Whether you’re a passionate leaf peeper, dedicated big mountain rider, or simply seeking a great way to spend a fall weekend in Colorado, the first annual RTR Getaway Cottonwood Classic has something for you.

Starting and finishing in Crested Butte, this 194-mile, three-day semi-supported tour makes a clockwise loop around the heart of Colorado’s central Rockies. Along the way you’ll climb up and over some of the state’s most iconic climbs, including  the newly paved Cottonwood Pass, Monarch Pass, and Ohio Pass. Total uphill pedaling for this long weekend, October 1-3, 2021, is just a shade under 13,400 feet, all of it above 7,000 feet, including the tour’s highpoint of 12,126 feet atop Cottonwood Pass.

Overnight Towns:

  • Thursday, September 30, 2021 – Packet Pick-up: Crested Butte
  • Friday, October 1, 2021 – Salida
  • Saturday, October 2, 2021 – Gunnison
  • Sunday, October 3, 2021 – Crested Butte

Registration Information:

Limited to 200 cyclists.
Registration is on a first come, first served.

 

Hotel Lodging & Baggage Transport:

COVID: RTR Getaways follow all Federal, State and Local COVID mandates.   The safety and well-being of our participants is paramount and we stay up to date on what is the best COVID mitigation practice.  We are confident that everyone involved will remain safe from COVID-19.

Reminder: This is a self to semi-supported bike tour. We will provide a detailed route guide highlighting facilities, water stations, convenience stores, great food stops and historic/scenic landmarks.  More details on what a self to semi-supported bike tour means.

Register for the Cottonwood Classic today!


Day 1  – Friday, October 1
Crested Butte to Salida
93.6 Miles/5,595’ Approximate Elevation Gain
Highlight: Cottonwood Pass

Ride the Rockies regulars will be familiar with this classic route the starts in the famed Colorado ski town of Crested Butte. After a leisurely spin south on Colorado Highway 135, you’ll turn east and head skyward. First up, the short but punchy Jack’s Cabin Cutoff climb, which includes a short section of packed dirt road. After reaching the rounded summit and dropping down the backside of Jack’s, riders will turn left onto Taylor Canyon Road and essentially be climbing for the next 33 miles.

Don’t worry, though. The grade is gradual and the scenery sublime. Highlights include the Taylor River, Taylor Park, Taylor Reservoir, grand high mountain views, and the ascent to the summit of Cottonwood Pass and the Continental Divide. The core final leg of this climb is 12.4 miles, averages 3.9 percent, and gains 2,570 feet. And for those who haven’t ridden here in a few years, you’ll be happy to know that the west side of the pass is now paved in buttery smooth blacktop.

Up top, snap a photo in front of the summit sign, then clip in for the long, winding descent down the east side of the pass and on into Buena Vista, where you can top off water bottles and replenish fuel stores before making the mostly flat, southerly spin south on US Highway 285 and CO 291 to the day’s finish in Salida.

Reminder: This is a self to semi-supported bike tour. We will provide a detailed route guide highlighting facilities, water stations, convenience stores, great food stops and historic/scenic landmarks.


Day 2 – Saturday, October 2
Salida to Gunnison
66.1 Miles/5,139’ Approximate Elevation Gain
Highlights: Monarch Pass

Another staple route of Ride the Rockies, Day 2 of the Cottonwood Classic heads back west from Salida to Gunnison. And just like the previous day, you’ll be going uphill for a long time, starting at 7,083 feet and topping out at 11,312 feet at the summit of Monarch Pass. But once again the grade is gradual, rarely lifting above 5 percent on US Highway 50, which has ample shoulder for cyclists.

At the top at mile 23.8, poke your head in the gift shop and grab another summit sign selfie, then continue west on the extended 10-mile downhill to the small hamlet of Sargents. With just a few gentle switchbacks, this descent is a cyclist’s dream, requiring almost no pedaling or braking.

From there it’s a mostly flat valley spin to the finish in Gunnison. Just be sure to save a little energy and find some drafting buddies for these final miles. The wind often blows from the west, which could mean you’ll be battling a headwind for 30-plus miles.

Reminder: This is a self to semi-supported bike tour. We will provide a detailed route guide highlighting facilities, water stations, convenience stores, great food stops and historic/scenic landmarks.


Day 3 – Sunday, October 3
Gunnison to Crested Butte
34.3 Miles/2,662’ Approximate Elevation Gain
Highlights: Ohio Pass and Kebler Pass

Though by far the shortest day, the final leg of the Cottonwood Classic is not without its challenges. After spinning north away from Gunnison on CO 135, the route bends northwest onto Ohio Creek Road, rolling past pastoral horse farms. At mile 16.2 things get even more interesting when pavement gives way to packed dirt. Don’t fret, though. This just means things are about to get good.

Indeed, over the next 10 miles the lightly traveled road gently rises, passing the western flank of conical Carbon Peak, then ducking deep into the Gunnison National Forrest, where an expansive Aspen grove awaits. Expect to be wowed by a sea of shimmering golden leaves as you grind your way to the Ohio Pass summit around 10,100 feet.

From there the route gently rolls through thick forest for the next few miles, offering sporadic — and spectacular — views of the nearby Anthracite Mountains and the distant Castles rock formation. Make sure to stop and take a look. It’s a truly unique sight.

Finally, the route briefly returns to pavement as it feeds onto Kebler Pass Road for the gradual descent into Crested Butte. Pavement again yields to packed dirt at the Y-intersection for Irwin Lake, but the dirt is typically boilerplate smooth and it’s only four miles before you’re back on pavement and headed to the final finish line.

Reminder: This is a self to semi-supported bike tour. We will provide a detailed route guide highlighting facilities, water stations, convenience stores, great food stops and historic/scenic landmarks.


All proceeds from the RTR Getaways: Cottonwood Classic will benefit the Denver Post Community Foundation.  The Denver Post Community Foundation is a 501c3 nonprofit organization that serves to improve and enrich the lives of those in our community through support of programs that benefit arts and culture; children and youth; education and literacy; and the provision of basic human services. For more information, visit denverpostcommunity.com .