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East Vail Chutes: Bike & Camp

Posted August 27, 2014 @ 2:11pm | by Beau Schwab

East Vail Chutes, Mountain Biking, Black and White PhotographyAll right y’all its time to break the silence. Seriously, it’s been way too long. I’ve been out here in Colorado for almost a year now and quite frankly I’ve been real distracted with all this neatness in one place. Everyone’s getting super hyped for this upcoming season, people are down south of the Equator tearing it up left and right which is nothing short of awesome.

If you haven’t ever made it to the south for some summer turns I would highly recommend it, however getting on a 787 is a little harder than hopping on the ‘ol bicycle grabbing a piece of summer sanity. Many winter folks take to riding around the woods or roads on two wheels during the summer, I’m one of them.

Last weekend I put together the pinnacle camping trip of the summer, biking and camping, in Vail. I have never done a camping trip on a bike before and neither had my two comrades, so it was a bit of a learning experience. First lesson learned; riding with a thirty-pound pack does not make one very nimble on a mountain bike.

We took the Lionshead gondola up to the top of Vail where we could access the Main Vail Road, a four-mile road expanding from one end of resort to the other. At the top of chair 21 we hopped off the bikes and hiked up a small cliff with the packs and then went back for the bikes. Interesting scrambling up and down loose rock in your cleats…

At this point the trail turns into a well-packed single track with tall grass on either side. It takes a lot of focus to keep you bars straight with all the extra weight. It’s also tough to keep your head straight due to the natural green beauty of the back bowls in the summer time. It all looks like one big green golf course back there this time of year. This portion of the trail is called the Commando Run Connecter. It’s about a half mile long and primarily uphill. The good news is, once you reach the top of the connecter it’s all down hill on the Mill Creek road to the top of the East Vail Chutes.

We started our ride at 1:30 pm. By 4:00 pm the tents were pitched on the edge of the chutes and we were sipping on Bullet rye collecting firewood. The sunset on the Gore Range was stunning, not a breath of wind, clear sky’s and warm weather. As the moon rose over the mountains we checked in. Usually the goal is to be as minimalistic as possible but the extra two pounds the jam box and iPod added to my pack was well worth it.East Vail Mountain Bike Chutes

Up and at ‘em the next morning for oatmeal and percolated coffee. I’d like to give a piece of my mind to the guy who thought a plastic window in place of a glass one on a percolator was a good idea…dingus.

After putting out the fire we hopped on our bikes for more fun. There is nothing like waking up on top of a five-mile downhill stretch with your bike. Sure we had big packs on but after eating (and drinking) everything we brought up and minimalizing water weight, it only took a few hops off the first couple of water bars on the Mill Creek road to get comfortable. Send it.

We made it all the way back to Lionshead with about a hundred yards left to the ride when my buddy Chris took a nasty spill on the pavement. Typical to make it through an entire ride with no falls or mechanical issues until the bitter end; he limped over to Los Amigos with us and was feeling better in no time!

The lift ticket up was only $18 bucks. Not a bad deal for how much vertical it gives. The ticket office resembled President’s Day weekend a.k.a. a mob scene. I have to hand it to Vail Resorts though, they sure do know how to handle a crowd. If you’re going to try and do something like this over the weekend, keep in mind the Vail farmer’s market attracts a sizable number of people and the parking lot will fill up. Lionshead is a short walk and offers additional parking.

East Vail Sunrise, Camping, Mountain Biking
Camping at East Vail Chutes

East Vail Mill Creek Look Out MTB

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