Crown Mountain hoping to host sanctioned races by the summer of 2013 | AspenTimes.com

Crown Mountain hoping to host sanctioned races by the summer of 2013

BASALT – In a sports-centric valley like ours, it’s hard to believe there is room for yet another athletic pursuit. But the people at Roaring Fork BMX say there is most definitely a demand for a sanctioned USA BMX park, and they’re well on their way to making it a reality.

“This is our goal, and we’re really starting to gain some momentum,” said Paul Viola, a Woody Creek resident and BMX enthusiast who’s helping lead the charge for a new track at Crown Mountain Park in El Jebel. “It’s a great sport for kids, adults … it’s perfect for this valley, where biking is already so popular.”

The dream of a BMX park in the Roaring Fork Valley has been brewing for a while, with several sites around Basalt having been considered. BMX supporters now have zeroed in on a track at Crown Mountain Park and have received the unanimous support of the Crown Mountain board.

BMX is a hybrid of cycling and motocross racing. Riders of the light, rigid bicycles zoom around a snaking course built with sharp and sometimes banked turns, jumps of various sizes, rolling terrain and obstacles. The bikes feature padded handlebars, and riders must wear special helmets to reduce the chance of injury during falls.

Local enthusiasts say BMX is one of the fastest-growing action sports around. It is now an Olympic sport, and there are more than 370 BMX tracks across the nation. In western Colorado, however, there are only two sanctioned tracks – in Eagle and Grand Junction. Once complete, Crown Mountain BMX also could play host to sanctioned races, as well as be open to the public.

“The main motivation for this was the kids,” explained Viola, who races with his 10-year-old son. “Little kids can do this as soon as they can balance on a two-wheeler. And then they can grow into BMX racing or mountain biking or whatever.

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“Plus, BMX is now an Olympic sport. We have a lot of athletes who compete at this level in winter sports, so there’s no reason why we can’t have a facility for this sport as well.”

In order to get the track in place, the recently formed Crown Mountain BMX, as part of the Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District, is trying to raise money to get the track constructed. It estimates the total cost at almost $70,000, with some of the monies to come in the form of in-kind donations.

“We’ve been calling landfill companies to come dump dirt, and we’ve been really happy with the pace that things are coming in,” Viola said, adding that the group is hoping to get some of the infrastructure in place this fall and finish the track in the spring. “And we’ve had other offers of in-kind help, with screening materials and bulldozers and that type of thing.

“Now we want to get the community and businesses behind the effort.”

In fact, Viola believes that the BMX movement isn’t just for experienced racers. He says it’s a perfect sport for plenty of people in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“It’s going to be great for everyone,” Viola said. “I think the sport is already taking off, and a sanctioned track is only going to make it more accessible.”

jmcgovern@aspentimes.com