“I think it’s going to be one of the best in B.C. It’s huge!” said 13-year-old BMX biker, Wilson Rousseau, of the new bike skills park currently under development at Sixth Avenue Park.
Rousseau speaks from experience, having checked out five other bike parks in the province, many of them designed by Jay Hoots, who is in Hope with his Hoots Inc. crew to build the park.
“Jay was at the skate park on Saturday and I was riding with him,” added Rousseau, who said he has been checking out the new park’s progress almost daily. He said he plans to help the crew with building the tracks and jumps, when they are ready for volunteers. (For those under age 18, a parental consent form must be signed.)
Rousseau was at the bike park open house at the rec centre on Friday, where over 30 students and at least 10 adults came out to meet Hoots and hear about the plans for the park.
Following the indoor session, Hoots took the group on a walking tour of the park, to speak about the roughed-out features and gather input from riders.
Hoots said he got into bike park building through his passion for bike riding. He still takes part in events and is a sponsored rider for Norco.
“All five crew members are also riders,” he told the crowd. “We brought the A-team to build in your back yard.”
Friday’s teacher professional development day meant students were free to attend the open house.
“It’s been hard to get everyone together to get your feedback,” said Hoots, a North Vancouver resident.
“I visited here a bunch, to see what a really cool design would be. I took another look today — and I think we should change it to something even cooler.”
Hoots asked for a show of hands on preferences for jumps or berms (banked turns). Roughly 75 per cent were in favour of more jumps.
“I’ll learn to do jumps… but you guys will have to take me to the hospital!” joked Stephanie Hooker, of AdvantageHOPE. Hooker is a key planner and promoter of the Sixth Avenue Park improvements.
Once finished, the skills park will include features for all levels of riders, from beginner to advanced.
The generous size of the space has even allowed for a “grom” pump track, a circuit with a series of small hills and bermed turns for the youngest of riders. This is the third such track Hoots’ team has built. The other two were in Toronto, Ont. and Hinton, Alta.
The bike skills park is set in the forest between the Coquihalla Campground and River Parade, with many of the trees being left in place. The wood from danger trees and others that had to be taken out will be used in the build. A portable mill was brought in to cut the timber into dimensional lumber, which has been stockpiled for later use.
Hoots was especially proud of the elevated log ride that has been named “Logzilla,” made from an 80-foot (24-metre) log that was split down the middle and will be placed end-to-end.
It’s sure to be a right of passage for bikers.
“It took me a 12-hour day to rip Logzilla and a curved cedar log,” said crew member Ben McInnes, of Camrose, Alta. “It took out an older chain saw, too.”
There is much work still to be done but Hoots is hoping to be ready by the end of November.
“There’s only so much you can do when it’s raining,” he added. “We may have to wait and be patient. If we have to stop until the spring, we’d figure out what is usable and leave it like that.”
In the next few weeks, volunteers will be needed for shoveling, wheelbarrowing and jump building.
“Once you see that we’ve got dirt, that’s when we need you. We will teach you how to make jumps as well as we do,” said Hoots.
On Nov. 4 at 7 p.m. at the rec centre’s conference room, AdvantageHOPE will be hosting a presentation on mountain biking, geared for adults.
“Two speakers from the Western Canada Mountain Bike Tourism Association will attend,” said Hooker. “There will be a presentation on the social and economic benefits of developing mountain bike infrastructure in our community. This will be followed by a brief description of the opportunities that AdvantagHOPE sees in the Hope area, as well as an overview of the mountain bike skills park that is currently under construction.”