My Trail: Jari Kirkland’s Aspen-filled Final Frontier

Photo: Morgan Meredith

Photo: Morgan Meredith

Words: Brice Minnigh

THE TRAIL: While Crested Butte is renowned for world-class trails like the 401, Deadman’s Gulch and Teocali Ridge, locals routinely venture just beyond town to lesserknown singletrack—a favorite is Doctor Park, a loop of about 20 miles that offers a bit of everything. After several miles of steady climbing, the trail gives way to fast, flowy big-ring cruising through alpine meadows, followed by tree-shaded technical descents.

"The downhill [of Doctor Park] is so much fun. You start off just hauling ass through a meadow, then into the trees, where it gets really technical. Then comes the part we call 'Star Wars'-the trees are just blowing by you, and it feels like you're going at light speed. It's just incredible."

“The downhill of Doctor Park is so much fun. You start off just hauling ass through a meadow, then into the trees, where it gets really technical. Then comes the part we call ‘Star Wars’—the trees are just blowing by you, and it feels like you’re going at light speed. It’s just incredible.”

THE RIDER: Jari Kirkland, 33, is one of the country’s top female endurance athletes, and she’s known as a tireless adventure racer. As the lone woman on the elite, four-person Team Salomon/Crested Butte adventure-racing squad, Jari keeps her three male partners honest in expedition-level races such as the Primal Quest. She also holds a female course record for the high-altitude, 24-hour Montezuma’s Revenge race, and in the 24 Hours of Moab she has topped the women’s division three times. In the 2007 Moab event, she crushed the men’s field as well, finishing second overall, with only Chris Eatough ahead of her.

THE TOWN: Crested Butte has been a mountain biking haven since the sport’s genesis. Its high-alpine trails offer endless challenges and intoxicating views of remote, wildflower-filled meadows backed by rugged peaks. Home to the Mountain Bike Hall of Fame, the town has a decidedly bike-friendly ethos, and hosts several iconic mountain bike events, including the riotous annual Chainless DH race.

THE HERITAGE: Crested Butte lays claim to one of mountain biking’s first events, the Pearl Pass Mountain Bike Tour—a 39-mile slog from Crested Butte to Aspen across the oxygen-deprived Pearl Pass. The tour dates back to 1976, when a group of locals decided to ride the pass on their cobbled-together cruisers. Each September, mountain bikers converge on the town to complete the tour and tip their helmets to some of the sport’s irreverent forefathers.

Sept/Oct 2009 cover This content was originally published in Bike’s Sept/Oct 2009 issue.

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