I wish all my doctor visits were this pleasant.
A few days ago, my buddy Dave and I rode Doctor Park, a classic mountain biking trail near Crested Butte, Colorado.
This summer I have ridden several trails in the area, but before leaving the Butte, I wanted to do something epic—a challenging adventure that would stick in my memory.
Originally we wanted to ride the 401, but by July there were still snowdrifts up to 20 feet high in sections. So we headed to the Doctor. With 20 miles total and a blue/black rating, the good Doc seemed to fit my “epic” expectations. MTB Project calls it the #16 trail in Colorado.
Oh, and I’ve searched and searched about the origins of the name, but all I’ve come up with is that the locals named it that because it’s so fun that “it cures whatever is ailing you.” This would soon make sense.
We started the ride with a frigid knee-deep stream crossing. At just after 9 a.m., the water felt invigorating as we waded downstream from a pair of fly fishermen. We bypassed most of the monotonous road climb, thanks to a shuttle from my lovely wife. So we started right in the thick of the uphill jeep trail.
Then it was time to foot the bill, because no doctor visit is cheap. The next two miles were steady climbing, probably about 2,000 vertical feet total. Our sweat equity eventually rewarded us with nearly six miles of pristine downhill single track through the trees, with only about 50 vertical feet uphill from there on out. Yes!
The trail gets quite rocky and technical in sections at the beginning and end, but a cruiser three miles in the middle keeps it enjoyable. Flying through Aspen trees on the smooth single track, I felt joy—pure joy. I prayed several times, thanking God for the experience. I enjoy many outdoor sports, but on this day I was especially loving mountain biking.
What made the day that much more fun was riding with Dave, a good adventure buddy of mine who is always up for something. He’s as tough as a mountain goat and super outdoor-savvy. On past summers, we’ve always seemed to find a way to squeeze in a great climb, or some type of singletrack shenanigan.
Our ride finished with several hairy sections. I think the writer from mtbhome.com nailed it: “exposure, switchbacks and off-camber rocks and cinder blocks that make it feel like you’ll fall off the world if you make a mistake.” We were not ashamed to walk around some of those sections. There is at least one where a boulder completely blocks a trail. Unless you have mastered the art of levitaton, it’s hard to call that spot rideable.
This ride was a great wrap up to a stellar summer. Being around good friends, and re-engaging with work that we are passionate about brought a huge lift to our souls—effects that we will feel for weeks to come. It was hard to pack up our truck and leave the area a few days later, but Elizabeth and I were so grateful for the experience. We may even be back to the Butte again next year. This was my third summer in CB.
And if we do return, you can be sure I will make a follow up appointment with the good Doctor soon—very soon.
P.S. Here’s some more great footage of Doctor Park. Though, it’s not of Dave and I (probably pro riders). Some day maybe.