SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 6, 2015
The What and Why?
Join Western State Colorado University’s Director of Mountain Sports, Dave Wiens, Labor Day weekend for this 134-mile timed road tour with 9,300 ft. of climbing. The ride starts on Western’s campus in Gunnison and finishes in downtown Crested Butte, just 28 miles to the north via Highway 135.
However, the West Elk Bicycle Classic never touches 135, but chooses instead the scenic route: It plies the shores of Blue Mesa Reservoir; brushes the Black Canyon of the Gunnison; and visits off-the-beaten-path communities like Crawford, Paonia and Somerset, before finally depositing riders on dirt and gravel for the biggest climb of the ride over Kebler Pass, the backdoor entrance into Crested Butte. All proceeds from the West Elk Bicycle Classic benefit the Mountain Sports program at Western, as well as the communities we visit along this amazing route.
Welcome to the West Elk Bicycle Classic. Along with being a significant challenge, we think it’s one of the premier routes anywhere. And like so many great rides, its origin can be traced back to a gathering of local biker riders and a few cold ones.
It was 2011 and a group of us were kicking around ideas for an event to help fund Western State Colorado University’s Mountain Sports program. We quickly settled on a road bike ride and we discussed options in the Gunnison area. No one was keen about an out and back and the shortest loop that is entirely paved is around 200 miles.
Our premier road ride is Highway 92, high above Black Canyon National Park, but this is almost always ridden as an out and back. However, we connected it with county roads and the North Fork Valley communities of Crawford and Paonia, Highway 133 and finally, the unpaved surface of Kebler Pass, a backdoor, summer only route into Crested Butte.
It came out to 134 miles with some dirt at the end but everyone around the table knew that this route, while not for everyone, was nothing short of stunning. While I drove sag that first year, I have ridden the West Elk the past two years and it is among the most memorable rides that I have ever done.
Thanks for considering riding in the 4th West Elk Bicycle Classic. If you do, I can only guarantee awe, pain, inspiration, anguish and, hopefully, elation, as you drop into our post ride party in downtown Crested Butte after 134 exhilarating, if not challenging miles!
Enjoy the Ride,
Welcome to our world in the Gunnison country! We love to ride, ski, and play in our beautiful mountains. We like to see how far we can go and who can go the fastest. When Dave and I first decided to put this event together, we knew it would be one of the longest rides many of you may have ever attempted. Throw in monster climbs and we have created a challenge that will provide lifelong memories and new friends. In a world where freeways and stoplights are the norm, you also very rarely get to ride 130+ miles on rustic, traffic free roads in amazing surroundings and only a couple of stop signs and no traffic lights. We love this route and know you will too!