Races, clinics, movie premier and…plenty of tacos
by Than Acuff
Mountain biking’s growth is no secret, and one group in particular seems to be proliferating: kids. Catching the wave, and in some respects leading the way, is the annual Junior Bike Week hosted by Crested Butte Devo. This year, Junior Bike Week celebrates its sixth year on June 22-26 and continues to grow and change to provide a truly unique experience for young riders and their families.
“There is nothing like this happening anywhere else,” says Crested Butte Devo executive director Amy Nolan. “Nobody is putting on a mix of festive and high caliber racing events for kids and their families. It’s just getting bigger and better every year.”
So much so that both Shimano and Specialized have signed on as the main sponsors of the event.
“The support from the community from year one just gets better and better every year and now we’re reeling in some top industry partners,” says Nolan.
And each year Junior Bike Week brings something new to the table as they listen to their participants but remain focused on the overall intention of the week.
“We want to achieve that balance of competitive events and festive events celebrating kids and families on their bikes,” explains Nolan.
With that in mind, they expanded race offerings last year to include an enduro event as well as a Triple Crown for the best overall riders in the enduro, pump track event as well as the Junior Wildflower Classic, a staple since year one. And have now added a bit more to the race mix for Junior Bike Week this year.
“We’ve seen an uptick in the caliber of racers in the older categories and based off rider feedback, we’ve added a longer course option,” says Nolan.
Meanwhile, the shorter races and courses will remain in place to still meet the needs of the younger and less experienced riders.
“For a lot of kids this is their first race,” says Nolan. “We‘re serving kids 6-8 years old up to 17-18 years old and want to provide a great experience for them and everyone in-between.”
The enduro remains in place as well as the pump track competition and the Triple Crown option and already registration is up from last year. Sixty-six kids signed for all three last year for a shot at the Triple Crown. This year over 100 have signed up with more sure to trickle in 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 outside of the competitive events starting on the first day Wednesday, June 22 as they kick things off with some trail work in the Crested Butte Bike Park and the premier of TGR’s latest bike film, Esperanto, at the Center for the Arts that evening.
“We were fortunate to get that 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 soccer field.
“We will have tacos for days for everyone,” says Nolan.
The racing begins on Friday, June 24 with the enduro, location to be announced a week from race day. The day concludes with a second showing of Esperanto at the Community School multi-purpose room.
Saturday, June 25 is primarily centered around the community school and the town of Crested Butte Bike Park, also the headquarters for the festival all week. There will be clinics, a foot-down competition, a tire huck and the second stage of the Triple Crown, the pump track competition. Not to mention more food and drinks for kids and families.
The festival comes to a climactic conclusion on Sunday, June 26 with the time-honored 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 every level of rider 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 the older kids.
“There’s 400 more feet of climbing and an additional two miles on the long course,” says Nolan.
While a festival of this magnitude does bring visions of people camping all over the valley and driving everywhere to get to places and races, Nolan and Crested Butte Devo are committed to do whatever possible to minimize impact, starting with camping.
“Thanks to the cooperation of the town and the school, we’re able to provide this type of event with pretty low impact,” says Nolan. “Camping will be provided at the town gravel pit and on the soccer field to keep campers out of the backcountry and from driving in and out of town. Sustainability is a huge priority.”
All information and registration can be found at juniorbikeweek.com. To see what Crested Butte Devo is all about, check out crestedbuttedevo.com.