99372614

Today Ashley, Tim, and myself headed out by ourselves. Allison went out solo to murder the mountains without us anchors, and Eileen took the day off riding to go hiking with my wife. So for the first time I was leading the ride. I picked what I thought was a intermediate ride around the skii hill. It turned out to be a little bit much, but I’m really glad we did it, it was a great ride. Probably would have been a bit better in the opposite direction but what did I know? Heh. I got my wife to drop us off about 8 miles in, so that we could finish within a reasonable time, shaved 8 miles of boring paved road, no big deal.

I think this day provided the best views, hands down. Here’s Tim’s attempt at a photobomb.

Tim

I need my speedlights out here ;)

So so so beautiful out here.

Some of the climbing was a bit out of control, too much. But since it was tight singletrack we couldn’t just push through it like we did the day before. It was too hard to concentrate on keeping your bike on track and also trying to put out 100% to make the climb. A lot of hike-a-bike was happening.

Ashley loves the air again

COME ON!!!! does it get any better than this?

Possibly, that’s Ashley descending that awesome singletrack in the flowers

Purple flowers

Yeah, I have been lugging my D700 camera with me this entire trip. It was worth it.

But Tim’s new S95 was taking kick ass shots too. My wife had my S90

Apparently at the same time my wife and Eileen were having a snowball fight

Back to me! :P

Silliness!

There was this little section of trail that was a river, I regret not drinking straight from this river, it was probably damn awesome water.

We descended forever, passing tons and tons of people heading the other way. Their climb seemed BRUTAL in parts. Some terrific speed, awesome scenery, and tons of fun. We met Eileen and Maria back in town. We stopped for a second to take pictures of this art made out of old car bumpers and trailer campers or something.

We met up at the burrito shop again. I think we did that a few time already this week, but I forget now. This place sponsors the monoboard race. http://www.monoski.net/monopalooza/ I haven’t seen a monoboard in forever!

After pigging out on Burritos, we went back and got showered and met back up with Allison. My friend Ian from Denver was coming out tonight also, so Maria and I headed out to town to meet up with him. We walked the town for a few hours and enjoyed his company before having dinner with the whole gang at Maxwell’s Steakhouse. Had some good food and great company yet again. Ian came back to our place and we chatted it up for hours and he crashed out in Eileen’s bunkbed and left at like 5 in the morning or something. We are to meet up with him again on our way out to Denver.

2011/07/15, Leaving Crested Butte and riding Salida Rainbow Trail solo

In the morning we all packed up our things and said our goodbyes. Allison had left at the “butte” crack of dawn so we said goodbye and thanked her very much for leading us around all week. That was awesome. She’s racing Leadville this year and we wished her good luck.

Maria and I headed out after making sure Eileen and Ashley had their bikes packed up. My goal was to go ride Salida, which was also the same place that Allison was heading out so early for. I wasn’t going to do her epic shuttle ride though, I was just going to do an hour or two and see what it was like. Didn’t want to torture my wife making her wait. I drove our truck up the trail as far as I felt comfortable. It was very narrow and my wife had to drive it down solo and she was nervous. At this point all my tubeless sealant was pretty much gone, I can’t believe how fast it evaporates out here! i packed 4 12oz C02’s with me and inflated both tires before I left. I had also discovered while unpacking that I was missing a nut off one of my suspension bolts! I rolled the dice and kept an eye on the bolt and hoped that it didn’t migrate out and leave me stranded.

http://connect.garmin.com/activity/99784609

The trail started out as just doubletrack climbing and turned into this sweet sweet pine forest singletrack.

The trail was really awesome and fast. I was having a great time!

At this point I was about half way done with the ~13 mile ride and I had used 3 out of the 4 co2’s and I noticed that I didn’t have my pump! Oh crap! I had ditched my pump early in the week when I realized that there were 5 or 6 of us riding around each with a pump.

I started to really high tail it out of there so pictures are limited.

Some unique riding surface

I boogied it down as fast as I could, and used the last co2 when I really had too, rear rim bottoming out. I can’t play games like that with this setup, they aren’t tubeless rims or tires so the risk of burping or debeading the tire is really high.

I popped back out onto the road and found my wife pretty fast. Loaded the bike up and got changed and headed back out on the road. As soon as I pulled out onto the road I saw Allison driving up the road! I couldn’t figure out the stupid windows in the rental truck so I couldn’t wave, but it was really funny to see her a few hours from Crested Butte. Hope she had a good ride too.

I pricelined a hotel near Denver and we headed out that way. We stopped and ate at some mediocre Mexican place with awful parking. I had to throw my bike in the front seat of the truck because I didn’t want to leave it in the bed while we were inside. Annoying and really dirty! ha.

After eating, I found a powerwashing station and put a few bucks in and cleaned the crap out of my bike. I know I know, don’t power wash bikes but it was going to be fully disassembled anyway. We got to the hotel and the bike went in the front seat again, this time clean. We crashed for the night at the Doubletree and I ate both the cookies they gave us and passed out.

I keep forgetting to stop pricelining 3.5 star or 4 star hotels. I’m much happier with 3 stars as they typically provide free wifi and breakfast. 3.5 and up do not. Wifi is extra and so is breakfast, annoying.

I ate some snacks I still had and went and took apart my bike.

At this point I can’t find that suspension BOLT! The nut was gone, but I KNOW for a fact that it was there when I left the powerwashing station and I left the bike bolt side up in the bed so it wouldn’t fall out. I must have dropped it out of the frame when putting the bike in the cab at night, but I can’t find it anywhere. Lame. Got the bike back in the box and all my stuff packed up well in the suitcase.

Ian showed up to hang out with us for the day. We jumped into his Dakota and left mine in the lot. We drove all over Denver and ate at this awesome breakfast place in downtown.

Here is Ian with the awesome “birdcage” thing they gave us as our number as we waited to be seated.

We all got the same chicken waffles :)

We went to the Denver science museum and hung out there until they closed, we are such dorks ;)

Ian drove us around for a while showing us the finer parts of Denver, some of the Buffalo preserves and such. I, like a total freaking idiot opened the door of his truck into this concrete anchor and put a dent in it. He had JUST got that side of the truck painted! His truck was 100% flawless, and I ruined it! Ugh, I suck.

We went over the Bass Pro Shops and looked at all the ridiculous stuff there, and then went out for BBQ dinner and I ate my face off.

Not sure where, but sometime during the day I picked up this picture. I think it was at the museum.

After pigging out it was time for Maria and I to go catch our Red Eye. :(

Ian dropped us off at our truck and we headed out for the airport. We got gas, dropped off the truck, got checked in and finally boarded the plane. I couldn’t sleep, bummer. Bummer! I was in one of those half away sleep trances where you hover in and out of consciousness for hours, it was awful. I was not rested but as soon as we landed and got picked up I headed to work on Monday. Ugh, painful day but I pulled through it.

What a trip! such an awesome time!

One thought on “2011 Crested Butte

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