2015 Sufferfest Colorado Trip


This past weekend I joined some good friends on a yearly gathering for high elevation mountain biking in Crested Butte and surrounding areas. The trip is jokingly named Sufferfest because of the long climbs at high elevation, normally between 9,000 feet and 12,000 feet. The rides get bigger as the trip goes on ending in the Kenosha to Breckenridge ride which covers about 5,000 feet of climbing in just over 30 miles. We spend four days riding famous trails over the holiday weekend. Spending time with great people, lots of climbing, lots of technical fun descents, and the beauty of Colorado.

My freshly reassembled Ibis HD3 out of the bike bag ready to hit some Colorado trails


Day One, Dr. Park Trail – Garmin Data

The climb to the top of Dr. Park starts on a dirt road evolving into double track, and lastly single track. The creek crossing at about the half way point is cold from the melting snow but such a great aspect of the ride for me, it’s just part of the experience.

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The descent of Dr. Park starts with some technical rocks, moving on to a flow and pump section that begs for you to let go of any brakes and feel the wind in your face. The last section of the down is more arid and has larger rocks. There are some great switchbacks to drop you the last few hundred feet of the ride.

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Day Two, Hartman Rocks Trail – Garmin Data

The Hartman Rocks trail was a day of change to ride dry trail as Crested Butte had a lot of rainfall on day one. The terrain was exposed to the sky, full of smaller climbs and descents, usually with exposed large rock structures.

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Day Three, Monarch Crest Trail – Garmin Data

Riding Monarch Crest is a big day. The ride starts above 11,000 feet elevation climbs up from there. This ride beat me up last year, and I was nervous about it going into this trip. This year there were clouds on the mountain that we climbed up and through. It was a pretty neat experience.

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As the day went on the sky’s cleared and we were treated to the great views that Monarch has to offer. The trail’s climbs, descents, and views make it an all time favorite which I was able to enjoy this year without bonking. To be fair, we did bail out before the Rainbows section this year.

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In between all of these great rides were good times spent around a campfire or eating at a local restaurant. At night, we were often treated to endless stars.

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Day Four, Kenosha To Breckenridge Trail – Garmin Data

The big ride, this one had me nervous. We cross three mountain passes climbing almost 5,000 feet over the course of the 32 mile ride. The first pass we climb is Georgia Pass, a 12,000 foot peak. The climb is filled to the brim with rocks and roots making every foot of the climb work. You get above tree line at around 11,300 feet on this ride, a rewarding experience.

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The descent on the backside of Georgia Pass is filled with technical rock sections and switchbacks.


The second climb is steep and mean, but once crested, the hardest parts of the ride were conquered. I was in a happy place once I started down the second descent. I knew I was going to finish the ride, and my goal for the trip, to ride every mile.

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The ride ends with a handful of tight switchbacks arriving in Breckenridge. Last year when I watched friends from the sideline make that final descent, I had big aspirations of being able to finish the ride in the future. This year, I did. I ended the weekend with 12,500 feet climbed at high elevation. Every switchback of the last descent felt like a victory lap of personal accomplishment. I was in a happy, but tired place.


And with that last switchback, the trip was over. Bikes packed, planes boarded, and headed back to Illinois as I type this. Colorado is a special place and I feel privileged to have experienced a small piece of it with such good people. Another great cycling trip transitioned from great times to great memories.

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Today On A Bike

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This weekend I joined some friends and club members for a Kettle Moraine mountain bike day trip. It was a lot of fun with great weather, good friends, and good trails. The type of summer ride that summers are measured by in terms of riding.

It was also my first ride on my new Ibis HD3. I was excited to see how it fared against the hype I’ve read for what feels like a year. Before we set off, we stopped by La Grange General Store, a neat homey place with sandwiches, beer selection to appeal to bikers, and a bike shop. You should swing by there if you ride Kettle.

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After deciding what groups were going to ride together based on desired distance and effort, I hit start on my Garmin.

