If you build it, they will ride | SteamboatToday.com

If you build it, they will ride

Brian Deem tries the rebuilt jumps at the Howelsen Hill BMX track during a test ride after working on them Wednesday night.
Dave Shively

— Brian Deem had raced BMX bikes his whole life – that is until he moved to Steamboat Springs.

Deem recently teamed with Gina Grether to begin work to improve the dilapidated BMX track at Howelsen Hill, first built in 1992. The pair received permission from the city to move forward with their plans to make the course – overgrown with weeds – rideable again.

With five truckloads of dirt donated by Native Excavating and a Bobcat skid-steer loader courtesy of Prestige Property Detailing, Deem, Grether and a few other local riders took the first steps toward renovation of the track. But the volunteers knew that without additional funding, the changes would only be temporary improvements. Consistent volunteer maintenance would be required to keep the course in good condition.

Then, Heath Corwin took notice of their efforts.

“I read the (July 23 Steamboat Pilot & Today) article, talked to my boss at Nordic Excavating, and he agreed to donate the equipment,” said Corwin, who works as the Steamboat Ski Area’s terrain park designer and has experience building BMX and motocross tracks. “If not for (Deem and Grether’s) ambition, I wouldn’t be out here.”

Nordic Excavating donated 15 dump truck loads of premium clay, the use of another skid-steer and a Caterpillar D-5 bulldozer. After three weekends of work, Deem and Grether’s dream is becoming reality.

“It saved us 2,000 hours of shovel time – or whole summers – with the skid-steer,” Grether said.

The crew has completed 95 percent of the final track shape and now only has to spread the clay in a uniform 6-inch layer over the track before winter hits. The clay will not only create a faster, safer surface that Deem said “you’ll be able to put skid marks on,” but it also will preserve and define the track’s features.

With a functional eight-lane track ready for the spring, Grether is now looking ahead at new details. She plans to spend the winter working out the organizational plans to begin a summer racing series and to get the course sanctioned under the American Bicycle Association.

After a brief after-work dig session Wednesday evening, Deem lined up atop the starting gate with two local riders who had come by to check out the renewed course. Grether called out, “Racers ready?” before kicking down the gate as the three riders pedaled furiously over the widened sets of jumps and berms, hinting at promising things to come.

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