Off to one side of Crown Mountain Park (CMP) lies one of the best-known BMX race tracks in Colorado.
In 2019, that track looks to become even better, as more cycling features are in the works.
Bike motocross, or BMX, began in the 1970s, but came to prominence in the ’80s.
A few years ago, a group of dedicated local parents decided to build their own BMX track for their kids and it has become quite a hit around the corridor and the state. With a renewed sense of purpose, fresh faces at Crown Mountain are looking to expand upon what is already in place.
“There are new designs being created right now,” says Nate Grinzinger, the Parks and Recreation manager of CMP.
He envisions that CMP could become the epicenter of bike culture in the Roaring Fork Valley. “We love the concept of adding a connecting bridge from the Rio Grande Trail to Crown Mountain,” he says.
The track manager for the last three seasons, Jared McDermott. seconded this notion.
“The idea is to build a platform where everyone can enjoy a truly integrated bike park,” McDermott says.
Additions to the CMP BMX track would include a balance bike zone, a dirt jump park and competitive pump track. (A pump track is a type of off-road terrain for cycle sport consisting of a circuit of banked turns and features designed to be ridden completely by riders “pumping” — creating momentum by up-and-down body movements. This is currently a hot trend in biking.)
A private donation from Willits resident Jessica Phillips helped kick-start the BMX renovations. She and her husband, international road bike-racing champion Tejay van Garderen, contributed $5,000 for conceptual-plan renderings to be completed — possibly as early as next week.
After visiting the Belmont Bike Park in Boulder, Phillips and van Garderen felt that the open space near the BMX park at Crown Mountain would be an ideal location to build a progressive trail park. The idea is to have a range of bike trails that incrementally increase the skill required to complete them — hence developing kids from beginners to lifelong bicycle experts.
Grinzinger used the donated money to hire Progressive Trail Designs (PTD), based out of Arkansas, for the drafting conceptual-plan renderings. PTD Is already well established in the Roaring Fork Valley. They have built in Snowmass Village (Cozyline, Deadline, Airline), the Grandstaff Trail in Glenwood Springs and trails around Hunter Creek.
In September 2018, PTD did a site visit to Crown Mountain Park. They surveyed the available terrain, discussed concepts and began to better understand what the current BMX park was capable of becoming.
According to PTD planning director Jason Stouder, concept art has been underway for the first phase of new construction, however, PTD did not feel comfortable releasing designs just yet.
With the exception of a small portion of taxes going towards the maintenance of the BMX track, almost all of it was built by private donations of materials and labor.
John Blatz of Clearwater Construction Management, Inc., was instrumental in putting together all of the pieces for the original creation of the BMX track.
“It was the most fun I’ve had working on a project in the Roaring Fork Valley in my 25 years here,” Blatz says.
According to Blatz, the original BMX track started with an idea that a group of working parents brainstormed when they would take their kids to race in Grand Junction.
Blatz, along with Travis Hughes of Hughes Construction, and Travis Stewart at Casey Concrete, rolled up their sleeves and got to work. Once Chris Woods, the former director of Crown Mountain, approved of the land use in early 2012, Hughes Construction started screening all of the dirt that was later used for construction of the BMX park.
Donating materials and labor was in the spirit of Hughes Construction founder, Clem Hughes. Although Clem wasn’t alive during the BMX park project, Blatz feels it would be fitting to hang a plaque saying “Anything for the kids” in Hughes’ honor.
Once the materials and manpower were in place, Nick Soho at Mozian Designs imagined the track and legendary BMX track builder, Lance Maguire from USA BMX, was brought in to physically build it.
After $15,000 was raised initially, it took about $100,000-150,000 in donated labor to achieve the final goal. Since then, it has evolved over the past four years, with additions such as turf and fencing.
“We conceived and delivered the baby, but it was Rebecca who raised it,” says Blatz, referring to current Crown Mountain Executive Director Rebecca Wagner, who has kept the quality of the track up and costs low.
With many racers competing on the track, installing cost-saving measures, such as a concrete ramp leading into the jumps, soil tac and a layer of limestone underneath, helps to keep maintenance expenses low. Wagner points out that there is a community of more than 100 BMX racers in the Mid-Valley. She says parents’ desires about wanting a set of progressive trails have been heard.
Currently, the BMX park is looking for donations of dirt for building jumps. The current track builder, Eric Bress, has been busily resurfacing the track in preparation for paving the track turns in Spring 2019.