In 2013 Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo Council set aside a budget to conduct a feasibility study to create a non-motorized Bike Park. After three information sessions to gain input from the public on the location for this park. Five possible sites in Fort McMurray were put forward; North Parson, Silin Forest Road, Lower Wolverine, Real Martin Drive, and Abram Lands. Survey respondents from the public input sessions and online survey overwhelmingly chose Silin Forest Road site as the best site for the new cycling amenity. At 38.0 HA site construction started in the fall of 2014. Site will supports all cycling components but require trail building and appropriate stewardship on completion of trail building by the cycling community.
Site is comprised mostly of native tree cover and vegetation with some cleared areas and has varied slopes with some flat areas.
Site has a baseball diamond adjacent to Bike Park provides a parking area. There is access from Thickwood Blvd, Ross Haven Drive, Romany Street, and Thicket Drive for major cycling events.
In 2015 the Bike Park hosted the Western Canada Summer Games cross country mountain bike and eliminator events. A group of volunteers worked very hard to plan this very successful event.
Now that the new trails have been completed it would be great to blend in the old trails within the park to the new trail system to create lots of riding options. The old trails would add the single track component currently missing. The potential for future trail links including the lower wolverine that is linear in nature would make it great to mountain bike trails, and endure cycling events. Club membership
It is now up to the Fort McMurray cycling community to provide stewardship for the future of the park in partnership with the Municipality of Wood Buffalo.
The Emergence of Bike Parks
Here is some very interesting insight from the IMBA site.
In just 20 years, mountain bikes have progressed from clunkers to hardtails to huckers, and our most heralded places to ride have changed from Marin to Moab to Whistler.
So what’s next? By our guess, bike parks are the hot ticket. Also known as bike skills parks, freeride parks or challenge parks, these playgrounds are popping up all over, and riders are loving them.
IMBA counts more than 30 purpose-built public bike skills parks in the U.S. and Canada, and many more in the U.K., Australia and beyond. Most have been built within the past two years. And this figure doesn’t include the hundreds of ski areas who’ve been offering mountain biking since the 80’s, nor privately owned bike parks such as the innovative Joyride150, in Markham, ON.
So, what’s a bike park? While there doesn’t seem to be a set recipe, the ingredients usually include a variety of natural obstacles such as rocks and logs, imaginatively constructed features like teeters and ladder bridges and dirt jumps – all collected in a small setting. Picture a skateboard park or snowboard park, but designed specifically for mountain bikes.
The emergence of bike parks is fueled by both riders and public land managers. Riders seek more challenging terrain, jumps, constructed obstacles, and a place to hone their skills. Managers want to reign in unauthorized trailbuilding and provide new recreation options in a central, easily managed location.
While these parks come in different shapes and sizes, they share the common thread of helping make technically challenging mountain biking more readily available to the public – especially kids. They usually accommodate a wide range of abilities, with opportunities for skill building and progressively difficult challenges. Riders return to these parks again and again to session the obstacles and improve their riding.
Bike parks do much more than mimic terrain found in nature. They also offer unique obstacles that stretch the imagination. They’re not a replacement for traditional trails. Rather, they serve as an additional outlet for riders, one that’s technically oriented, convenient, controlled – and a whole lot of fun.
Photos Provided by Robert Murray