With switchbacks, jump track, jumps and more
By Trina Ortega
Sopris Sun Correspondent
When it comes to cycling, there’s lots to love about Carbondale: more than 75 miles of dirt trails located less than 10 miles from downtown, Full Moon Cruiser rides, Bonedale Bike Week, the Rocky Mountain Omnium, Aloha Mountain Cyclery ShakaCross cyclocross series and Bonedale Bike Project, and the Porcupine Loop annual mountain bike race. Carbondale is additionally recognized as a Bronze-level “Bicycle Friendly Community” by the National League of American Cyclists and will apply for Silver status before the end of summer.
And in a little more than a month, a two-acre professionally designed and built bike park on the south end of town will be the next big amenity adding to the town’s pedal-powered revolution.
The $95,000 park is located at the North Face Park, which also houses the Darien tennis/pickleball courts, the skateboard park, a junior size soccer field and a lighted baseball/softball field.
DirtSculpt, a Pennsylvania-based company that builds dirt jumps and tracks for professional-level cycling competitions, is constructing the park that will include a mountain bike skills “flow line” that switchbacks down the hillside above the site, a large pump track for beginner and intermediate riders, and beginner and intermediate/advanced dirt jumps.
“Attracting and educating the next generation of riders is a primary goal of the park,” said Carbondale Recreation Director Jeff Jackel. “The new terrain will provide a wonderful opportunity for inclusion of the park in school fitness curriculums, as well as for extracurricular activities. This new park will provide school-age children with a professionally designed bike park that provides a safe, no-cost recreational opportunity without having to travel by car.”
The project is funded by a Great Outdoors Colorado matching grant of $45,000, a $25,000 Garfield County Federal Mineral Lease District grant, $10,000 in town funding, $10,000 from Alpine Bank, and $5,000 in community donations.
Crews broke ground on July 2 and completion is expected in six weeks. DirtSculpt employees have been clearing the site, sifting out the rocks to prep the dirt, cutting in the hillside mountain bike trail, and building jumps and berms. (Project organizers are imploring the community to not ride at the park while under construction, as it will impede the work and add more time to the schedule.)
The volunteer effort has been in the works for two years and is being managed by the Bikes, Pedestrian and Trails Commission.
Darryl Fuller is a member of the bike and trails commission and volunteered to head up the project as another way to promote a positive recreational activity for community members.
“I see it as a larger effort to create a healthy, pragmatic and fun outlet for people to ride bikes,” Fuller told The Sopris Sun.
Carbondale is riding the wave of a growing trend in the mountain biking world. Fuller explained that bike parks like the one being built in town are a great mechanism for getting young riders interested in cycling and helping beginner riders develop skills, as well as keeping experienced riders sharp.
“I think it’s exciting for the future of the sport because you’re creating venues where kids on Stryder bikes can be out starting to learn balance and how to maneuver around terrain. Or adults that have never ridden before can have a controlled place where they can go and learn some skills and build some competencies and hopefully take those skills out to nearby trails,” said Fuller, who originally took on organizing the project and helped launch formal public meetings beginning in February 2012.
In addition to cash donations, the Bikes, Pedestrian and Trails Commission is now seeking in-kind donations of landscaping elements, such as trees, shrubs, boulders, and more to enhance the park-like feel of the site, according to volunteer organizer and commission member Rob Morey.
Morey says it’s fulfilling to see the project come to fruition and noted how a bike park is will attract a variety of users, including people from different socio-economic backgrounds.
“I think it’s an amazing spot next to an existing park,” said Morey, a former BMX racer who spent his childhood days building jumps and hits. He added that the park’s location — accessible by bike paths and next to the skate park, school athletic fields, and the higher-density neighborhoods of Carbondale South and Villas de Santa Lucia apartments (operated by Catholic Charities) — is unique and beneficial.
“We can have a safe place for kids to hang out. I grew up not having camps and stuff so I built jumps. Giving kids access to recreation that’s quality and free is important. Plus, it’s a great amenity and the park will have something for the young and young at heart alike,” he said.
The commission has also begun to discuss the formation of a volunteer group that will help with ongoing maintenance of the park. To get involved or to make a tax-deductible donation, contact Jeff Jackel at 510-1214 or firstname.lastname@example.org.