Evergreen Mountain Bike Festival offers muddy thrills
June 12, 2012
By Lillian O'Rorke
Walking along the trail through Duthie Hill Park on June 9, the only sign that a mountain bike festival was taking place was the occasional rider that whizzed past.
Nearing the center of the 130-acre park, the tops of tents began to peek out through the trees. Soon, music seeped into the air and a clearing gave way to booths, bikes and people with mud-caked legs.
“We are celebrating mountain biking. This is just a great chance for everyone to get together,” said Stacy Karacostas, communications and membership director for the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance.
For the third year in a row, the non-profit group hosted the Evergreen Mountain Bike Festival. The event attracted more than 1,200 people.
“This is our biggest event of the year…we are definitely hopping,” Karacostas added.
Karacostas was busy that day renewing memberships, selling raffle tickets and handing out information packs. Around her, local vendors sold bratwursts, bike companies held demonstrations and a few festivalgoers paused for a break in the beer garden.
Other riders took advantage of the park’s new practice features, like progression jumps and two pump tracks that allow riders to practice navigating the bike over bumps.
Those in the mood for some friendly competition took part in the Duthie Dash, a cross country time trial race, the Dual Slalom Race or the Jump-Off Huck Contest, where riders soared into the air to cheer of the crowd.
“This is so exciting. Active recreation is such an important part of our parks,” King County Councilwoman Kathy Lambert said.
The representative for Sammamish and Issaquah didn’t let the fact that she has to temporarily use crutches to get around keep her from hiking into the festival grounds.
“It’s important we honor people who are biking and get more and more people involved,” she said.
Lambert was there that day to help celebrate the completion of the second phase of the joint effort between King County and the Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance to build eight miles of mountain biking trails in Duthie Hill Park.
While two miles of free ride trails offer large jumps and stunts, six miles of cross country bike trails offer something for everyone.
“The park accommodates all levels,” said Butch Lovelace, King County youth sports facility grant manager. “The demographic of the 68-year-old mountain biking woman is not who I had in mind, but they’re out here.”
So far, Lovelace said, about $350,000 from the county, $150,000 from the state, thousands of private donations and nearly 20,000 volunteer hours have gone into creating the mountain bike park.
Evergreen Mountain Bike Alliance officials estimate that the park already receives more than 75,000 visits a year.
“It’s been a really successful partnership with a really modest amount of money,” he said. “The park was built for mountain bikers by mountain bikers.”
Samuel Baker, 9, and his family live just down the street and estimate they have totaled about 40 hours volunteering in the park. With more than 60 hours logged building trails and features, 16-year-old Max Prendergast, of Sammamish, held his last birthday at Duthie and even has a jump named after him.
“I love this place…I’ve got to know so many people out here. There is such a sense of community,” he said.
Prendergast said for him, the mountain bike riding is freedom.
“Being out in the woods with my friends, it takes me away from homework and the world,” he added.
Karacostas said she was surprised when she learned that many of the volunteers were local high school students.
“You don’t usually see people that age out here on their own volition,” she said. “Everyone is just so excited …they have just been awesome.”
Lillian Tucker: 392-6434, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Comment at www.issaquahpress.com.