Community members, city leaders, and cycling enthusiasts flocked to Skypark in Scotts Valley last Saturday to celebrate the grand opening of the long-anticipated mountain bike and BMX pump track.
Situated adjacent to the dog park, the pump track features a series of sculpted dirt mounds, dips, and climbs designed to replicate the conditions of a BMX course or a mountain bike trail.
Billed as an attraction for beginners and experts of any age, the project took 3 years and approximately $18,000 to complete, said Nick Thelen, a member of the Scotts Valley Parks And Recreation Commission, who helped spearhead the project.
At approximately 14,000 square feet, the course is one of the largest in the county, Thelen said, and could not have been built without the support of the local cycling community.
“It was truly a community effort to get this up and running,” he said. “A lot of that could not have happened without the Mountain Bikers of Santa Cruz (MBOSC), and Fox, Bell, and other businesses, as well.”
The funds raised for the pump track allowed the organizers to hire Alex Fowler of Action Sports Construction, to transform what had existed as a couple of haphazard dirt piles into a professional pump track that Thelen said would be safer and more user-friendly.
“It was (Fowler’s) design and his expertise that put this track together,” he said.
According to Thelen, the course offers many different combinations of routes that cyclists can attempt, based on their individual skill levels.
There is even a separate “bunny slope” for neophyte riders to gain confidence before tackling the pump track’s larger formations.
“It’s a very inclusive,” Thelen said. “There are multiple lines, a beginner course … it’s a pretty fun thing to do.”
Now that the pump track is open, he said, it will be part of Skypark and will be administered by city recreation staff.
The location, however, is only temporary, Thelen said.
The site of the pump track lies directly on property earmarked for the proposed Town Center development.
When and if ground ever breaks on the Town Center, Thelen said, that will be it for the pump track until a more suitable, permanent location can be found.
Even so, he said he was optimistic that the current pump track would garner enough community interest in the sport, that the subject of a permanent course would be met with receptive ears when the time came.
“This gives us time for a community introduction,” Thelen said.
Scotts Valley Recreation Division Manager Kristin Ard applauded the donations and volunteers that got the project off the ground.
“It was all donations and volunteers,” she said. “I think it’s a really nice addition.”
Ard added that she was happy to see the project come together with an eye toward making it appeal to users of all ages — one of the calling cards of Skypark.
“Any age can participate,” she said. “I’m just really excited to have it as another amenity we have here at Skypark.”