Roger Marolt: Pushing the button for a better ride at Sky Mountain Park | AspenTimes.com
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Roger Marolt: Pushing the button for a better ride at Sky Mountain Park

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic
Roger Marolt for the Snowmass Sun
Kelsey Brunner/Snowmass Sun

There has been a stunning discovery made in Snowmass Village that has the potential to make an even greater impact on our community than even the uncovering of mammoth bones at the bottom of Ziegler Reservoir did in the pre-lightning-bolt-sculpture-in-the-traffic-circle era.

I’m serious. In fact, I think it already has. Last Saturday, I observed the thing Aspenites will venture west of the roundabout for besides free Thursday evening concerts. This is a big deal because those concerts, for which nobody could name the encore song for any act that ever played in one, were previously believed to be the only thing that could accomplish this. These are strange days, indeed.

The aliens have landed! The invasion has begun. The Sky Mountain Park, Rim and Seven Star trails have been inundated with our neighbors to the east. We are not alone. It proves there is other intelligent life in the county since not only do they love mountain biking but also recognize how great our trail system is.

I like seeing lots of people enjoying our single-track and it is great to practice sharing something we will not run out of. It’s risk-free generosity, if you will. However, if you allow me to pick but a single nit, it is with Deadline Trail. This is the super fun, one-way, downhill-specific, Stairway from Heaven track. The problem is that with the increased traffic on it, it seems you are always either catching up with someone and having to burn your brake pads or getting caught up to and having to do the stop of shame to let someone pass. It really disrupts the flow of a trail that is otherwise as good as it gets when you can go all the way at your own pace.

I’m just going to say it: We need a button at the top of the trail; a big red one mounted on a post that is connected to a countdown timer that is powered by a battery recharged by solar panels. It sounds complicated, but it’s not. It’s not as much a safety device, which it most assuredly is, as a riding experience enhancer. The concept is simple: Hit the button with your fist as you begin the descent. As you cruise, the timer starts clicking. This allows the next rider to pull up and know if you are an appropriate distance ahead. They then hit the button to reset it when they take off.

If they can mount cameras on the scrub oak to spy on us up there, they can certainly put a stopwatch on a stick next to the trail. I bet it could be done for a couple hundred bucks. You could even put another spy camera on the post, dummy or real, just to ensure that everyone knows they are riding with big brother.

OK, enough on that. How much can you say about a timer? And still, it is my job to fill this column. I’m sure if this is all I wrote this week, my editor would be fine with that. Nonetheless, I feel I must write more. It’s like being on a committee or volunteering for the board of a volunteer organization — I have to do more, something, anything.

With that false sense of contributory obligation, here goes idea No. 2: We should consider expanding the trails in Sky Mountain Park into divided highways of sorts; a separate lane for each direction of travel. We need to make another lane of each trail that traces the existing trail with a barrier 10 feet wide in between. The traffic up there warrants the discussion and consideration. Bikers and hikers will love it. The wildlife won’t care.

I estimate that lately I have had to either stop to yield to uphill traffic or slow down for descending bikers to get out of my way when I am climbing about half a dozen times per ride. I am not claiming that this is the end of the world problem, but neither is it the beginning of an epic mountain biking experience. Riders seem to be considerate and careful enough up there so that I don’t feel like my health or well-being is in danger. But, I still think we could make the riding better by this interstate highway concept of trails. While this may sound crazy, I believe that is the only reasonable outcome from thinking about anything for too long.

Roger Marolt hopes to one day be on a board and help make meetings regularly run past dinnertime by brainstorming. Email him at roger@maroltllp.com.


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