Crested Butte Complete

Brittany Konsella rode all 750 miles of singletrack in the Gunnison Valley solo to celebrate the spirit of singletrack community and trailbuilding work ethos of CBMBA.

The wild reaches of the Gunnison Valley have the highest concentration of singletrack for mountain biking in North America. And bikers can praise the Crested Butte Mountain Bike Association (CBMBA, pronounced simba), the oldest mountain bike club in the world for this dirt-track paradise. Launched by locals in 1983, the grassroots organization began creating and maintaining the mountain bike trails that now thread throughout Gunnison National Forest. Three decades down the line, the organization’s volunteers have hand-built more than 450 miles of singletrack in the Crested Butte area alone. Zoom-out and the entire Gunnison Valley includes 750 miles of trails for mountain bike exploration.

Despite the Valley’s robust biking history, no one had ever ridden the region’s complete roster of mountain bike trails—until now. Last year, Crested Butte local Brittany Konsella became the first known person to pedal the entire trail network, which blankets a region including Crested Butte, Gunnison, Crawford and Paonia. A full-time property manager, Konsella biked an average of 10 miles per day, mid-week. Her weekends were full of single-day pushes in the saddle that lasted up to 11 hours. Many of the trails required biking rugged, un-drivable approaches via dirt roads—which added 2,000 miles beyond pure singletrack. And a portion of circuits are tangential to trails, rather than independent rides, meaning she had to cover some trails multiple times. Plus, she was healing from two back-to-back knee surgeries, and she finished the quest with a broken tailbone and pinky toe.

No stranger to endurance feats, Konsella’s also the second woman to ski all of Colorado’s 14,000-foot peaks. That grit came in handy. To complete each singular trail, Konsella ultimately rode more than 3,600 miles. She spent 120 days and 450 hours on her bike. Her total accumulated ascent was 275,000 vertical feet: the equivalent of summiting Mount Everest from basecamp 24 times. 

The mission was part of TrailQuest: an ongoing, open competition launched by the Gunnison-Crested Butte Tourism Association (GCBTA) in 2017. TrailQuest tracks riders’ mileage via the CBGTrails app—a digital trail map of the Gunnison Valley—and offers virtual challenges. At print, only two other riders (out of 500-plus who are registered) have completed the quest: Frank Konsella (Brittany’s husband) and Kemble Widmer.

Next up? Brittany has her eyes set on exploring the Gunnison Valley via the CBGTrails’ brand new winter recreation map—which she helped propose—that launched in February 2019.  

—Morgan Tilton

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