106MI, 9,843FT | 170KM, 3,000M+ · Thursday 29th June
Even though Stage 5 hit a high point above 12,000 feet (3,650m) in elevation, Stage 6 will feature the second most climbing of the Mavic Haute Route Rockies stages. And it will start from Mile Zero. Instead of descending back to the valley road from Snowmass Village, you’re going up. Thankfully it’s only about 2 miles (3.2km), followed by a descent that’s a mixture of gravel and pavement. The hardest part of the first 20 miles (32km) of Stage 6 is likely to be thermoregulation. Mornings in the Rockies are cold, but you’ll warm up quickly on the initial climb. Instead of removing layers, just open them up, because the longer descents will still be cold. Consider long finger gloves as well.
When you reach Highway 133, you will be at the beginning of a 22-mile (35km) gradual climb to the summit of McClure Pass. The good news is this a beautiful climb along the Crystal River, and the climb only kicks up to a difficult pitch for the final 2.5 miles (4km) past the one major switchback in the climb. Once you reach the summit of McClure Pass, enjoy the roughly 18-mile (29km) descent because the next 24 miles (39km) are going to hurt.
Kebler Pass is equal parts beautiful and tortuous. The vast majority of the climb is dirt and the views and sense of solitude are amazing – for the first hour. During the second hour you’re likely to question your sanity and whether your life insurance is paid up. Based on the length of this stage, this climb is another place where weather may come into play. During the 2014 USA Pro Challenge, the peloton was caught in a thunderstorm and hailstorm on Kebler Pass. It got so bad the officials brought the event to a halt on the descent. Robin Carpenter, the solo breakaway rider on the stage, pounded food during the unexpected break in the action, and then proceeded to maintain his advantage once racing resumed, winning the stage - which finished at the same spot you will finish Stage 6 of the Mavic Haute Route Rockies.
The final portion of the Kebler Pass is on pavement, but then the road turns back to dirt partway down the descent to Crested Butte. As you reach the town of Crested Butte, don’t make the mistake of thinking you’re done. Once you ride through the town you are still about 2 miles (3.2km) from the finish at Mount Crested Butte Ski Resort, which is also about 500 feet (150m) higher in elevation. The final mile is where the climb to the finish really stings. This may not look like a summit finish, but it absolutely feels like one.
Stage description by CTS
Nestled in the heart of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, Crested Butte is committed to preserving the pristine landscape and mountain lifestyle. With vibrant Victorian store fronts and expressive local characters, the small historic town remains true to its heritage and radiates an unparalleled welcoming and inviting spirit that celebrates a simpler life and time. Thanks to a widely diverse landscape, outdoor enthusiasts of all levels will find a new challenge with each visit. From world-class mountain biking, to legendary skiing and snowboarding, to a secluded fly-fishing experience, Crested Butte is one of Colorado’s best-kept secrets.
Everyone from beginners to adrenaline junkies can test their moxie at the Evolution Bike Park, which features 30 miles of lift-served singletrack. The park has 32 biking trails, a mixture of downhill and cross country trails that range from the manicured, flowy beginner Hotdogger, to the machine-built flow trail, Teaser, to the insanely steep and super-technical Captain Jack.
When we say there’s something for everyone, we mean it. Even the most skilled riders will be impressed with the diversity of expert-level trails. Are you on the hunt for an unparalleled adrenaline rush? Attack the nearly vertical boulder lines on Psycho Rocks. If you perform better under pressure, you’ll be happy to know the most intimidating section of the trail is located directly underneath the Red Lady Lift and the watchful eyes of the people swaying overhead.
There are also lift-accessed, cross country trails that link up with nearby world class trails, an astounding 750 miles of them, to be exact. Connect to the Snodgrass Trail via Lower Meander or take the aptly named Happy Hour trail, which connects you with the town of Crested Butte via the Upper Loop trail.
Crested Butte is a town where the outdoors is a mandatory way of life and where passion for the mountains radiates from everyone around. As the Wildflower Capital of Colorado and boasting some of the country’s most iconic hiking and mountain biking trails, CB should be on everyone’s list of places to visit this summer and beyond.