Pump track at Steamboat Ski Area nearly complete | SteamboatToday.com

Pump track at Steamboat Ski Area nearly complete

Ski Time Square course could open to public next week

Clay Schrader compacts the soil on the new pump track that is being built in Ski Time Square. The track is nearing completion and could be open to the public next week.

— It took weeks of planning and months of wrangling, but when tool actually was put to dirt, Steamboat Springs' newest biking feature, the pump track in Ski Time Square, took only two days to build.

Now cycling leaders hope it can immediately become a fun and unique addition to the city's growing biking résumé.

"We're very happy. It's beautiful," said Clay Schr­­ader, who designed and built the track.

A pump track is a short circular course laden with a series of bumps. Ideally, a rider can shift his or her weight efficiently enough — pump it, if you will — to keep making rotations of the track without actually pedaling.

The tracks also help riders work on their bike-handling skills.

Steamboat's track began to become a reality in the winter and into spring as The Atira Group, which owns the development rights to Ski Time Square, was looking for something to do with the valuable base-area land until it could be properly built out.

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"We have a track in Granby, and we heard good things. That's what gave us the idea to bring it here," The Atira Group's Mark Mathews said.

He said his first go-around on the track Friday left him exhausted and sweating.

"It's more of a workout than you're expecting," he said. "Even as an intermediate, it was a lot of fun. It's a workout, and it really helps your handling skills."

Planners had hoped to be pumping as soon as spring really caught hold in the valley, but a wet April and May set back plans, and construction didn't begin in earnest until earlier this week.

Then it didn't take long at all. The track was nearing its final form after just two days of dirt work, and now, after several more days of finishing detail and testing, it's ready for a final inspection.

"You can't design something like that just on a piece of paper," Schrader said. "We had to build it one section at a time and keep riding it to make sure we had it right.

"Now it's great. Beginners can just drop in and ride it and more advanced riders can do it completely differently, trying different lines or other things to carry more speed."

Designers hope to have the course open to the public next week with a grand opening ceremony tentatively set for Friday. The pump track will be free to riders.

The Atira Group helped build the course and turned it over to the city for insurance reasons. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, or more specifically the club's Gravity Team cycling program, will take on the course's day-to-day maintenance.

"It's a really cool feature and a big added bonus," Gravity Team coach Cory Prager said. 'We're trying to put Steamboat on the map for cycling, and this is just another feature to help do that."

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