Grand Rapids Bike Park combines grand opening with Mayor's Bike Ride, park cleanup

Deborah Johnson Wood

The rollers and berms on the pump track are in place, ready for the inaugural ride of Mayor George Heartwell during the Grand Rapids Bike Park grand opening Saturday, May 15. The mayor will lead his annual family-fun Mayor's Bike Ride after a morning of park cleanup by Friends of Grand Rapids Parks volunteers.

The pump track, designed with mogul-like rollers, keeps a rider's momentum going without pedaling. But more than that, the track teaches balance and turning skills mountain bikers need to know, says Nate Phelps, president of the Michigan Mountain Biking Association. Phelps approached the city of Grand Rapids four years ago with the idea to create the urban bike park.

The park, 580 Kirtland SW, is the only urban mountain bike park in the Midwest, Phelps says. Its design focuses on tracks and trails that help beginning mountain bikers learn basic skills and challenge experienced riders who want to build up speed and agility.

Two additional tracks, The Bob Loop named after bike park volunteer Bob Zeilman and a beginner loop, are under construction but will have sections done for the grand opening for visitors to experience.

"The Bob Loop is in the Plaster Creek riparian corridor, so we're making use of the unique terrain next to the creek," says Phelps. "The Bob Loop undulates with small climbs, but it's mostly about flow with big wide turns and a great line of sight with nothing hidden."

Future plans include adding challenges like a mock log pile and stair steps, re"cycling" the concrete from the park's former baseball dugouts into raised tracks, and more riding loops.

The grand opening celebration begins at 9 a.m. with a two-hour park cleanup open to anyone who wants to help (bring gloves), followed by a ribbon cutting at 11 a.m., the Mayor's Bike Ride and a ride down the Plaster Creek Trail.

Source: Nate Phelps, Grand Rapids Bike Park and Michigan Mountain Biking Association

Deborah Johnson Wood is development news editor for Rapid Growth Media. She can be contacted at deborah@rapidgrowthmedia.com. Development News tips can be sent to info@rapidgrowthmedia.com.
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