Growler Bike Race This Weekend – The Crested Butte News

Flow State Festival

[  by Than Acuff  ]

The 14th Annual Growler Bike Race is scheduled for this weekend with races scheduled for the Hartman Rocks Trail System on Saturday and Sunday, May 28-29. The race is organized by Gunnison Trails and it is their main fundraiser for the organization. But this year, the organizers are taking it up a notch, they have teamed up with Mountain Magazine Flyer to create Flow State, adding a bike festival to the race weekend.

“We’ve talked about doing a festival in Gunnison for years,” says mountain flyer Brian Riepe, editor and longtime resident of Gunnison.

“Other races on the calendar have a festival vibe and we don’t have the bandwidth to deliver that, so we’re really excited to partner with them and bring it here,” Gunnison’s executive director said. Trails, Tim Kugler.

The races themselves continue to be one of the main events of the summer, attracting 700 runners, most from outside the Gunnison Valley, to compete in three races over the two days.

“We definitely have people traveling very far,” says Kugler.

It all starts with the Classic Growler on Saturday, May 28 in downtown Gunnison at IOOF Park with the infamous 9am shotgun start. Three hundred and fifty runners will then leave town for a 32-mile tour of the Hartman Rocks Trail. system.

The Gunnison Trails team has been hard at work over the past two months with general maintenance and are here this week getting the courses ready for race weekend.

“The crews are there doing general maintenance and this week they are fixing some big issues that have formed and making last minute course adjustments,” says Kugler.

Mother Nature also stepped in to help with some recent rainfall to knock down the dust last week.

“The trails were getting pretty dusty, but we only needed three inches of snow and the flowering plants are full of color,” says Kugler. “That’s about as good as it gets.”

Organizers, volunteers and some hardcore runners will then rest, recuperate and restart for two more races on Sunday, May 29, with the Big Bad 40 and Pup 20 starting at IOOF Park in downtown Gunnison at 7 a.m. These two races replaced the notorious 64-mile suffering race of the past from 2019.

“That one was always tough to complete,” says Kugler. “The 40 is cool because it adds onto the Aberdeen Loop and it covers all trails except five miles at Hartman Rocks.”

The Pup 20 also gained massive traction covering several of the trails closest to the parking lot and opening up race weekends to another cross section of mountain bikers.

“The 20-mile loop is just a bit friendlier for people who want to get into the race and we’ve seen a lot more middle and high school kids sign up, which is pretty neat,” Kugler says.

As always, spectators are encouraged and although the trails are not closed to the public on both days, races are expected to be over by 1pm on both days, so if you want to ride Hartman Rocks, just watch out for runners.

“Come cheer people on,” Kugler said. “We cannot close Hartman Rocks but please be respectful and aware that there are many runners on the course and we ask the public not to run the course upside down.”

All information about the course of the racecourse is available on

As for Flow State, it will run concurrently with the Growler Races bringing live music, bike demonstrations, guided rides, camping and all things mountain biking to Gunnison as well and headquartered at at I Bar Ranch.

“We did one in Vermont last year and it worked really well and we saw the possibility of bringing it to Gunnison,” says Riepe. “It’s a great way to connect the cycling community and raise money for trail organizations like Gunnison Trails.”

It is helpful if the owning company Mountain Magazine FlyerHeight of Land Publications, was founded by Adam Howard who attended Western State College, now called Western Colorado University.

“He’s thrilled to bring it to Gunnison and the partnership with the I Bar Ranch makes this event truly unique,” says Riepe. “It will help reduce some of the impact on public lands this weekend.”

Riepe points out that the Gunnison Valley is known for its ability to burn the candle at both ends and sees it as the perfect location for the bike races and after-school programs that are expected to take hold over the years.

“It’s the first year, so it might be relatively small, but there’s plenty of room to grow,” says Riepe.

All information about Flow State is available on

About Todd Wurtsbach

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