"The Stowe Bike Park is like a skateboard park gone mad, with multiple mounds of dirt lined up in succession, sculpted into shapes designed to launch a rider into the air. Next to them is a large mound with wooden ramps of different heights to launch from, and a knotted group of small, linked bumps called a pump track. A collection of logs and rocks takes up another area. Images of a snowboard park come to mind, with its linked jumps and rails, but even that doesn't come close to describing the place.
"We now have a total of 44 jumps, from beginner to expert," says Knecht. "We also added a skills course to help riders get their skills up for riding in the woods." The skills course features logs to ride on that turn in the middle, logs to roll over, and a rock garden to ride through.
The dirt jumps are pairs of earthen mounds, one for going up, and one for the landing. It is an amazing thing to watch riders of all ages, one of them just three-years-old, flying around the park, leaping from set to set without pause. The more talented, or perhaps braver, are able to do flips, twists and other tricks while airborne. The three-year-old doesn't actually fly around the park, but he is practicing his jumping skills.
Every jump will cause the bike and rider to take off, become airborne, and land differently. Knecht said that he works with riders to help them negotiate the jumps.
"There are two 13-year-olds and a 14-year-old hitting big jumps and I want to make sure they get it right," he said. "I know every jump well, what it is going to do and how it will affect the rider."
The park is not a static entity. It changes with use and requires daily maintenance, the workload dictated by the amount of use. Volunteers shovel dirt at least three times a week to maintain safe take-offs and landings and to fill in ruts. Knecht, who earns his living at AJ's Ski and Sports, volunteers 20-25 hours a week to run the park. He said that the kids self-police the grounds, and each other, to maintain a safe park. The work is paying off for the locals
and already contributing to the economy of the tourist town.
"Tourists come from all over to ride here," Knecht says. "We've had pros come and it's amazing what they can do. It encourages me and the other riders; we know what's possible."
Riders interested in trying it out are welcome. Stopping in at a local bike shop is a good way to connect with riders who know the park and are happy to share their knowledge.
There are usually eight to ten riders at the park during the peak time of 5-6 p.m. Helmets are required, pads recommended, and parking is away from the park near the soccer field."
Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vDyDxuIbP9k