The Obsession With Evolution
19 Mar 2014
Q&A: Evolution Bike Park!!
Who are you and what do you do at Evolution Bike Park?
I'm Christian Robertson, I am Evolution Bike Park's Manager at Crested Butte Mountain Resort. I do a little of everything associated with the Park. One of the things I do is lobby for funds to support the development and operations of the Bike Park. I assemble a team for each season that will build, maintain, and patrol the trail network. I spend a lot of hours operating a D1 (shovel) out on the trails. I also help to execute the events that happen within the Bike Park. The best days are when I have the opportunity to get out and ride and enjoy all the hard work the whole team has put into the program.
How long ago was Evolution Bike Park developed? Who or what was the driving force?
Mountain biking has been a part of Crested Butte ever since bikes started rolling around on the mountains. The resort has offered lift serviced trails since the late 90’s. 2009 was the first year we really moved in the direction of a more comprehensive program and modern Bike Park style trails. I will take credit for being the squeaky wheel and drawing attention to the potential business opportunity of developing the Bike Park. Each year since, the resort has applied more resources to the Bike Park and allowed us to grow and improve our product. Like most big projects it has taken a whole team of people to get on board and work really hard to get us to where we are. I think we are still in the infant stages of what is possible here and it is exciting to think about what we may accomplish in the future.
How many visitors do you get in a weekend/season at the bike park? What has been your biggest day on record?
Our visitation really varies through the season but each year it does become more consistent and dependable. We hosted a Pro GRT a couple summers ago and we did about 3,000 uploads on the Saturday of that race weekend, which is a big day for us.
What is the most popular trail at your bike park?
For several years it would have easily been Timeline which is a fast trail with a lot of jumps. This past summer it was cool to see more diversity in ability levels and the traffic was getting more spread out to trails like Awakening (green trail), Frequency (blue), and Timeline (black). We also added an alternate finish to Timeline we call Timetable and it got a lot of laps to finish out the year. Psycho Rocks is often mentioned as the favorite trail for a lot of riders though they do not do as many laps on it because it is a little burlier.
Will there be any new trails added this year or will you be re-developing any existing trails?
Heck Yeah, we got some new trails in the works. I have been putting a fair bit of time into laying out our summer project list and it makes me want to take the snowboard boots off and get out on the bike.
We will be adding a new beginner/intermediate trail that will offer a smooth trail surface and wind its way through some beautiful terrain while giving riders another “easy” option down the mountain.
We will also be adding an extension to Psycho Rocks that will have a similar flavor to the upper section of the trail and allow access from Avery so riders can do Psycho top to bottom, Psycho to Avery, or Avery to Psycho. It's gonna be sweet!
For years we had a lot of riders asking for smoother, bermy, jumpy, Bike Park trails and so we built them. Now we are hearing riders ask for more natural terrain, so we are going to make it happen. This new offering will be our new DH race track and moves through some of the most awesome terrain on the mountain. It is going to be fast, it is going to be technical. Sections of this trail will be really rough and physically demanding. Racing it will be a whole lot of fun. We are hosting a DH race event the last weekend of June. The goal will be to run it on this track and let the racers burn in some of the lines. This trail is a great example of the process working in everyone’s favor. A Pirate trail went through this terrain for years. As we developed the Bike Park which is on Public Land it became more apparent that riders were using this part of the mountain in an unsanctioned way and we shut it down. Now after years of working with the USFS to expand our trail network we were able to go back in there and propose a legit trail. Because of our construction and maintenance it will now be a sustainable piece of track and the riders are going to be psyched to ride it.
Describe the predominant “style” of riding at your park? (Natural vs. Manmade, DH/Tech/Steep vs. Flow/Features) Typically, what kind of terrain do you have? (Rocky, Dry-dusty, Tacky, Roots)…
It has taken years to get here but we now have a great variety of terrain for riders to enjoy. Through the 25+ miles of trail we have, there is quality DH riding, fun flowy Bike Park style trails, beginner trails, skills areas, and miles of great singletrack that can be climbed or accessed from the lift.
I think a big part of why we are experiencing success with our program is that we have variety. We still have a lot of work to do but it is very realistic now for a family to come ride and have fun. We have a lot of talent around here and they are able to challenge themselves and get better. There are also a lot of animals in this valley who put more miles on their bike in a week than I do in my truck. They are starting and finishing their big rides on our trails and also enjoying a new experience on our machine built tracks.
