Freeriding to debut in Breckenridge
BRECKENRIDGE – Construction will begin this weekend on a freeride bike park in Breckenridge, the first of its kind in the state and one of the few in the nation.
The park is part of the town’s goal to begin touting sports besides lift-served skiing – such as biking, hiking and Nordic skiing.
It will be among the least expensive amenities the town has ever built, too, with materials estimated to cost $500 and labor provided free.
Freeriding is a style of downhill mountain biking that celebrates the challenges of technical riding and cresting manmade obstacles in creative ways.
Trails can range from steep, bumpy singletrack to an extreme course filled with natural obstacles and manmade “stunts.”
Riders careen down steep hills or maneuver atop elevated paths made of logs. They jump off 10-foot – or even 30-foot – ledges. They ride across giant teeter-totters, over narrow logs and through piles of fallen trees.
That’s what Freeriders United, a group of seven locals, wants to bring to Breckenridge.
Monday night, the Breckenridge Open Space Advisory Commission gave Cam Fulton and Ryan Soderberg the OK to start work on a park in the woods below Grandview Condominiums on Peak 8 and between the Four O’Clock ski run and Sawmill Creek condominiums.
The sport evolved in western Canada, where people built trails in the air to get them out of the mud.
The sport has since become popular in Australia, Scotland and Wales, where the government, corporate sponsors and bicyclists have invested millions of dollars to build some of the best trails in the world.
Only eight such parks exist in the United States, located in such places as Bootleg Canyon outside Boulder City, Nev.; Palm Beach County, Fla.; Tamarack Resort near McCall, Idaho, and another in Massachusetts.
Those, however, are located on private land and are constructed, in some cases, with minimal standards for safety and sustainability, said Open Space and Trails Planner Danica Rice.
While most litigious-wary municipalities in the United States shy away from freeride bike parks, Breckenridge plans to embrace the sport, much as it did with freestyle skiing in the 1980s.
Like the skateboard park at the recreation center, bicyclists in the Breckenridge park will ride at their own risk.
Breckenridge’s park will feature eight so-called stunts, including elevated bridges, a teeter-totter, a banked bridge, embedded rocks through which riders must pick a line, small piles of deadfall, a 5-foot-tall, A-frame-like pyramid built of logs and a “steeple” with a log across which riders can bike.
All will be built to bike-park standards, which are sanctioned by the International Mountain Biking Association and require crash zones be provided alongside each stunt. Crash zones are paths riders can take if they opt out of the stunt.
Sustainability standards are another element of construction. The park will feature beginner and intermediate stunts, with maximum height, width and steepness parameters in place.
For instance, in a Level 3 park (the levels range from 1 to 5) a teeter-totter would have a maximum pivot height of 2 feet above the ground, embedded obstacles like rocks could project no more than 8 inches from the ground and elevated bridges can be no higher than 6 feet.
An important criterion in building the park is to protect the natural resources of the forest, Fulton said.
Elevating stunts off the ground and “armoring” the steeper dirt areas with wooden boardwalks – themselves a challenge for riders – will help prevent erosion.
While the park will be included in the town’s trail system, Fulton and Soderberg both agree it will be too small a facility to hold competitions that would attract hundreds of bicyclists. It could, however, be part of a system to introduce people to the sport.