Saturday, September 18, 2010

crmbt 2011

The Colorado Rocky Mountain Bike Tour just announced their route for August 7-13, 2011. The tour begins in Grand Junction, and I would encourage anyone who does the tour to arrange to be there early enough to ride through the Colorado National Monument.
Three or four hours would give you ample time to appreciate the setting of the "Tour of the Moon" stage of the Coors Classic bike race. It would also be a good warm-up for what's to come.

Sunday brings 62 miles of rollers through the desert-like western slope as the tour makes it's way to the first of two overnight stops in Hotchkiss. This will not be filled with the alpine scenery you will see for much of the rest of the week, but this part of Colorado possesses it's own unique beauty.
Monday morning the tour heads south from Hotchkiss through Crawford and on to the Black Canyon. My first Colorado climbs ever were through the Black Canyon, and it is still one of the most enjoyable days I ever spent on a bike. I was slow enough that Peter must have assumed I was having trouble, but I just didn't want the day to end. Seventy-nine miles will get you to Gunnison .

Tuesday the tour heads north from Gunnison towards Crested Butte, turning east at Almont for a spectacularly scenic ride up to the Taylor Park Reservoir.
On the eastern side of the reservoir you get on Cottonwood Pass Road, which is not paved on the west side, but everything I've read about it leads me to believe that riding on the hard packed dirt is a small price to pay for the beauty and challenge that this pass has to offer. It also takes you to 12,126 feet! And the end to this 69-mile day throws you down the paved east side, losing more than 4000 feet in less than 20 miles as you roll into Buena Vista.

Wednesday has the tour heading north from Buena Vista on US 24 with the Collegiate Peaks Range on your left. Turning west at Twin Lakes it heads up the eastern approach to Independence Pass.
After topping out at 12,095 feet you'll have a steep twisting descent down the west side into Aspen. The last 40 miles of this century day are on the bike path to Glenwood Springs. Only 2-3% grades, but downhill all the way! You'll be ready for a well-deserved rest day.

Friday features 80 miles from Glenwood Springs back to Hotchkiss over McClure Pass. Stop at Redstone to check out the coke ovens.
The ride over McClure Pass is not long but steep enough to be a good challenge. The ride repays you for your hard work by taking you through some beautiful canyons and past the Paonia Reservoir before a nice descent back down to mining and farming country. This area is also home to several wineries.
Saturday gives riders a choice. You can back-track the 62 miles you rode the first day to Grand Junction, or you can live a little, and sweat a lot! A right turn onto CO 65 will take you up and over the Grand Mesa, the world's largest flat-top mountain. Choose the Grand Mesa! You won't be sorry. The grades are never too severe, but you are climbing for the better part of 20 miles! As you go up you can get some great views of where you were a few hours ago.
 Once across the Mesa, you'll have another nice descent, followed by a hot ride to the end. Another near century day will bring you back to Grand Junction. I know some will wish for a shorter day to finish the tour and get on the road towards home, but the tour's not over 'til it's over, and the Grand Mesa is something you won't want to miss. Great route, great tour! I sure hope I'm one of the lucky riders of CRMBT 2011.


  1. Wow, incredible scenery! I'll add this ride to my "Someday I'm going to ride the ______" list.

  2. OK, I've only toyed with the idea of riding this ride before. But now I'm going to have to check it out and plan to ride it.

    Thanks for the photos - the scenery is incredible!

  3. A very nice post full of great photos and good information.