The following story by Barbara LaBoe was published in the Daily News on February 20, 2012. Photos by Bill Wagner
With more than 1,000 volunteer hours behind them, builders of the Castle Rock Bike Park say they’re making good progress and hope to have the project completed by the fall.
Bicyclists are already enjoying the fruits of the labor.
“They’re out here already trying it out,” said Jim LeMonds, who is heading up the work as part of the Growlers Gulch Racing club. “It’s great to see.”
The park, located on city land at Dike Road and Warren Street, is actually three different bike areas in one. There’s an elevated trail for riders that includes areas to jump and get air. There’s a “pump track” — which allows cyclists to use their body and the bike’s momentum to travel the course without pedaling. And there’s the yet-to-be constructed skills area that will give cyclists a chance to practice going over rocks and downed trees and other items they’d encounter when mountain biking.
The goal, LeMonds said, is to have something for everyone.
At most bike parks “it’s either really challenging or stuff that’s almost nothing,” said volunteer Ryan McMasters of Battle Ground. In Castle Rock, though, the concept is to offer something for everyone at the same site.
A raised, plank trail, for example, ends with a large jump for experienced riders. But it also has a small ramp just below for those with more moderate skills. And while some riders can traverse the pump track without pedalling, anyone else can pedal away and still enjoy it, LeMonds said.
Pump tracks are growing in popularity, but the closest ones to Cowlitz County are in Seattle and Gresham, Ore. Volunteers and city officials expect the Castle Rock track to become a regional draw and say they believe it will be the largest in the Pacific Northwest when completed.
The goal is to finish the work this fall, though LeMonds said they’ll never truly stop improving and refining the track. Landscaping also will be added once the main construction work is complete.
LeMonds estimates the track would cost nearly $200,000 if contracted out, but his group hopes to spend about $20,000 and finish the rest with volunteers and donations. No city money is involved.
Organizers are especially proud of the amount of “recycled” material they’ve been able to use. Parts of a Castle Rock street that were torn up are now piled together to build a landing. Old PUD poles bound for a chipper have instead been cut down for supports and obstacles. Surplus four-by-fours have been hauled up from the Oregon Transportation Department’s salvage yard and some concrete slabs from replaced sidewalks have been crushed into gravel.
“We joke we’re the kings of recycling,” LeMonds said.
So far, more than 1,000 volunteer hours have been donated by 71 volunteers. Watching McMasters and volunteer/designer Kevin Knorr practice jumps Friday, LeMonds said all the work is worth it.
“See people out here, that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “The smiles on their faces, that makes all this worth doing.