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  1. #1
    Senior Member trophyoftexas's Avatar
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    Road rides out of Gunnison?

    I'm a photographer and will be in Gunnison to shoot a football game on the 7th of September. I'm also a roadie and have been thinking about coming out a week early and ride some out and backs each day, none to exceed 75-80 miles as I'm a flatlander and don't want to bite off more than I can chew! To further complicate matters my climbing bike is in Michigan and I'm going to be riding something along the lines of a lugged steel with a 6-7 speed cassette. Any suggestions for rides that will give me a taste of the mountains and hills without being crazy-difficult? Gunnison to Crested Butte looks like a logical ride, good roadway and traffic? Thanks!

  2. #2
    The Rock Cycle eofelis's Avatar
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    I don't know the Gunnison area for rides that well but if you ride west out of town on Hwy 50 toward the Blue Mesa Reservoir it is a relatively flat ride, good shoulder. You can go as far as you want along Blue Mesa Res. and then turn back. Or turn off toward Lake City but it gets hilly.

    Going north to Crested Butte is uphill but I don't recall how the grade is.

    I think Hwy 50 east might be ok. I've only driven it in a car, don't recall the shoulder conditions.
    Turning off Hwy 50 toward Cochetope(?) Pass is a narrow twisty road in a canyon, maybe not such a good ride.

    Maybe a BF member living closer to Gunnison may have better info.
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  3. #3
    mje
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    I suggest north to Crested Butte, or to Altmont then east toward Taylor reservoir for less traffic. Eventually the Taylor reservoir road turns to dirt, but its rideable or you can turn back then. Going north is more scenic than either east or west on 50 or even sourth on the road to Lake City. Those routes are pretty barren and not pretty for a long way.

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    In addition to what has already been mentioned, you can head east on 50, then south on 114, North Cotachopa (?) Pass. The road climbs gently first through an open wash, then into a narrow and beautiful canyon next to a river. Coming out the other side of the canyon, it climbs more steeply to a fairly good elevation. You can just ride out and turn around back the way you came whenever. There are a few forest service picknic areas/campgrounds, but I don't know if they will have drinking water, so plan accordingly, there are no towns/businesses. Traffic is light -to- none.

    Edit - now i see eofelis mentioned this - I have ridden it, it is quite pleasant and safe. Hwy 50 shoulders in both direction from Gunnison are generous, but traffic is fast-moving and includes big trucks, so it's not that relaxing. It's OK, though.

    The best ride is probably out past Taylor Reservoir and up Cottonwood Pass, but as a flatlander without low gears, you will probably find the road past the reservoir more challenging than fun.
    Last edited by valygrl; 07-18-13 at 11:54 AM.
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  5. #5
    Senior Member trophyoftexas's Avatar
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    Thanks for the answers...let me ask this...135 north to Crested Butte appears on satellite views to be pretty smooth and wide shouldered, is this pretty much the case? Anyone one have any idea as to the elevation change that one would get riding up to CB from Gunnison?

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    Road is good to ride to the Taylor cutoff, that's as far as I've been. bikeroutetoaster.com says it's 1300' gain.

    check out www.bikeroutetoaster.com, you can make a route easily and see elevation profile. make sure you change the units to Imperial, unless you want metric.
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    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    I've driven to Crested Butte from Gunnison several times after bicycling around Gunnison. As I recall, the road is not steep, but a steady climb with wide shoulders. That's my recollection and my wife's also. Crested Butte is beautiful.

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    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Another ride to think about is to go south from Gunnison to Lake City on highway 149. It's an out and back, so you can turn around in Lake City, Lake San Cristobol or on to the top of Slumgullion Pass. I would encourage you to take the road into Lake San Cristobol, it is a stunning lake ringed by the San Juan Mountains.

    The ride to Crested Butte is good, with few hills. If you ride from the town to Crested Butte ski area it's a different story, big climb here.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

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    ^^ Nice road, but a pretty hard climb. Isn't that called "7 devils" or something like that?
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  10. #10
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    The road from Gunnison to Lake City isn't too bad, rollers most of the way, but hey, you're in the middle of the Rocky Mountains, so there are climbs. Then you ride out of town and take the turn off to Lake San Cristobol, it's only a mile from 149 to the lake, then only paved for a couple miles around the lake, I usually stop at the resort an the east end of the lake, then go back. Only climb after the lake is Slumgullion Pass, that can be a grind if you are not ready for the altitude, but you don't have to do that.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  11. #11
    Senior Member trophyoftexas's Avatar
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    OK, thanks to all for the answers concerning the ROAD riding! NOW, I've decided to throw my mtb in the van, too so help me out with some places close to Gunnison, say within 20 miles or so, that I can drive to and then mtb ride some. Here I won't mind hills and elevation changes but I'm 65 and NOT a technical type rider at all so point me to places that are pretty but more like trail riding or nice double track riding. For this part of the question the scenery is the main interest....thanks again to all that HAVE answered and to those that will now send me out to mtb ride some pretty places!

