Lyons Outdoor Games
What’s not to like about a paddling-oriented outdoor festival on a revamped whitewater play park on a banner water year a stone’s throw from a rockin’ brewery?
Not much (pardon the double negative). That’s why this year’s 5th Annual Lyons Outdoor Games, Saturday, June 9, in Lyons, Colorado, promises to rock as large as the local quarries the course was made from.
Lyons is nestled in the foothills 15 miles north of Boulder and 40 miles from Denver on the way to Rocky Mountain National Park. It’s a multi-cultural town, with Planet Bluegrass hosting music festivals with internationally renowned artists; Oskar Blues Bar and Grill the birthplace of nationally celebrated Dale’s Pale Ale; and an outdoor Art Walk for local artists of all ages. It also offers mountain bike and hiking trails at Heil Ranch and Hall Ranch (known among the biking locals as “Haul-Ass Ranch”). But it’s the St. Vrain River that will star t his year, with four different play holes (designed and constructed by local kayakers) located in scenic downtown (with Class III-V creek boating on the two forks upstream).
Formerly known as the Lyons Whitewater Festival, this year’s games have expanded to include downriver racing, boater X, amateur and pro freestyle, and the addition of a creek race. This year it will also host a Bike Trials competition and Dog Trick competition.
“Our goal is to create an outdoor event that’s attractive to a wide range of people, both as competitors and spectators,” says organizer Matt Booth, who has lined up a cadre of sponsors to make this year’s event better than ever. “It’s different from some of the more widely publicized “extreme sports” venues because of the eclectic nature of the town. We wanted to create a venue where “cross cultural” sports are present, as well as a wide range of skill level.”
Although both Olympic and professional athletes (EJ, Dane and Emily Jackson [from Team Jackson], Team Dagger, Team Wave Sport, Team Riot, Scott Shipley, Gary Lacy, and other top paddlers as well as Ripstoke on bike) are expected to attend this year, booth wants to ensure the “regular Joe/Jill” feels at home as well. “There’s no snobbery here,” he says. “There is a lot of fun and camaraderie amongst all who attend, no matter what capacity.”
While last year’s event saw 75 competitors and 500 spectators, this year booth is expecting even bigger numbers, with such sponsors as Boulder Toyota-Scion, Dagger, Jackson Kayaks, the Town of Lyons, Ripstoke Mountain Bikes, Bitterbursh Cycles, Paddling Life, Eddyflower and the Oskar Blues brewery all signing on. “We’ve had tremendous response from sponsors, and there’ll be tons of prizes (cash and retail) for each event,” says Booth, adding that the post party at Oskar Blues promises to be as raging as the river.