I will update this post as I explore the incredible Valmont Bike Park in Boulder, CO. Expect photos and videos.
June 14, 2011: Today, my first day at Valmont, I rode the park for six (6!) glorious hours. Features reviewed: Medium Slopestyle Line, Dual Slalom, Mesa Top Pump Park, Mesa Flow, Corkscrew, Rivet, The 5280′ Run-Up, Creekside Pump Park, Small Dirt Jumps, Dirt 101
June 15, 2011: Update on the big pump track. Added bike suggestions.
June 16, 2011: Added video of Jerad Fischer rolling the Large Slopestyle line. This man is ripping with one leg. Medium dirt jump line.
June 19, 2011: Updated pump track descriptions, added Large dirt jump line.
June 30: Updated Large dirt jump line.
Video! I’ll post ’em as I get ’em.
Jerad Fischer, who recently had his lower leg amputated and is still getting used to his bionics, rolls the Large Slopestyle line (which appears to have great flow). I guess it’s time for me to step up from Medium!
Large Slopestyle line
Opening day, CX style
Wow, wow and wow. What an amazing, awesome facility. What a resource for the community.
I’m saying this even though I wanted the juicy contract to build the park, but I had to settle for a minor design role. The parks I built in Lyons and Superior are very nice and useful, but Valmont represents a quantum leap in size, inclusiveness and quality.
For general fun, ride whatever you usually ride. I’ve seen people having fun on everything from road bikes to 20s to downhill bikes. Most people will enjoy their everyday trail bikes.
I’ve been riding my 140 mm Stumpjumper. It’s a bit soft in the pump track and a bit wallowy on the jumps, but it works pretty well everywhere — especially with a dropper seatpost. I look forward to riding Captain America, my experimental Stumpjumper HT EVO-R hardtail, out there. He might be ideal for me.
If you want to optimize:
XC trails: Your normal trail bike. A hardtail or short travel suspension bike is probably ideal. The Stumpy slays the place. I see people having fun on CX rigs.
Pump tracks and dirt jumps: DJ hardtail or DS suspension bike (SX, Tazer or similar).
Slopestyle: If you’re smooth and confident, rock a DJ hardtail. If you like some cush, rip a DS suspension bike. For general rippage that you can take to the trail, rock a trail bike with low seat, short stem and chainguide (like my Stumpy). If you’re Joe Pro Slopestyle Guy, go huge on your slopestyle bike. But realize: The best riders I’ve seen out there are riding hardtails and short-travel DS bikes. Please, for your own safety, rely on great technique rather than great suspension.
Medium Slopestyle Line
What: One of the smaller lines in the slopestyle area. Small drop, tricky turn with wallride option, bigger drop then a series of medium-sized tables and hips.
What it’s like: Super fun and flowy. Take a crank off the start then pump your way all the way down.
What: Dual slalom the way the Creator intended. Lots of berms, rollers, doubles, step-ups and step-downs.
What it’s like: Easy at low speed, awkward at medium speed, seems flowier the faster you go. Totally pumpable, but faster (and flowier) with some cranks thrown in. I cannot wait to race on this thing.
Mesa Top Pump Park
What: The “big” pump track. It’s long and convoluted, with elevation change and some very tight turns. I can’t see a way to ride it as a loop unless you pedal across the start area and drop back in. That offends my pump-track purism, but it’s a fun, clever adventure. (Update: On the hardtail I can pump the final uphill well enough to coast across the start area and roll back in. So it is, indeed, a pump track.)
What it’s like: Advanced for sure. Going clockwise, Turn 3 comes up fast and tight! You will probably blow this turn. If you somehow make it, you’ll have your hands full until you work your way back to the top of the track. I got the track pretty well on the 140 mm Stumpjumper. It’ll be fun to try a hardtail.
What: Blue XC-style trail connecting the top of the Slopestyle area with the Corkscrew.
What it’s like: Fun with an easy flow. You can treat is as a relaxing spin or put the hammer down and test your skill in the ever-loosening corners.
What: A beginner-friendly flow trail with berms and rollers.
What it’s like: Easy to ride slow. Tricky to ride fast, because the berms aren’t steep enough to hold big lean angles, and you end up doing semi-flat, loose turns. Super fun though. The first day I rode it, I ran about 20 laps.
What: Blue climb from bottom of corkscrew up to Mesa Flow. Part of every Corkscrew training session.
What it’s like: Thanks to its gentle rollers, this short climb is rather entertaining. If you think it’s too easy, try pinning Corkscrew and blasting up this hill 20 times.
The 5280′ Run-Up
What: A wooden staircase designed for cyclocross run-ups.
What it’s like: I have yet to run up it, but I’ve ridden down it slowly and with a sprint entrance. A great way to dial in your fore-aft balance. Strive to ride it with completely neutral hands.
Creekside Pump Park
What: The “little” pump track. Pump track historians will recognize Randy Spangler’s pump park design. It packs a lot of technicality, and many options, into a small space.
What it’s like: Easy to ride, hard to ride fast. The 180s are tight man, tight, especially the one on the inside of the track. I think this layout is too hard for most beginners to find flow (my opinion). The return straight has a funny dead spot, otherwise the track has very good flow. The track rides fine on a suspended trail bike; it’s much quicker on a hardtail (duh).
Small Dirt Jumps
What: The “small” line in the dirt jump area, as opposed to the “extra small” line. Roller, table-ish roller, roller, step-up, drifty berm then three rollers to shoot you toward the start.
What it’s like: Fun, fun, fun. Safe too. You cannot hurl yourself at the step-up unless you really nail the preceeding rollers. The line is doable on a Stumpjumper, but I borrowed a slalom-specific SX and — wow — half the work, twice the air time.
Medium Dirt Jumps
What: Banked entrance, roller, roller, step-up, hip then exit the line or flow into Large line and hit a tall step-on/step-off then a big, boosty step-up to the wall ride.
What it’s like: Faster and flowier than the small line. You have to put all the pieces together if you want to rock that last step-up. The last step-up (also the end of the Large line) is so sweet. Like a mother bird landing in her nest.
Large Dirt Jumps
What: Small drop to banked roller/berm, roller, hippy table, hippy table then into the medium line’s step-on/step-off and final step-up.
What it’s like: Awkward. After a half dozen tries I wasn’t getting the first jump, which meant I wasn’t getting the rest of the line. The guys hitting the XL line said they hate the L line (“bad flow”). One kid was riding the L line (with some serious pedaling), so I can’t entirely blame the build. I’ll figure this out. UPDATE: If you go inside the first berm and focus on pumping the setup rollers, the line has great flow!
What: A blue XC-style trail with optional obstacles including some interesting rock formations.
What it’s like: Easy to ride, potentially challenging with the technical options. I did some design work for the park, and I recognize many of the learning features here. Great for improving skills. Today I had fun hop/pumping three big rocks.
I will update this post as I explore the rest of Valmont Bike Park. Expect photos and videos.
Know more. Have more fun!
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