Will Olson bench dedicated in Avon atop Lee’s Way trail
AVON — Local mountain bikers, as well as riders from the Front Range, gathered at the top of Lee’s Way recently to dedicate a memorial bench to local mountain biker Will Olson.
Will Olson, a 40-year old Edwards resident, died on Aug. 1 after crashing during a mountain bike race in Crested Butte. The race was the third stage of the Big Mountain Enduro series that Will Olson was competing in, as well as the only U.S. stop of Enduro World Series circuit.
An expert rider with a few top finishes under his belt and a solid reputation among competitors, Will Olson was one of the best in his class, favored to take the stage win. His death came just three weeks before he and fiance Bonnie McDonald planned to move to Burlington, Vermont, together.
The memorial bench was designed by McDonald and Will Olson’s father, Gary, along with the help of Gallegos Marble Shop CAD programmer Dennis Hawley and plant manager Alejandro Contreras.
Protected from Elements
The bench is made out of Colorado Buff sandstone, and sits atop four smaller stone pedestals. Text and images of two mountain bikers were sandblasted into the stone’s surface by Hawley, then filled in with several coats of black paint to protect the etchings from the elements.
“It’s the most intricate design I’ve ever done,” Hawley said. “We were able to capture a lot of detail on the bikes, like wires and derailleur hangers. This bench was important to Will’s family and friends, and we took a lot of pride in it … I love the way it came out.”
The bench weighs approximately 400 pounds and was driven to the trailhead on Beaver Creek Point, then moved by hand truck by Will Olson’s friends Jack Ridenour, John Bailey, Chris Sauro and Kevin Anderson.
“It was a lot of work for those guys,” Gary Olson said. “But it was a lot of fun.”
McDonald said she heard a lot of great stories about Will Olson that day.
“It reminded me exactly why those guys were among Will’s closest and oldest friends,” she said. “He was a lucky guy. He was loved.”
The bench features the quote “Life is a beautiful ride,” which was featured on programs for Will Olson’s Aug.6 celebration of life at Eagle’s Nest on Vail Mountain. The bench also notes that the dedication was made possible by “mountain bikers from around the world.”
McDonald said support Will Olson’s family has received from the biking community was amazing.
“Big Mountain Enduro and Enduro World Series have stood by our side, and we received donations from bikers from every corner of the globe,” she said. “Many people noted they had never even met Will. It’s been incredible.”
A bench dedication was hosted on Saturday, Oct. 31. Riders came and went between noon and 2 p.m., pedaling up to see the bench and socialize with friends before enjoying the fun and fast downhill on Lee’s Way, one of Will Olson’s favorite trails.
“It was the perfect location for the bench,” Bailey said, who picked out the spot. “It’s on land designated as open space, and the view from up there is just amazing.”
Before the gathering dispersed, McDonald offered a toast in Will’s honor.
“This bench is in memory of Will,” she said. “Not just who he was, but how he lived. He rode big, lived big and loved big. I hope that’s the part of Will that is carried on in all of us.”