WBP Review: Evolution
11 Aug 2015
Writer Natty G Photos Trey Clay
Before we go into detail about our time spent at Evolution Bike Park, we want to first say how sorry we are for the recent loss of mountain biker Will Olson. Professional photographer and good friend, Devon Balet put into words what so many of us are feeling after hearing of this tragedy. And for those around the world who maybe don’t know or haven’t heard what happened in Crested Butte, we won’t go into it here, but it deeply affected us, and everyone at the Big Mountain Enduro/Enduro World Series event.
“You’re so lucky to be here in Crested Butte during the peak of wildflower season”! That’s what one of the locals said to us as we turned our heads to sneeze, blow our noses, and rub our burning-watering eyes, not feeling so lucky at all. You could say we were asking for it by setting up camp a few miles outside of town in Gunnison National Forest, ‘smack-dab’ in the middle of a giant wildflower meadow. However, looking back on our recent visit to Crested Butte, CO and Evolution Bike Park, the daily allergy attack we had was totally worth it. CB is a stunningly beautiful place in any season. Well-known as a mountain bike trail mecca, EVO Bike Park, although somewhat smaller in size and vertical (860ft.), easily holds its own against it’s rivals throughout Colorado and the western states. And, if there were any doubt, the fact that the Enduro World Series/Big Mountain Enduro was making a stop in CB was proof of its high regard in the mountain biking community.
The first major feature on EVO's newest Expert DH trail called Captain Jack. (Riders: Tom Flawn-Chops, Max Bechtold, Jimi Averill)
Upon arriving at the base of Mt. Crested Butte, we hunted down Christian Robertson (bike park Manager) to get the scoop on what’s new and happening at EVO. First off, Christian was super-excited and proud of a new double-black-diamond DH trail called Captain Jack. Fortunately for us, we had a couple of EVO trail guides leading the way down Captain Jack our first time. The most steep and gnarly-technical section is towards the middle of the trail with multiple line choices available to the rider. Choose carefully though, and once you do, commit fully to that line! We saw at least 7 people crash in that rock garden while we were scoping it out for ourselves. No one was seriously hurt, but even those familiar with this section had a significant ‘Over-the-Bars’ incident. The rest of this trail is root infested, steep, and off-camber at times. Damn good trail in our opinion!
Jimi Averill & Max Bechtold going big off the jumps on lower Avery.
Next on tap at EVO, and not to be missed, is the long awaited single-black-diamond trail named Crusader. Access from the Red Lady Express Lift is a bit of a pain, but we think it’s worth the moderate amount of pedaling required up the Painter Boy trail to the start. Crusader offers some nice flow, jumps (step-downs, step-ups, hips, & one ‘boner-log’), and wood features amongst the wildflowers and aspens. We made a few runs down this trail and rarely saw another rider the whole time! It’s a bit ‘out-there’ in the backcountry, but the Wood’s trail roughly parallels Crusader and makes for another exciting black-diamond run with an iconic and challenging wall-ride to entice riders over to the ‘dark-side’ of the mountain. Both of these must-ride trails do entail an ~2mile easy spin on the Gothic Road back to the mountain base.
'Table-top' on Time Table! (Rider: Jimi Averill)
As if the expert-trail, appropriately named Psycho Rocks, were not exciting enough, there’s now a new addition to the end of Psycho Rocks called Boulder Mason, which continues the rock-gnar theme a few hundred feet further down the mountain. The words ‘boulder’ and ‘flow’ don’t often go together, but the new Boulder Mason trail succeeds in achieving that elusive combination with true craftsmanship. We give proper respect to the trail crew for this one!
Jimi Averill shaking hands with Mr. Pine Tree.
Finally, there’s a new green (beginner) trail at EVO Bike Park called Hotdogger. Flow is the name of the game on Hotdogger, with berms & rollers galore! It’s not easy to build a beginner trail that allows for true rider-progression without too much risk. The trail crew was actively making necessary changes to this trail while we were there to deliver a great beginner rider experience.
Jimi & Max enjoying the flow on upper Captain Jack.
Record breaking rains throughout Colorado this summer season has created some true challenges for bike park trail crews, and EVO was definitely not spared the wrath of the rain-Gods. We noticed some serious ‘shark-fin’ rocks poking ominously out of the dirt in many of the berms waiting to catch a wheel or pedal. Mostly, the upper sections of the trails were hardest-hit by this ‘shark-fin-syndrome’. Significant rain-ruts were frequently spotted as well on the trails. The trail crew has been hard at work (with-in their often limited budget) to tend to the rain damage. Another constructive critique we have for EVO concerns the lack of appropriate signage at all trail junctions and areas where trails diverge. We found ourselves somewhat confused at times in these areas. Locals, we’re sure, probably don’t have any trouble identifying where they are and where they want to go, but we try to approach each bike park with virgin eyes. You’re Welcome!
Getting above the wire mesh on this iconic Wood's trail wall-ride. (Rider: Jimi Averill)
Evolution Bike Park at Crested Butte, Colorado is in somewhat of a remote area of the Rocky Mountains…unlike some of the other bike parks that are a quick drive from Denver or just off Interstate-70, which bisects the state in an east-west direction. This fact may have something to do with the appeal of Crested Butte and the mountain town/boutique feel with its trendy eateries and shops. On a final note: don’t take State Route 12 (Kebler Pass Rd.) to get to Crested Butte if you’re in a hurry. The road is mostly dirt, with lots of potholes, and endless twists & turns.
Jimi & Max send-it on Crusader.