Wake up with a bang. At the east end of Elk Avenue in downtown Crested Butte, Colorado, you might be drawn to the aroma of coffee roasting on Wednesdays and Sundays. Go for a cup of the Hero Day blend, or just get a pound and be a happier person
This place is the bomb. Winter summer and in between. It's dark, it's big and it's hip, right downtown in the middle of everything.
Start out with the Meat Candy: Grilled pork shanks on a stick with a crazy dry spice rub, and Carolina-style sauce for sipping. Even the pineapple slaw will disappear. The Stuffed Mushies are another winner: Garlic, red peppers and goat cheese. For pizza, we'd say the Notorious F.I.G.: Mozzarella, bleu and Asiago cheeses, prosciutto, dried black mission figs with a nice hint of truffle oil. Bam.
Is this heaven?
Big Al is a big personality. After moving to Crested Butte to become a pro snowboarder, a broken ankle set her on a different course.
“When spring came around, I said, 'What do we do now' and they said, 'now, we go mountain biking.'”
That was more than 10 years ago, and since then not only did she fall for bikes, she fell for bike shops. So much that she opened her own.
Big Al's Bicylce Heaven is a core shop for any trail head. You can wash your bike off around back, get professional and quick service up front and all the beta you need for the rides, some which stretch off the front porch.
“I think we have 750 miles of trails, and right out the front door,” she said.
Teocalli Ridge Trail
Up Brush Creek Road, this bruiser of a classic is up there with the 401 Trail, Doctor's Park and the Dyke Trail. This is must-do for hungry mountain bikers in Crested Butte. The 10.5-mile loop starts with a nice 7 mile, 2,200-foot grinder with a traverse across a high country mountainside to a stunning overlook before bombing a ridge into an incredible aspen grove, with invigorating switchbacks. It all wraps up with flat-out hauling turns through an open meadow.
Afterward, hit up the Teocalli Tamale in town for a margarita and tacos.
This place is a trail paradise, just ask any of the countless mountain bikers you'll see everywhere when there isn't snow all over everything. But it's not just the bikers who are lured to the dirt.
“There are trails everywhere around you,” says professional trail runner Stevie Kremer. “You can stay flat or you can go on and climb peaks. They're all well marked, I feel confident on them. It's a trail runner's paradise.”
From downtown, head east up Peanut Lake Road to the 1.5-mile-long Woods Walk, or pick up the Lower Loop trails along the Slate River for charming singletrack and stirring views of the Elk Mountains.