Guts and glory — Crown Mountain’s new bike park offers something for everyone | AspenTimes.com
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Guts and glory — Crown Mountain’s new bike park offers something for everyone

NATURAL FIT

Crown Mountain Park’s budget includes funds to enhance some of the natural environment.

“It’s not lost on me that we got into the native (terrain),” bike park director Grinzinger said of the bike park expansion.

The goal is to also undertake work to boost habitat for wildlife, birds and insect. Native grass seed will be planted, wetlands will be created and birdhouses will be erected.

Signs will also be posted that delineate the biking and walking paths.

“We still have a ton of terrain to walk and run on in Crown Mountain Park,” Grinzinger said.

Crown Mountain Park is putting finishing touches on a bike park that will soon attract everyone from little kids on Striders to pro cyclists performing flips while competing for cash.

There is an amazing array of tracks and obstacles courses laid out in an L-shade along the south and western edges of the 120-acre park in El Jebel. The bike park covers about 3.5 acres.

What started out as a volunteer-built BMX track tucked away in a corner in 2013 has grown into professionally designed park expected to draw an estimated 130,000 visits annually, said bike park director Nate Grinzinger.

“We have a lot of variety built into it,” Grinzinger said.

While touring the park, it’s best to keep your head on a swivel because there are so many eye-catching features. The Enchanted Forest features a narrow boardwalk elevated several feet off the ground. The boardwalks flow into natural obstacles such as giant tree stumps and lead to abrupt drops from varying distances.

A tamer singletrack trail features rock gardens and stretches of roots where mountain bikers of all levels can sharpen their technical skills.

In another section of the park, a dirt progression park features five lines of varying difficulty. The first line provides rolling terrain for riders to practice jumps. The third line features part dirt jumps and 11 wood jumps for ever-higher amounts of air. The jumps just get bigger in lines 4 and 5.

“We thought long and hard about the progressions,” Grinzinger said.

Nearby are two even bigger jumps with a large mound of mulch in the landing area. The soft landing provides riders with confidence to attempt flips and 360-degree twists. Grinzinger said he witnessed a 12-year-old practice 360’s on the mulch landing until he gained confidence to pull it off on wood ramps in the progression course.

Crews this week were adding asphalt to a dirt base of a course that features banked curves, various sized jumps and tabletops. The course has mirrored features so two racers can compete side-by-side. Asphalt requires less maintenance and provides the traction for race maneuvers.

BME Design, owned by Brian Trujillo of Glenwood Springs, is building the park. The cool thing about its crew is they frequently whip out their own bikes to test components and make sure they got it right.

Lead builder Damon Proffitt said some components look intimidating to riders at first, but everything was designed with options to make it very navigable. For example, dirt ramps lead to wooden platforms that drop into thin air. But riders can adjust their lines and take smaller drops or eliminate them altogether.

“You can roll this whole thing without leaving the ground,” Grinzinger said.

The cost of the park is $500,000, but Crown Mountain Park and Recreation District leveraged the $150,000 it contributed. The park received a Great Outdoors Colorado grant this spring for $168,000 and raised $182,000 through in-kind donations and sponsorships.

BME Design is racing to complete the job by July 3. Once completed, Grinzinger believes the park will pull in riders from across the state because there’s nothing else like it.

“Without debate, it is the most unique with the most variety,” he said.

New bike park manager Andrew Mann added his own twist to describe the park.

“I grew up building illegal bike parks in the woods,” he said. “Nobody had something like this growing up. This valley will produce a world class biker soon.”

scondon@aspentimes.com


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