The West Elk Bicycle Classic takes place some of the prettiest and quietest roads around. It is also a very difficult, remote and technically demanding route. We recommend experienced, fit, and technically proficient cyclists participate only. Large sections of the course are without cell phone service or any other sources of communication so help can be a longish wait away. The twisty roads that make this such a great road ride also make travel by vehicle slow if we need to get to you.
The West Elk Bicycle Classic route turns to a dirt and gravel road at the 100 mile mark. It remains this way for much of the remaining 30 miles as it climbs over 3,000 vertical feet. It then descends 1,000 feet on mainly tarmac for 7 miles to the finish line in Crested Butte. Riding any bike, but especially a road bike, on an unpaved road requires experience, skill and technical ability.
While the Gunnison country in early fall is typically very nice with little rain, heavy rain could happen. The dirt sections of Kebler are composed of gravel that has been coated with magnesium chloride and in most conditions, it improves the conditions of the road for cycling by providing a smooth surface. In the event of heavy precipitation, the road surface has the potential to become a chemical-laden, muddy, sloppy nightmare.
Magnesium chloride and mud may not good for any bicycle, whether a Huffy or a $15,000 dream bike that has all of the latest technology available on this planet. It can coat the bicycle and drive train; penetrate every bearing, nook and cranny and is difficult to remove.
Choose a bike for the West Elk Bicycle Classic carefully and at your one risk.