Reinventing the wheel

Eric Krause demonstrates the fun at the park. Photo by Max Cooper.

Kolo Bike Park is the adrenaline-junkie’s wonderland. “It's like a little piece of roller coaster, except I get to drive!” says Eric Krause in reference to the fall-away tabletop, his favorite section of the park. The 20-year veteran mountain biker is the brains behind the project. Asheville is a world-class cycling destination, he says, and Kolo will offer locals and tourists the area’s only purpose-built mountain bike flow trail system.

BioWheels Asheville closed its doors in January, and Krause has ventured from retail into the mountain bike instruction, flow trails and rental business. Located just a mile from the heart of downtown Asheville, nestled behind the Westgate shopping center, Kolo Bike Park will be the newest addition to The Adventure Center of Asheville, which already features zip-lines, suspension bridges and an extensive high-ropes course.

Kolo Bike Park will be the Center's first ground-based activity with more than five miles of climbs, descents, jumps, bridges and other creative obstacles. “The goal is to have an in-town venue for fun and competitive bike events that are within bike-commuting distance for most of the community. We've also created a comfortable environment for mountain bikers to hang out whether for a safe group outing or to find their personal edge,” Krause says.

The word “kolo” is Slavic for circle or wheel, and with the help of pro-downhill rider Ryan Taylor, Krause has structured the park around Kolo Flow, allowing the rolling terrain to help skilled riders maintain a challenging momentum while offering newer riders a controlled environment to build confidence. He notes that both novice and advanced riders will be satisfied with the trails.

The park will also focus on teaching balance, body position and proper ergonomics. “There are a lot of terrible mountain-bike-riding myths out there that people follow like the gospel,” says Krause, and explains that even intermediate and advanced riders can benefit from reviewing proper bike fit and body positioning. Krause plans to offer the first series of bike clinics at Kolo by late summer.

The Adventure Center is already a popular tourism destination, and Krause hopes to cater to both tourists and locals. “For the tourist, it's the perfect place to come rent a bike and get the flavor of mountain biking in our area,” he says. “But we are holding regular events and races that will cater to the local cycling community as well.” Beyond a local discount and frequent-rider passes, Kolo will host regular skills clinics and races including short track, time trial, cyclocross and cross country events. “A rider can learn new skills and then test them out against the clock or other competitors at one of the many race events,” says Krause.

Kolo Bike Park hosted a soft opening in mid-July to much positive feedback from several members of the local mountain biking community. Veteran rider John Caldwell says, “Compared to Bent Creek, Kolo has more berms, jumps and features.” He’s excited for the park to reach full potential as well, “I can imagine a fun afternoon of bike racers, families, kids, all riding the trails as people zip by on the zip-lines above, and bike jumpers catching air as folks watch a bike jumping contest.”

Kolo Bike Park is now open to the public, just in time for fall.


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