Races, clinics, movie premieres and… lots of tacos
by Than Acuff
The growth of mountain biking is no secret, and one group in particular seems to be proliferating: kids. Catching the wave, and in some ways leading the way, is Crested Butte Devo’s annual junior bike week. This year, Junior Bike Week celebrates its sixth year from June 22-26 and continues to grow and change to provide a truly unique experience for young cyclists and their families.
“There’s nothing like it anywhere else,” says Amy Nolan, executive director of Crested Butte Devo. “No one offers a mix of festive, high-caliber racing events for kids and their families. It gets bigger and better every year.
So much so that Shimano and Specialized signed on as the event’s main sponsors.
“Community support from year one is getting better every year and we now have some of the best partners in the industry,” says Nolan.
And every year Junior Bike Week brings something new to the table as they listen to their attendees but stay focused on the overall intent of the week.
“We want to strike that balance between competitive events and festive events celebrating kids and families on their bikes,” says Nolan.
With that in mind, they expanded the race offering last year to include an enduro event as well as a Triple Crown for the top riders overall in the enduro, pump track event as well as of the Junior Wildflower Classic, a staple since the first year. And have now added a bit more to the racing mix for Junior Bike Week this year.
“We’ve seen an increase in the caliber of riders in the older categories and based on rider feedback, we’ve added a longer course option,” says Nolan.
Meanwhile, races and shorter courses will remain in place to still meet the needs of younger and less experienced runners.
“For a lot of kids, it’s their first race,” says Nolan. “We serve children ages 6-8 through 17-18 and want to provide a great experience for them and everyone else.”
Enduro remains in place as well as pump track competition and the Triple Crown option and already registrations are up from last year. Sixty-six children signed for the three last year for a shot at the Triple Crown. This year over 100 people have registered and more are sure to join as the event draws closer.
“It’s a really good jump and consistent with what the bike industry is seeing,” says Nolan.
But that’s just the racing part. The four-day festival has plenty to offer apart from the competitive events starting day one on Wednesday June 22 as they kick off with track works at Crested Butte Bike Park and the premiere of the latest bike film from TGR, Esperantoat the Arts Center that night.
“We were lucky to have this film here,” says Nolan. “They loved the whole vibe of the event and the festival.”
The week “officially” kicks off on Thursday, June 23 with a party, including a taco bar and live music on the Crested Butte school football field.
“We’ll have tacos for days for everyone,” says Nolan.
The race begins on Friday June 24 with the enduro, location to be announced one week after race day. The day ends with a second screening of Esperanto at the community school’s multi-purpose hall.
Saturday, June 25 is primarily centered around the community school and the town of Crested Butte Bike Park, also the festival headquarters all week. There will be clinics, a running competition, a tire huck and the second stage of the Triple Crown, the pump track competition. Not to mention more food and drink for kids and families.
The festival ends on Sunday June 26 with the traditional Crested Butte Junior Wildflower Classic. The Classic is a cross-country mountain bike race with a variety of courses available to meet the needs of all levels of riders, from the Lower Loop for the little ones to a course that includes the Woods Walk, Upper Lower Loop, Gunsight Connector, GB Loop and the Budd Trail for older kids.
“There’s 400 feet of extra elevation and two extra miles on the long course,” says Nolan.
While a festival of this magnitude brings visions of people camping all over the valley and driving everywhere to get to venues and races, Nolan and Crested Butte Devo pledge to do everything possible to minimize the impact, to start with camping.
“Thanks to the cooperation of the city and the school, we are able to offer this type of event with a fairly low impact,” explains Nolan. “Camping will be provided at the town’s gravel pit and soccer field to prevent campers from going out into the backcountry and driving in and out of town. Sustainability is a huge priority.
All information and registration can be found on juniorbikeweek.com. To see what Crested Butte Devo is, check out crestedbuttedevo.com.