From Western to the Dirt Farm; Unique trail project on campus ready to ride for new school year
Aug. 18, 2011 (by Matt Smith, "Gunnison Country Times") -- The hills behind the Western State College of Colorado (WSC) campus are alive with recreation, much to the credit of the college’s own graduates.
WSC graduates (l-r) Justin Varalijay, Ryan Sullivan and Adam Lottig recently completed a "flow trail" behind campus. It's the first of what's hoped to be many projects for Flow Farm Dirt Productions. Photo by Matt Smith.
As the finishing touches on the latest addition to the sage-covered slopes behind Mountaineer Bowl took place this week, a unique cycling feature was unveiled and a business with roots in the Gunnison Valley was born.
The half-mile “flow trail” provides plenty of tight turns and opportunities to air it out along the way. But, according to the three WSC alumni who designed and built the unique feature, it’s user friendly to just about anyone on two wheels.
“We really wanted to design it so there’s at least one line that’s all roll-able,” said Ryan Sullivan, a graduate of 2006. “There are phases that can be fun for everyone, from beginners to advanced and expert riders.”
It’s the first independent trail project for Sullivan and his two partners — Justin Varaljay (2007) and Adam Lottig (2008) — who have formed the company Flow Farm Dirt Productions (FFDP).
All three have years of experience in the trail building business, primarily with Single Track Trails, a similarly focused company out of Fort Collins. Past projects include Curt Gowdy State Park in Wyoming and the Lunch Loop trail system outside of Grand Junction.
It was while working with Single Track Trails that the three hatched their own business plan to specialize in the niche market of building “flow trails,” which are a more recent development in the progression of sustainable free ride cycling.
“When free ride mountain biking first started, a lot of the trails that people built were straight fall-line, on your break, style of trails,” said Lottig. “Throughout the progression of the sport and trail building, the sustainability of those fall-line trails just wasn’t ideal.”
When they pitched the idea for the new trail to campus leaders last year, it was received with positive feedback. While the intramurals program funded the project, Vice President for Student Affairs Gary Pierson acted as a facilitator and Paul Morgan’s Facilities Services Department stepped up to help the cause.
“It’s been a group effort with collaboration on a lot of different fronts, but it was (Flow Farm’s) energy and persistence that made this happen,” said Pierson. “They had a vision and they were able to follow through and see it come to fruition.”
Pierson went on to tout the trail as another great amenity that students can utilize right on campus. The disc golf course, which is also behind Mountaineer Bowl, was expanded by nine holes over the summer.
The flow trail could also aide in major advancements for WSC club cycling program. The recruitment and retention of athletes is one advantage, while drawing a bid on a conference event could be another.
“The reality is if we want to hold a collegiate race, we have to build a dual slalom course,” said Pierson. “We’re certainly looking at that being the next venture.”
Relocating the pump track just north of Mountaineer Bowl to somewhere closer to the flow trail is also on the docket.
“Our vision is to bring more things to the bike park,” said Varaljay. “Even if this is all we ever get, I’m stoked. It’s been a dream job.”
The flow trail begins just north of the water towers and ends just behind the Mountaineer Bowl press box. For more information about FFDP, visit their website at flowfarmdirtproductions.com.