Touted as “the planet’s oldest mountain bike festival”, Crested Butte, Colorado’s Fat Tire Bike Week celebrates its 30th anniversary this year with six jam-packed days of knobby-themed activities including skills clinics, tech expos, supported rides, free concerts, a full complement of races (including a chainless race down Kebler Pass), and even a unique 24-hour two-wheeled tour of area bridges.
Luckily for me, Crested Butte sits relatively close to my home base of Boulder so after a scenic five-hour drive across the Colorado high country, we’re already on site and will be on hand throughout the event to bring you some of the key highlights.
Yet even without the FTBW festivities, the town of Crested Butte itself holds a pretty special place in mountain biking lore, being one of the parallel birthplaces of the sport – along with Marin County, California – and also the home of the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, which conveniently sits right downtown. Not to be overlooked, too, is the area’s wide variety of breathtaking terrain afforded by its high-altitude setting of 2,800m (9,300ft) including the legendary 401, Deer Creek, and Dyke trails.
Those stunning blasts through thick aspen stands under gleaming blue skies do come with one caveat, though: the air’s awfully thin up here and there’s more than enough climbing to go around. True, I do live at 1,600m (5,400ft) already but tacking more than another full kilometer of altitude isn’t exactly trivial.
And as I like to point out on occasion, living at altitude is no substitute for fitness.