ASPEN - The idea of a bike park in Aspen was floated at the city's Open Space and Trails Board meeting Thursday.
"I definitely think there's some momentum behind it," said Stephen Ellsperman, city of Aspen open space director, after the meeting.
He and the board members listened to a brief presentation about bike parks from Tyler Lindsay, director of snowboarding for the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club. Officials stressed that the notion of a bike park for the city is extremely preliminary.
Lindsay said he has a passion for mountain biking and recently took over management of the ski club's mountain-biking program. He spoke of how a bike park could accommodate users of many skill levels and different age groups, from small children to adults.
In describing the features of such recreational facilities, he frequently mentioned Boulder's 42-acre Valmont Bike Park, which in June celebrated its one-year anniversary.
Since its completion, Valmont Bike Park has served an estimated 50,000 riders from around the world. Utilizing natural terrain as well as wooden features for stunts, it features a track for small children, a skills loop for kids, a slopestyle park and a "pump track" - described as a continuous dirt loop with steep, banked turns and rolling hills that eliminate the need for pedaling. Other types of courses and amenities within a bike park also were identified.
A bike park in Aspen could be built on a single acre of land. Officials were hesitant to pinpoint possible locations, but a small area within the Marolt Open Space was discussed as a potential site.
"It appeals to me," Lindsay said of the Marolt area near the intersection of Highway 82 and Castle Creek Road. "You could do one tight acre there."
The pros of Marolt include its shade trees, access to water, drainage, parking and existing community uses. The cons: It's a little flat, and there is a potential conflict with the paragliders who often use the space for landings.
Other locations tossed about during Thursday's discussion included the Moore and Sky Mountain Park open spaces and areas next to Smuggler Mountain and Buttermilk Mountain.
In May, Aspen was awarded Silver status among all bike-friendly communities listed by the League of American Bicyclists. Comparatively, Boulder has achieved the Platinum designation. Given Aspen's two years of success as a host city for the USA Pro Challenge, a new bike park could help to elevate the city's status from the Silver level, Lindsay said.
"We still have a ways to go in building a bike-friendly culture," he said.
Board members appeared excited about the prospects. When Karen Carner asked to see more photographs and information about Valmont, Charlie Eckart joked that he didn't think it was necessary.
"I'm already sold," he said. "You're just preaching to the choir here."
Ellsperman said the next step would be to gather community input, especially from residents and visitors who are recreational bicyclists. The process of identifying potential locations, as well as community partners in the project (such as the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club and bike shops) also is necessary, he added.
A bike park also could host various events that draw sponsorships, similar to the crowd-friendly functions held annually at the city's Rio Grande Skatepark, officials said.