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The trails were neat. I rode the blue loop on fatbikes during winter a while back, but this was my first time on dirt there. The trails were a largely dirt based single track with rock and sand sprinkled throughout. There were a handful of fun downs to get a feel for how the Ibis handled some chop. I’ve never felt plushness and control like how this bike eats up rock gardens and drops. It track straight as an arrow with the help of the Rock Shox Pike, through axles on both ends, and the 41mm wide Derby rims. Comfort and precision would be the simple explanation of how I feel about its downhill personality. The bike also climbs better than my expectations, which were quite high. The bike pedals unbelievably well. I was chasing purpose-built cross-country race machines and having no trouble keeping pace. Wow, no other words.

After we finished the John Muir trails, we rode the connector to the Emma Carlin trail system. It had more tech, but the trials seemed to not give equal amounts of payback for the climbs. I enjoyed the John Muir and Connector trails more, but both were good. We took a break at the turn around point before riding back to the trailhead to end the ride.

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As if the day wasn’t awesome enough, our transportation to and from was a good friends new Sprinter. Talk about the perfect travel MTB vehicle.

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It was one of those days that makes a summer. Good times, good people, and smiles.

Ride Data

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2015 Giant City Trip

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Spring brings a lot great things. Warm weather, color to a bland pallet of nature, group rides grow in size, and for some good friends and I, our spring trip to Shawnee National Forest area of Illinois to enjoy four days on road bikes. This is my third year joining the trip and I seem to enjoy every year more-so than the previous.

I enjoy the scenery and the memorable times with friends and teammates more than ever. Either one would be worth the trip alone. The riding is good, the people are good, the smiles are real. The relaxing among common minded folk is great. This trip perfectly encapsulates what I love about cycling.

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The colors of spring are great…

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The lodging at Giant City Lodge are great. It makes the team building and social aspects of the weekend better. I’ve stayed in the smaller two bed cabins every year. I smile when I walk into that little yellow tinted slice of a time before, antenna television set included.

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The riding was good this year. The weather was in the 50º’s and 60ºs F. The sun shined some days, the raindrops were few and far between. I ended the four-day trip with 202.3 miles ridden and 14,239 feet climbed according to the little black Garmin box…

The weekend’s non riding was on par with the great rides. Wine tasting party, Sculpin Grapefruit IPA’s discovered, a breathalyzer provided more than a few smiles, and a number of amazing quotes and memories.

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2016’s return trip is already a thing to look forward to. Until then, time to enjoy some sunshine and rides with good friends.

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Day 1 Ride Data
Day 2 Ride Data
Day 3 Ride Data
Day 4 Ride Data

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2014 Sufferfest Colorado Trip

Crested Butte Paradise Valley PinkThis past weekend I joined some great friends for a Colorado mountain bike trip. We spent time in Crested Butte and other surrounding areas. The trip was filled with high mountain rides, great company, and beautiful views. The climbs were long and the descents a combination of awesome and challenging!

Reno Flag Bear Deadman Trail – Garmin Data
2014-08-29 12.08.51-3 2014-08-29 13.51.13 2014-08-29 14.43.39Taking a break we meet a local.
2014-08-29 13.57.56-2 2014-08-29 15.02.26 2014-08-29 14.49.30 2014-08-29 16.07.52Our Condo in Crested Butte was great!
2014-08-30 07.45.08Dr. Park Trail – Garmin Data
This year I rode all the way from the bottom to the top. The climb starts on tarmac, turns into a dirt road, then double track, and lastly single track.
2014-08-30 11.14.19This creek crossing is where we started riding up last year after taking a shuttle. It was really cool to be there again.
2014-08-30 11.35.45 2014-08-30 12.31.49 After the climb to the top you transverse through some woods until the decent starts.
2014-08-30 13.25.44 2014-08-30 13.42.11The last section of Dr. Park is more arid and filled with fun switchbacks and tech.
2014-08-30 14.06.07 2014-08-30 14.12.06After riding that night I joined a friend to take some pictures in the mountains. The first and last picture of this post come from setups like this.
2014-08-30 19.48.12Monarch Crest Trail – Garmin Data
The Monarch Crest ride was amazing and brutal. The ride starts at over 11,000 feet of elevation and was just under 30 miles and 3,300 feet of climbing. The ride was filled with riding above the treeline and technical descents. I found new meaning to the word bonking on this ride.
2014-08-31 11.02.56 2014-08-31 10.57.50 2014-08-31 11.00.08The views were stunning!
2014-08-31 11.11.23 2014-08-31 11.26.49The descents were really fun!
2014-08-31 12.30.11-4I found myself in trouble during a quick wiggle during a fast section and I donated a touch of blood to Colorado.
2014-08-31 13.21.41Kenosha To Georgia Pass – Garmin Data
This was the last and biggest ride of the trip. I took a bail out after descending Georgia Pass. The climb up to Georgia Pass was the biggest climb I’ve ever done and the descent was the most technical and hardest trail I’ve ever seen.

