3 - 4
FATMAP difficulty grade
This ride shares the uphill access to the expert-level "Vitamin B" singletrack trail at the edge of Buena Vista, Colorado.
The gorgeous dirt road climbs directly from town to the Vitamin B trailhead and 1.7 miles beyond for a fantastic 22-mile out-and-back gravel grinder. The ride starts and ends on Buena Vista's beautiful Main Street, providing plentiful options for a pre-ride coffee and/or a post-ride libation.
Within a few blocks, the route heads west on what locals call the “River Road,” an old railroad grade that parallels the Arkansas River.
Just before the photogenic old railroad tunnels, the route turns right on CR375 and begins the steady climb.
Despite several stiff pitches, the nearly 2,000 feet of elevation is gained rather pleasantly over 8 miles.
The views along the entire route beg for frequent photography breaks, or at least the opportunity to gawk without swerving all over the road! As the ride ascends, there are views of the local Midland Hills that sit at the edge of town down below, as well as the 13,000-foot Buffalo Peaks up ahead.
Everywhere along the way are the rock formations that comprise the Fourmile Travel Management Area's terrain.
These formations, along with cactus, yucca and rabbit brush, lend a distinct “spaghetti western” flavor to the ride.
In fact, some of the local singletrack trails ( Django, Fistful of Dollars, etc...) are named after some of those movies! After turning onto CR375 and riding upwards and around several sweeping switchbacks, the actual Vitamin B singletrack trailhead appears on the left.
The gravel grinding continues for another 1.7 miles, but this is the highest elevation of the adventure.
Passing by the Vitamin B trailhead, the road begins a gentle descent as it passes some truly spectacular views of the Arkansas River Valley below and the majestic 14,000-foot peaks of the Sawatch Range across the valley.
The turn around of the ride is unmistakable, where the road comes to a dead end.
Before beginning the return trip, get off the bike and hike a hundred yards up to a rocky overlook.
This is a great place to sit and reflect on how lucky you are while soaking up the eye-popping views. The 1.7 miles back to the Vitamin B trailhead has just a bit of climbing, but after that, prepare for a fast, fun, zippy descent.
In fact, the descent has the potential to get scary-fast, so make sure your brakes are in good working order!