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Bridges of the Butte Recap From the Saddle

Riding a townie bike for twenty-four hours is no picnic. Though when it is around great friends, for a great cause, and on a Race Townie Bicycle, it does not get any better.

Bridges of the Butte is a 24 hour townie bicycle event held annually in Crested Butte Colorado. The event is a fundraiser for the Adaptive Sports Center who provides outdoor recreation to people with disabilities–and what we mean by this is the Adaptive Sports Center transforms peoples’ lives through outdoor adventure.

First of all, this organization rocks. Learn more about Adaptive right now.

Secondly, this event is super fun. Here is a re-cap from All Business who set a new course record of riding 120 laps (308 miles) on his Race Townie Bicycle in the 24 hour time frame.

Photo Credit: Pat Bittle

Photo Credit: Pat Bittle

In the words of All Business –

This ride is so much fun! We begin from base camp which is located at the Crested Butte Arts Center. The first lap is a group roll. This way everyone gets to know the lap (which is the same year after year) and everyone is in costume of course.

We roll to Crested Butte’s east side, turn north a few blocks, and then work our way up to the west side of town and the top of Elk Avenue. I do say ‘up’ as there is a slight incline to the course — about an 80 foot elevation gain. Once we turn onto Elk Avenue we can drop a few gears and get our max speeds up into the 20 + mile per hour range. This is when we begin passing cars.

A few more turns and we roll back through the Arts Center base camp for a lap count.

Once the first lap is over, its time to take off the business jacket and really clock in. As I had a goal of 120 laps, I knew there was not much time to play around. In 2012, I rode 113 laps so I did have a good sense of what pace I needed to carry. I also sported a computer on my handlebars to monitor my average speed. For the first few hours of the ride, my average was up above 15 miles per hour. I only needed to carry 14 miles per hour in order to hit my target.

One of my favorite aspects of this ride is taking in the 24 cycle of Crested Butte on a busy summer weekend. This weekend is the finally of Crested Butte Bike Week and many people come into town for the events of riding bikes, music, and overall, enjoying summer. People are out and about on this night.

You can watch the dinner crowd as it morphs into the party crowd. Then the bars empty and the streets get really full of people as they dance, cheer, and mosey on home. Of course the Talk of the Town is the last bar to empty out and their clientele usually is the loudest (read most intoxicated) people on the streets. And, when the bartenders of the Talk finish up their cleanup, they pull out a few benches into the middle of Elk Avenue and offer out a few Red Bulls.

This year I stopped by for one at about 3:00am. It was delicious.

Between 3:00am and 5:30am the crowd of riders dwindles to just a few. The fire at base camp is still tended and there are a few, highly dedicated volunteers taking care of the business of this event. It get’s quiet and it is a really great time to get in some laps. I did stop around 3:30am for a quick rest of the legs and some refueling — other than this one stop I had been going every moment since we began at 3:00pm.

It gets bit chilly at night with it being the coldest around 4:30am. I had two right hand gloves this year and they worked out well.

The sun cracks the air around 5:30am or so and it is another favorite time of mine. The dark night can get a bit weird with mind tricks and such, though once the sun peaks in, along with a good cup of coffee from Izzy’s, a sense of refreshed sets in. And it becomes another great time to pedal down.

I had no idea what I was going to do for breakfast this year prior to the ride. And about 7:00am it hit me hard that I needed to get some food. I was rolling down Elk Avenue when I noticed McGill’s was open — hot coffee, eggs, hashbrowns and an english muffin called me in. At first I planned to roll and eat though once I got in there, being served was awesome. So I sat at the bar in my suit and wig while enjoying a beautiful breakfast break on the road.

Later in the morning, at about 10:30 I hit my 100th lap. This is a milestone that always invigorates some more pedaling. As I kept riding and pedaling I was also doing math calculations to figure out if I had anytime for a break. And with my sight focused on 120 laps, I simply had to keep riding.

As we got into the last hour of riding, now 2:00pm, my math figures told me I better keep riding and I better ride fast. So I dug in and picked up the pace. I was spinning out my 115th lap at 2:00pm. I had 45 minutes to go before the ‘final lap’ which is another group celebration. So I spun.

I cranked out my laps — lap after lap. A big storm cloud came in and while it brought no rain it did bring wind. The head wind rolling uphill to the top of Elk was brutal. On my 118th and 119th lap I was standing up to keep my speed. However, when we hit Elk Avenue, that head wind was a tail wind and I hit just over 28 miles per hour as my overall maximum speed. I did roll my 199th lap with enough time to catch the group as we all pulled away from the Art’s Center Base Camp for our final lap — which was my 120th!

I would say this year’s event was incredibly well put together and supported. The Crested Butte community really brings it for this event. Many people place water, snacks, etc. along the route for riders. There was a young lady baking fresh cookies and brownies that she delivered on the side of the road in front of her house! And a young man stationed his lemonade stand along the route to supply the riders.

It is simply an amazing celebration of summer and bikes in Crested Butte. I highly recommend joining the 10th Annual Bridges of the Butte 24 Hour Townie Ride in 2014.

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