We grabbed lunch on the top of a rock half way up to Georgia Pass.
2014-09-01 11.10.30The view from Georgia Pass was vast and impressive!
2014-09-01 12.35.47The descent (at least the parts I didn’t walk) were great!
2014-09-01 11.57.39-4 2014-09-01 03.50.05-3The trip was tough and really enjoyable! I can’t wait to go back to Colorado!
Crested Butte Paradise Valley Purple

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2014 Giant City Trip

2014-04-27 11.31.34This weekend I joined some teammates and friends at the Giant City Lodge in southern Illinois for four days of riding, smiling, and making memories. The weather, roads, and company were great. We set out Thursday on the first ride of the trip with 13 riders.
2014-04-24 14.11.31The weekend was filled with climbing hills and being treated to great views for Illinois.
2014-04-24 15.37.40 2014-04-24 15.40.32 2014-04-24 15.58.32The lodging was great and the breakfasts were as good as I remembered from last year.
2014-04-25 09.29.15Day 1’s Garmin Data

Friday I wore the Illinois State Champ jersey and put in a hard ride with the group. I felt a bit guilty wearing it on the road as I earned it on a mountain bike, but I think I did it justice, although it drained me for the next days ride.
2014-04-25 11.18.32 2014-04-25 13.19.38 2014-04-25 13.44.04 2014-04-25 15.07.27Day 2’s Garmin Data

Saturday I paid greatly for my efforts from the previous day’s ride. I didn’t make any long pulls and sat in the pack for most of the day.
2014-04-26 10.53.38 2014-04-25 10.37.23 2014-04-26 12.51.03Day 3’s Garmin Data

Sunday we set off for an easier recovery ride. There was an effort towards the end of the ride as we rolled back to the lodge.
2014-04-27 16.14.57Day 4’s Garmin Data

The roads were great and a key ingredient to the weekends enjoyment. There is a short but painfully steep hill near the cabin that is a staple for the ride named Baptist Hill. I believe the incline percent tops out around 20%. Pictures don’t do the snail crawling leg burning it induces justice.
2014-04-27 11.24.28The roads in general are filled with curves, rock formations, and hills.
2014-04-27 11.32.472014-04-27 11.18.05 2014-04-27 11.38.27I ended the weekend with 187.18 miles ridden, 10,632 feet climbed, 5,862 calories burned, and set a new personal record for fastest speed down one of the hills hitting 47.5 miles per hour. I can’t wait for next year!

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Crested Butte, Colorado Trip

Great trip with amazing people, mind blowing trails, and countless memories!

Drive In
2013-07-26-20.55.13_sContinental Divide Cottonwood Pass (Elevation 12,126′)
2013-07-27 11.53.28_s2013-07-27 12.41.17_s2013-07-27 12.57.51-1_sArrived at our condo, this was the view directly behind it
2013-07-27 14.23.13_sSnodgrass Trail (Garmin Data)
2013-07-27 16.53.13_s2013-07-27 17.13.25_sRain Day
2013-07-28 13.38.21_s2013-07-28 13.11.01_sDoctor Park Trail (Garmin Data)
No Camera, favorite trail of the trip though!

401 Trail (Garmin Data)
2013-07-29 16.09.10_s2013-07-29 16.22.56_s2013-07-29 16.32.29_s2013-07-29 16.34.41_s2013-07-29 17.01.03_sMoving from a rented condo to the campground
2013-07-30 08.36.03_sStrand Hill (Garmin Data)
2013-07-30 11.09.11_sDyke Trail (Garmin Data)
2013-07-30 15.20.08_sLower & Upper Lower Loop Trails (Garmin Data)
2013-07-31 14.14.00_sSaying goodbye’s over a campfire under the best stars I’ve ever seen.

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