Ride Report: Doctor’s Park, Crested Butte, CO

My little brother Danny and I drove through Taylor Canyon, overflowing with excitement for our jam-packed two day trip of mountain bike shredding. We arrived at the Doctor’s Park trailhead around 5pm, after getting off of work earlier that day. It was later than we hoped, after finishing the task of packing enough peanut butter and jelly sandwhiches to feed my 22-year-old brother for two days.

Dark storm clouds loomed above, and I wondered out loud if we would get caught in a gnarly storm while we were exposed on the climb. The variable conditions made the start to the ride all the more exciting, since I feel most alive in the midst of unknowns and uncertainty.

Soaking up the epic Doctor’s Park descent.

Danny and I busted up the 8.5-mile dirt road climb to the double track, and I figured that if we could average a solid pace on this climb we would be set to finish the ride well before dark, since all we had with us were a couple of headlamps. According to Danny’s Garmin, we were averaging over 10 miles an hour, so my fears were eased as I focused on keeping my cadence up and breathing steady. Danny was a ways ahead of me, so I just got in my zone and hammered as bes I could.

Danny filled me in on our stats when he’d loop around to check on me, saying, “ go get em Pinky,” with a big smile. Pink is my signature color… hence the nickname.

After busting a lung up the dirt road climb, I was refreshed by the creek crossing as I carried my bike and shoes across to keep them dry, ready to tackle the double track that would take me to the epic singletrack descent I had been dreaming about.

I crossed the creek and got my shoes on a little faster than Danny, so I decided to make the most of my advantage up the ominous double track climb. I knew that soon enough he would leave me in his wake, and he did just that as the trail got windy and steep, with switchbacks that made me almost want to cry.  My back began to ache as I mashed my way up the steep, never-ending climb.  I found solace in gazing about at the heavenly view all around me, with the sunlight perfectly displaying the grandeur and majesty of the lush mountain meadows on the horizon.

Doctor’s Park. Photo: jeff.

I chugged along as I watched Danny cruise up the switchbacks at a ferocious pace, with a cadence resembling someone on a flat road ride. With each pedal stroke, I got hungrier for the descent.

We stopped, took some pics, I slammed some caffeinated mocha-flavored Gu, and then proceeded to drop in to the singletrack descent. The trail was lined with pine trees, resembling the forests of the Northwest. Then the forest transformed midway through the descent, and I found myself  whizzing through Aspen groves lined with wild flowers.

Singletrack through the aspens. Photo: jeff.

I was overcome by the surreal nature of this flowy descent, which required all my concentration for every tight twist, turn, and root in my path.  As I drank in the freshness all around me, I was amazed at how relaxed and light-hearted I felt on such a technical descent.  It was all very magical.  However, I had to get out of the way as Danny whizzed by. Our ride strategy was that Danny would give me a couple-minute head start to ensure that if I bit the dust, I wasn’t left broken, by myself, out on the trail.

Doctor’s Park. Photo: jeff.

All of a sudden, I was awoken from my dream as I was blasted out of the forest, the descent transformed into a desert trail full of loose dirt interspersed with jagged rocks. I had to use all of the mental energy I had left to stay smooth going down the tight switchbacks, testing my level of alertness at every turn. The ecstasy I had experienced on the descent through the aspens carried me through this section, and I told myself that I could not biff it now, because I was gonna finish this epic ride strong.

Final section. Photo: jeff.

It made sense that I had to pay my dues and ride something that required a little bit of grit, since the previous section was so blissful. Finishing this ride with such a challenging section added serious thrill and adrenaline to the overall experience, making it even more satisfying. My love for challenge and adventure was totally satisfied!

Yes, Doctor’s Park was everything I expected and more. Our end time was around 2 hours 30 minutes, and I was officially spent, but in a happy, tired, euphoric state. I found a nice bush to change behind, and we hopped in the car and headed to town for a celebratory dinner, and route planning for day 2 of our epic shred fest in Crested Butte.

Jenny works at Absolute Bikes in Salida, Colorado, teaches elementary school kids how to mountain bike, and coaches the Salida High School mountain bike team. She thrives off of seeing how she can push her mind and body with long rides, lots of altitude gain, and technical sections, but also enjoys social town rides, where she cruises around town sporting her fairy wings and a pink boa. Click here to check out her blog, Hot Pink Adventures.

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