130 mile Il Grande West Elk Bicycle Classic
The 2012 Il Grande West Elk Bicycle Classic will leave Gunnison as a mass start at 7:00 am on September 2. The start will take place in front of Taylor Hall on Western State College of Colorado's campus. You will be escorted out of town and head west on highway 50 for 27 miles and you will pass the first aid station at 21 miles. This section has a very wide shoulder and flows along Blue Mesa Reservoir with some small climbs. We will drive an escort car behind the main pack to warn motorists of your presence. At the Blue Mesa dam you will turn onto highway 92. Be careful negotiating the narrow corners as you cross the dam. You will then follow the north Rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. As you ride the smooth twisty road with very little traffic, you will climb some nice hills, see the deep canyon of the Gunnison River below you and mountains in all directions. We often see hawks, bald and golden eagles, deer, elk, mountain lions, bobcats, bears and coyotes through this whole ride so keep your head up. Did we say that this section has very little traffic, smooth roads, is one of the best roads to ride anywhere, and will be included in the 2012 USA Pro Challenge? It is sweet.
After climbing to a high point at Hermit's Rest Aid station, you will have a continuous descent and some flat sections to
Crawford. Now you will turn to the hip town of Paonia for some more food and entertainment. (If you want a ride back to Crested Butte from here, hey it's still a pretty good ride, you could probably get a ride in a SAG).
Soon after Paonia you will begin the final and largest climb of the day - Kebler pass. The pass starts paved but soon turns to dirt. OK, it is dirt, but it is smooth dirt. You climb to the summit at just about 10,000 ft and then you descend into Crested Butte and your awaiting finish line and party. By the way, Kebler pass is paved for a good section into Crested Butte with some smooth dirt patches. Once in Crested Butte you will finish downtown and will be treated to a fine meal by Donita's Cantina and party. Then you can catch a ride with us (we'll have a van), hitch a ride (we still do that), ride your bike back down valley (it's almost all downhill), take the free bus or drive back with your family to Gunnison 28 miles away.
100 mile Il Piccolo West Elk Bicycle Classic
If you just don't think you are up to riding 130 miles, we've created a shorter route that will be 100mi. The il piccolo version will start about 30 miles out of Gunnison, 3 miles past the Blue Mesa dam on Highway 92 at 7:30 am. It will then follow the route above. We will have a limited number of seats available for you and your bike to this starting area so sign up early if you want this option. You can also get a ride out with a friend. We just ask that you don't park your car overnight in the parking area.