Look at our trail map and it is weighted toward expert trails because advanced riders will do more laps in a day and we want more variety for them. The growth in the sport is going to come from entry level riders, so they are really important, and we are working hard to make the Bike Park more appealing to them. Over time we will create more options for those riders too.
We will also be doing some serious maintenance on several trail segments. We had an unusually wet season last year and a number of major rain events so we will be putting a lot of energy into getting trails back into shape.
What is the mountain bike scene/culture like at your bike park?
Bikes are a part of life in Crested Butte. It has been that way for a long time and I imagine it will always be that way. The kids who are born here start riding bikes as they are learning to walk. Most everyone has several bikes in their garage, yard, or attached to their cars. Life is planned around daily rides, spring desert riding missions, racing, or just kicking up the stand on the town bike for errands or social cruising. It is another major factor in the success of the bike park. When people visit Crested Butte and they become immersed in the culture, bikes are a part of it. I think most people who spend time here in the summer will end up on a bike. The great thing about Evolution Bike Park is that it allows people who may not have the fitness to pedal up mountains at 10,000 feet to get out and enjoy the sport. We have seen so much growth with youth riders because they love riding bikes, but a 13 year old may not love pedaling uphill for 10 miles before he drops in for the descent.
On any given day at the Bike Park you will see pro level DH and XC riders rubbing elbows with groms and adults on every style of bike made, it is a great atmosphere.
Tell me a little bit about Crested Butte’s town or city. Where do out-of-towners like to stay while visiting the bike park? Are there any restaurants or bars that mtb-ers like to hang?
Like I have mentioned before, Crested Butte is a biker’s haven. All kinds of bikes litter the trails, streets and garages. With a population of 2,500 in the north end of the valley, it is small, it is quaint, but it is a town with more passion for the mountain lifestyle than you can imagine. People here live for the outdoors. As far as for guests, there are a ton of great lodging options. There are hotel rooms and condos right here at the base of the Bike Park. There is good coffee here to get you going and burgers and beer on a beautiful elevated deck at Butte 66. There are lots of options for food and beds in town and a bar on every block. You will find mountain bikers in all of them.
Tell us about any big events that are in store this summer at the bike park?
June 28-29 = Central States Cup multiple discipline racing / hopefully on fresh DH track
July 9 – Aug. 6th – Pinnacle race series every Wednesday night – Gravity and endurance
July 9 – Aug 27 – Free concert series every Wednesday night.
Aug 13 – Pro Cycling Challenge –
Aug 1-3 – Betti All Ride Clinic – Ladies only riding camp
Sep. 3-7 – Big Mountain Enduro –
Sep. 13-14 – Collegiate race
Do you have an opening day yet?
What does the future hold for Evolution Bike Park?
Greatness!! We are in a good place and we are going to bust our butts to keep pushing forward. We will chip away each year to add new trail segments and make the existing ones better. There is a lifetime of mountain biking to be done in the Gunnison Valley and the Evolution Bike Park is the icing and the cherry on top. If your tires have knobs on them then you need to get here to ride. Or just get here and ride one of our bikes and miles and miles of sweet trail.
How about some Shout Outs!
For anybody who has ever ridden here, Thanks. Every lap you ride helps to justify the work we do and helps us to keep going. If you have not been here, then you are invited to come check it out. You will have fun. Brings some friends and you will have even more fun. Meet other riders and continue to add to the stoke and there just are not too many places more beautiful than Crested Butte to ride your bike in the summer time. We hope to see you this season.
The U.S. Forest Service often times gets the bad rap for not supporting Bike Parks or trails. The reality is that we would not have all this fun stuff to ride without their help. They have offered a lot of great insight every step of the way. I will admit that I was initially frustrated when they would not just say yes to what we wanted to do. In the end the Bike Park is better due to their involvement.
CBMBA is our local trails organization and man do they bring some serious people power to the party. The volunteer labor organized by CBMBA has been a big part of the trail development within our trail network and the work they have done has improved the riding for all in the valley.
A lot of blood, sweat, and beers have gone into the Evolution Bike Park. A handful of us have been here since the beginning and just want to say thanks and nice work to the core crew. We are always looking for talented, creative, passionate trailbuilders and patrollers so hit me up if you need some summer work (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thank you Trent Bona for the exceptional images!