The local mountain bike association is getting the wheels turning on upgrades to a new bike skills park — the first of its kind in the Bulkley Valley.
The Smithers Mountain Bike Association has started upgrades to the bike park on Pacific Way beside Elks Field, which will include graduated drops, a jump track, berms and table tops for people of all skill levels.
The bike park is several years old and the existing structures, such as the skinnies that bikers ride on have begun to rot.
“We demolished it a couple of years ago in hopes of rebuilding it so it’s much more suitable for families and other people wanting to use the park,” said Leanne Helkenberg, president of the association.
“It just needed a little bit of sprucing up, and upgrading compared to what was there before. It was quite old and getting a bit decrepit.”
Derek Pelzer, the trails director with the association who also helped design the new park, said it will utilize more space.
“[We’re] going to change it to be gravity-fed, so it can basically utitlize the whole area of the park,” said Pelzer.
“In the places where people would lose their speed, they wouldn’t utilize the rest of the park. Just to make it easier to spend more time there, rather than having to pedal to access all the features, they can do it with gravity.”
The total cost of the project is estimated at $25,000. So far, through fundraisers, raffles and a $10,000 grant from the Wetzin’kwa Community Forest Corporation, they’ve raised $13,000.
They are in the process of applying for a grant from the Northern Development Initiative Trust as well.
The club has already started putting in fill, but will have to wait on the status of the grant and for the snow to melt before they can really get the ball rolling.
“We’re going to try and secure the grant and work toward the construction schedule. That will really define when we’ll be able to put the shovels to the ground,” said Helkenberg, adding that they’ve already had lots of support from the community and the town.
Once the park is complete, the club hopes it will be a place for riders of all ages to hone their skills.
“There will be three progressive lines: beginning, intermediate and advanced. The design is made for our ridership to build their skills. There’s going to be graduated drops, it’ll be a place for them to build their skills before they head out onto the hills,” said Pelzer.
The park is also the first of its kind in the Bulkley Valley, the next closest bike skills park is in Burns Lake, said Helkenberg.
The park should be completed by the summer.