Keystone ups the ante in mountain biking adventure with new Drop Zone
KEYSTONE – Greg Rood’s long-time vision became a reality Friday, resulting in many happy mountain bikers.Opening day of Keystone Resort’s biking season included the unveiling the new drop zone halfway up Dercum Mountain.Rood, the resort’s bike park supervisor, has been closely involved with the project for more than three years.”This was my vision,” Rood said. “I knew we needed something like this for the public.”Keystone’s executives were in agreement so they sent their trail building guru to the epi-center of North American mountain biking – Whistler, B.C.
“I went to see what they had because that’s where the craze is right now,” Rood said. “Everybody wants to go there. … When I got back, I started hiking around (Keystone) looking for a spot where we could build ours.”Rood and company finally settled on a steep, slightly wooded section of terrain near the top of the Paid in Full biking trail. From a skier’s perspective, the Drop Zone is located between the Santa Fe and Green Dipper trails.”It’s a good area because it has steep, smooth landings,” Rood said. “And it’s located right next to the trail system, so bikers can get back on to it quickly.”The Drop Zone’s debut seemed to be highly anticipated by mountain biking enthusiasts.”The whole (biking) community knew it was opening this year,” Evergreen’s Dana Chenoweth said Saturday. “Pretty much everyone you talk to knows that Keystone has the premier biking in Colorado.”The new Drop Zone has four separate alleys that encompass a series of North Shore bridges, as well as a rock drop and a rock garden.
“Most of the alleys include some free fall,” bike park crew member Gregg Tompkins said. “There’s one you can go all the way down (on the ground) but on all the others, it’s mandatory that you fly through the air.”The first alley alone has three different ramps to choose from – Piranha, marked as 5 feet minimum, Barracuda (7 feet minimum) and Jaws (14 feet minimum).”I like how they have the progression,” Orbit Racing pro rider Bill TeSelle said. “You can’t do anything if you don’t have progression. No kid is going to come out here and hit that thing (pointing to Jaws), if they don’t have something to work on.”Rood agrees that a mixture of big and small elements was part of the master plan.”If little kids start riding here when they’re 10, we can hopefully keep them going if they’re still riding here at age 20,” he said. “The progression line is why people will come back.”The Drop Zone’s remaining three alleys – Paranoid, Voodoo and Witch Doctor are various degrees of black-diamond descents.
Tompkins, who assisted in creating the Drop Zone, was struck by the excitement surrounding it and Keystone’s freeride features in general. “People are psyched to see us adding new elements,” he said. “A lot of riders will stop and lend a hand when were out there building stuff. A lot of people want to give back.”Like Rood, Tompkins found opening weekend at Keystone to be very satisfying.”This is what the riders wanted,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to give it to them.”Adam Boffey can be contacted at (970) 668-4634, or at email@example.com.
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