CO: Telluride - Gentleman's Loop

I've skied in Telluride numerous times, but had only passed through the area once or twice during warmer months. Today, that would change. The weather was looking perfect, I was mostly on schedule and I had a route in mind. The Gentleman's Loop utilizes the free town gondola to transport your bike from town (8750') up to the St. Sophia Station (10,535'). From there the route climbs to a bit over 11k after 4 1/2 miles. The ensuing 10+ miles are mostly downhill or level. Sounds like a good ride when on a bit of a time constraint.

The hardest part was finding a place to park for a few hours. I circled downtown a bit, weaved around some construction and finally nabbed a spot a few blocks from the gondola station. Three hours was the limit for on street parking, that should be plenty. Off I went.

The attendant at the gondola station wasn't the most friendly or helpful. She instructed me to get on the next gondola car, but there were no bike hooks. So, I figured she meant the next car, no hooks there either. So, I climbed inside the third car, bike & all. Nope. Get outta there!! Stand over here!! Two cars later I was cruising uphill over the lift towers. For the record, the bike hooks on the gondola cars are not equally spaced, seemed totally random. Strange.
The free elevation gain was nice for a change.

Lizard Head & 14er Mt. Wilson.

I have many winter photos from near this spot. Looks amazing any time of year.

The first half of the ride would follow the Prospect trail.

Sketchy Telluride airport runway jutting out to the end of the far mesa.

It was interesting to see a familiar place through different lenses.

Back & forth between thick forest and wide open ski runs.

The first couple of miles were fast & buff.

Like riding a landspeeder across Endor.

The San Juan mountains are easily my favorite in Colorado.

Gold Hill & Revelation lifts.

Almost to the top of Prospect. I did my fair share of HAB so far, I was ready for the long downhill.

The top of the Village area trails.

Now, we go down!!

Twists, turns, roots and long straightaways.

Entering the land of the multi-million dollar 'cabins'.

Sure would be fun to stay here for a week during ski season.

Or here.

All these homes have a fantastic summer trail system weaving through their community.

No fall-line trail here, berms, berms & more berms.

Zig zag down and across the bridge.

The trail dumps onto some paved neighborhood streets, then winds through the mountain village via bikepath.

This route was never short of scenery.

One of the more luxurious ski in/ski out properties we've stayed at. Group rate bus trips make it affordable.

The Boomerang trail is the shortcut back to town, I wanted the scenic route.

Jurassic trail.

Valley Floor trail finishes things off.

Thick Aspen grove near the beginning of the trail.

The final few miles were mostly level leading into town.

Giddy up!!

The singletrack gave way to a multi-use gravel path.

San Miguel River.

Back where I started right off the River Path.
I made it back to the car with plenty of time left on my parking meter. The Gentleman's Loop was a great introduction to the Telluride mountain biking scene. Plenty more to explore here.

Iconic view of the main drag in Telluride, Ajax Peak front & center.

Passing by Trout Lake on my way home. Have I mentioned I love the San Juan's??


CO: Monarch Crest - Fooses OnB

The car was loaded and heading south out of Breckenridge shortly after 5a. The outside temp gauge on my car read 39ยบ as I cleared Hoosier Pass, good thing I brought my puffy jacket.

It's a long haul back to the Valley of the Sun and I wanted to fit in a quick ride...or two?? The Monarch Crest was an obvious choice. I could do an out-n-back to where the Colorado Trail drops down Fooses Creek for a nice 10 mile high alpine spin.
Captivating early light in the Arkansas Valley.

Fire in the sky.

Collegiate Peaks overlook.

3 panel labeling of the Collegiate Peaks.

Monarch Pass was relatively quiet for an early Monday morning. I donned the jacket and began pedaling before 8a.
The trailhead is easy enough to find.

The Monarch Crest also doubles as the Continental Divide trail & Colorado Trail (Collegiate West)

The first mile follows a contour through the trees before dumping out on a chunky steep-ish dirt road for a bit.

Soon, the route is back on pristine singletrack flirting with treeline. Monarch Pass is on the far left where the pavement meets the ski runs.

US50 cuts a swath along the mountainside.

It was a perfect cool morning to be up here.

Some notable peaks to the south.

This is what makes the Crest so popular, easy access to singletrack above treeline. There's also the argument about the mega-long downhill for the shuttle riders. One of these days I'll do the full ride down to Poncha Springs.

I had the whole place to myself.

Singletrack to the edge of the Earth.

The ride season is short up here, get it while you can.

Postcard photos every which way.

The trail doesn't quite reach 12k, coming a few feet short.

Halfway to Marshall Pass from Monarch lies Fooses Creek.

Fooses is where the CT splits into an east & west section. Collegiate West is mostly Wilderness beyond US50, so bikers & CTR riders take Collegiate East.

I had to pause here for a few moments and reflect on my CTR. The Fooses downhill really changed my outlook on the entire ride.

Fooses Creek trail drops abruptly off the ridge, then mellows out for a few miles of downhill ripping.

Peaks to the north.

Looking south.

Time to head back. I wonder how I'd feel about this trail if I had come up it?

This was a particularly interesting area.
The shuttle riders must've been about 45 minutes behind me as I now began to see a steady stream of riders coming at me. I think I counted about 30 in total, everyone of them grinning ear-to-ear. Only one guy yelled at me in jest: 'You're going the wrong way!!' Ha!

Back at the car by 9:30a. Right on schedule.
I'm really glad a made the stop here. The Crest is a really fun ride with an abundance of payoff. Fooses was a solid choice for the out-n-back too, just long enough to feel that high alpine experience, yet short enough for a drive-by ride.

As long as I made good time through the Gunnison Valley, I had my sights set on an early afternoon ride in Telluride...