Black Canyon Family Tour
Strava KOM Kyle Thomas 51:51
Strava QOM Kristina Kittelson 1:02:05
Drive 25 mi west of Gunnison to Blue Mesa Dam It is critical that you leave BEFORE 7am OR after 7:30 to allow the long 135mi group riders safe passage. Park at the parking lot 0.5 mi past the dam or at the dam. This route we believe is one of the best you will find anywhere. It twists and turns along the black canyon far below. As it is so twisty and doesn’t go to a large town there is very little traffic. Take your time to stop and look down into the canyon and watch for common animals such as deer, elk, bear, bobcats and many birds. There are bathrooms at the dam, Pioneer Point trail head (stop here and take a look) at hermits rest aid station and if you want a little more continue to the Crystal reservoir trail for the final bathroom and turn around before you descend to Crawford.
West Elk Bicycle Classic
The West Elk Bicycle Classic is a mass start, point-to-point ride from Gunnison to Crested Butte. It has truly become a classic over the years in the “never say quit” mentality that riders must bring to this challenging and inspiring course.
Starting at 7 am from Western State Colorado University, the pack leaves town with police escort, wild anticipation and excitement of the many grueling miles ahead. Heading west along the Gunnison river as the sun rises, the cool morning air begins to warm, and riders settle into their saddles, cadence and finding people to work with for the first 100 miles or so, before the “fun” starts.
Slowly, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison deepens. First as Blue Mesa reservoir, then onto the north rim of the Black Canyon, where amazing views, foggy morning mist, broken sunbeams and even rainbows encourage each and every pedal stroke. One of the most scenic and delightfully twisty roads anywhere eventually drops several thousand feet to the farms and orchards of the North Fork valley, as riders visit Crawford and Paonia.
Stop at the Crawford Aid station and chat with Sharon and her kids, we are proud to be supporting them again through this year’s West Elk Bicycle Classic! Then onto Paonia, where fresh fruit abounds and cyclists will surely enjoy their stop at the Paonia aide station…before the real challenge begins, as if a century isn’t enough.
Finally, riders will climb, climb, and climb some more; into the alpine forests of Kebler pass…all on dirt roads! Even the fastest riders will suffer here…so keep those pedals turning until reaching the summit! Then coast down to Crested Butte, you have just completed the West Elk Bicycle Classic course! Spin out those legs and then recover with some grub, suds and music while sharing stories with your crew and the new friends you made along the way. Chapeau, you rock!