I’ve always loved the Buena Vista area, this part of Colorado has such a beautiful landscape and striking contrast. You can be down in the high desert valley riding your mountain bike through a maze of rock formations and pinion pines while the collegiate range with its snow covered peaks guards the valley from incoming storms.
Having lived in Park County Colorado for the last 8 years I’ve been coming down to the Arkansas valley for the dry, fairly warm winters and an abundance of great riding that can be year round. At only 35 minutes to BV and 55 minutes to Salida, this has become my go to winter riding spot. The riding in BV is great but was limited until the past few years when local business owners have raised quite a bit of money for trail work.
If you want to get miles in on dirt, there are a ton of options but now the trail network directly out of town is growing and I think in 5 years BV could be a riding destination on par with other spots in Colorado. This was a first year event put on by Chocolate Bunny Productions, who has put on enduro races and now several 12 hour endurance events. The Salida 720 last year was the first of these 12 hour races and now with this event ( Buena Vista 720) and a hopeful 3rd event in Colorado next year, they will have a nice 12 hour series going. The standard was definitely set at the Salida 720 for the type of course you can expect at these races, it was a mountain bikers course where bike handling skills were just as important as fitness. The BV course while not as technical as Salida was still a great mountain biking course and with more single track to be added next year will be a must do race for the future.
The race started in downtown Buena Vista with a short running start, then straight into the Barbara Whipple trail network and climbed up to county road 304 and out on the old rail road bed for a couple miles out to the Midland trail system. We then climbed up county road 376A for a mile to the start of Bacon bits, with twists and turns and bits of rock features dispersed throughout the trail. Bacon bits continues on into Midland trail proper that has similar riding to bacon bits, fun and moderately technical. After Midland trail you reconnect with 304 and back to Barbara Whipple trail system and on to Broken Boyfriend south, this is the hardest part of the course upping the ante with some harder rock features that add up over time. The last section of the course is a fun rip back down through Barbara Whipple back to the finish.
The first lap of the race I went out hard and chased a team guy for the entire lap, going a bit harder than I should have and I knew I was going to pay for it later in the race but it’s all about fun and it was a good time chasing some fast dudes around for the first couple laps.
After a few way too fast laps I settled into a more reasonable pace and cranked the laps out one at a time. I stayed hard on the gas all day long with consistent laps ending up averaging 1:04 lap times for the day on the 13.5 mile course.
This year I’m trying out a different Maxxis tire setup with an Aspen up front and a Recon race in the back, so far I’m sold on this combo and we’ll see how durable this will be after several hundred miles of racing, so far so good!
I figured I would do 10 laps and that’s what I prepared for, I came in off my 10th lap at 10 hours 50 minutes and definitely had time for one more lap but I had just lapped second and having finished 135 miles a beer was calling my name. This race is going to grow into a great event, the riding and town are already stellar and with the addition of more single track for next years race it’s going to be a must do event.