Reno divide is the first leg of a four part ride outside of Crested Butte. The order of the rides goes like this:
To start the ride up Reno Divide you must first find Cement Creek Road. Cement Creek Road is about 7 miles south of Crested Butte on Highway 135. The trailhead for this ride lies 7 miles up Cement Creek Road and is surrounded by beautiful deciduous trees.
As Cindy dropped me here and then headed to a hike up a portion of the Slate River, I noticed there were four other mountain bikers getting ready to ride. Even though I rode out of the parking area first, I had an idea I would see these guys again.
The first 2 miles of riding was just a continuation of my drive with Cindy, following Cement Creek Road until it branched.
I took FS 759, a well maintained dirt road toward the Divide. This trek to Reno Divide is 3.7 miles of pretty steep climbing on a fire road as smooth as a freeway with nothing to look at… except trees. I take that back. There were the demolished remnants of an old homesteader cabin a mile or so up the grade.
Please enjoy this interactive map which shows not only Reno Divide, but also the other three legs of this scenic loop. This first leg of the loop is shown by the orange and red segments.
This grind gave me time to think about a lot of things (and keep my mind off my burning legs). I thought about how lucky I was to be here, in the Rocky Mountains, in a thickly forested wilderness. I thought about how thin the air is up here compared to home.
I thought about the Mt. Crested Butte bike shop worker, who probably had his doubts that I could make this ride. He had said, “Reno-Flag-Bear-Deadman’s is a great ride … pretty demanding … more than 20 miles … but well worth the effort.
(I later found out that these were really parts of roads and trails linked together; Reno Divide Road, Flag Creek Trail, Bear Creek Trail, and Deadman’s Gulch Trail).
I was also thinking Cindy was right, once again. She said this area was probably called “Cement Creek” because of the type of rock in the area (I told her there most likely was a concrete company up here somewhere.) She had told me some types of breccia rock looked just like cement. Sure enough, when I had looked at the cut banks along this road I saw the breccia, and it looked just like someone had broken off a building foundation. I was thinking about how often she taught me things when I heard voices behind me.
Three mountain bikers (the ones who were getting ready when I left) blew by me like I was standing still. As they passed they yelled they had a fourth rider coming but, “he was hurtin.” They all laughed at that comment, but I didn’t… I knew what he was feeling. I dug a little deeper… hoping I could beat at least one of them to the top.
Soon I got to the only place on this road where there actually was a view. The trees cleared and what appeared below were the remnants of the old pioneer cabin.
I couldn’t help thinking that living up here in the winter must have been miserable. I took photos quickly and pressed on… not wanting to get passed by that 4th rider.
About 100 yards from what turned out to be the top I came across the three riders that had passed me on the hill. One of them was just about finished changing a flat tire. (I’ve had my share of flats but never gotten one on this type of surface!) So … it turned out that I beat them all to the divide!! The only others to pass me on the grade were an older couple in brand new station wagon, and an overweight quad (all terrain vehicle) rider.
As I reached the top of the divide I found a giant hub of dirt roads and trails. Flag Creek was straight ahead but I made a hard right, climbed just a little more, and came to a flat mountain top with a 360 degree view of everything.
I “de-biked” and took pictures, video, and would have liked to have eaten my snack… if not for the 30 mph wind blowing on my steaming, sweat-soaked body. I quickly got my photos and headed back to the intersection, where the four bikers were just coming up the trail.
I rode over to the sign for Flag Creek, got off my bike, studied the sign and gazed down the mountain at the next part of my trip. The Flag Creek Trail was going to be a good one.
Click below to continue this loop.
To return to all the Crested Butte rides click Crested Butte Mountain Biking