  12. #12
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Hartman Rocks trails are just out of town. Ask at the bike shop for directions. It's also worth the drive up to Crested Butte to ride trails there, lots of variety and beautiful.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  13. #13
    Senior Member trophyoftexas's Avatar
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    Crested Butte non-technical trails

    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty View Post
    Hartman Rocks trails are just out of town. Ask at the bike shop for directions. It's also worth the drive up to Crested Butte to ride trails there, lots of variety and beautiful.
    Great on the Hartman Rocks, checked some video out on that area and that looks great....how about some pretty but not too technical trails up around Crested Butte? Or over by Salida? Actually any really pretty mountain biking trails within 50 or so miles of Gunnison would be fine, here again the scenery is what I'm looking for, elevation changes are fine too, just nothing too terribly technical, I don't have those kind of skills.

  14. #14
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    Well, two dirt roads out of Crested Butte would be nice for you. Slate River road goes north out of town and is pretty flat following the river, very nice mountain views of Oh-Be-Joyful area and Elk mountains. Another ride is to drive to the ski area and ride your bike on the dirt road to Gothic, also minimal climbs and great photo area. If you are up for the miles you can ride beyond Gothic and come back to the ski area on the Washington Gulch road, check out the map.
    I'll once again mention Lake City area and Lake San Cristabol. You can drive with your mtn bike to the Lake, then ride the roads around the lake. The roads are on both sides of the lake, are mostly gravel and flat. The mountain scenery in the area is very nice. Try and pick a time for these rides with low car traffic, cars kick up lots of dust on these roads, the down side of riding on flat and wide gravel roads.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  15. #15
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty View Post
    Well, two dirt roads out of Crested Butte would be nice for you. Slate River road goes north out of town and is pretty flat following the river, very nice mountain views of Oh-Be-Joyful area and Elk mountains. Another ride is to drive to the ski area and ride your bike on the dirt road to Gothic, also minimal climbs and great photo area. If you are up for the miles you can ride beyond Gothic and come back to the ski area on the Washington Gulch road, check out the map.
    I'll once again mention Lake City area and Lake San Cristabol. You can drive with your mtn bike to the Lake, then ride the roads around the lake. The roads are on both sides of the lake, are mostly gravel and flat. The mountain scenery in the area is very nice. Try and pick a time for these rides with low car traffic, cars kick up lots of dust on these roads, the down side of riding on flat and wide gravel roads.
    Sadly, one will find many 4wheel and ATV and other related vehicles, with occupants dressed as military wanna-bes one after another, going beyond Gothic, raising great plumes of dust unless it has rained recently. In any event, it is not a fun ride any more. A few years back, my wife and I enjoyed it. Most recently, we just gave up.
    Last edited by DnvrFox; 07-25-13 at 09:56 PM.

  16. #16
    Sore saddle cyclist Shifty's Avatar
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    I know Denver, this is the problem with riding the "easy" routes, usually involve all manner of vehicles. Timing is the key to riding roads like this, ride early, or week days or eat dust for miles. September is almost always better and beautiful with the leaves turning gold. There are great mountain bike rides off of the top of Monarch Pass. They go to the south off of the highway, but may be more technical that the OP wants to ride.
    Those voices in your head aren't real, but they have some great ideas

  17. #17
    Banned. DnvrFox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Shifty View Post
    I know Denver, this is the problem with riding the "easy" routes, usually involve all manner of vehicles. Timing is the key to riding roads like this, ride early, or week days or eat dust for miles. September is almost always better and beautiful with the leaves turning gold. There are great mountain bike rides off of the top of Monarch Pass. They go to the south off of the highway, but may be more technical that the OP wants to ride.
    The best was when they still had the winter closure chain up just past Gothic. We had the road all to ourselves.

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    Try Ohio Pass! The alternate route from Gunnison to CB. Involves dirt road, mostly smooth. Gentle grades over the pass then bomb down into CB on dirt. Then ride the regular highway back to Gunnie.

    Oh what's that, you're bringing your mtb? Never mind then. Don't waste time riding on the roads.

  19. #19
    Senior Member trophyoftexas's Avatar
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    OK....taking the mountain bike for sure. I've looked at as many videos as I can find on the various trails around CB and 401 looks like THE one to do. I would call myself and intermediate-beginner as far as technical skills are concerned and there are about 3-4 little spots in the ride that look like they would give me problems unless I can get off and walk a little. These places look to be about half way around and they look like rivulets that have washed out and appear to be fairly narrow and possibly a little slippery to walk or ride. So, y'all tell me EVERYTHING you know about 401 and what I need to be aware of before heading out on a single track that doesn't allow for a bail out! Thanks again in advance for any help!

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