By Steve Frothingham
Even in one of the most bike-crazy communities in the country, this is something special.
The city council in Boulder, Colorado, has approved spending $700,000 next year to develop a 40-acre bike park that will include a cyclocross course, a mountain bike terrain park and a pump dirt jump area, among other features.
The park’s boosters — who are still looking for donations and grants to expand the park even further — say their success in shepherding the plan through a lengthy bureaucratic process could be a model for other communities. They also are hoping that within a few years the park can host major competitions, including the cyclocross national championships.
In 1996 the city bought 132 acres about three miles east of downtown Boulder. Cyclists came out in force for early public input sessions, where plans were considered for the former junk yard lot.
“At the first meeting, there were 68 people and 65 of them were cyclists,” said Bobby Noyes, a long-time advocate for the park.
Soon after, however, the park’s development went to the back burner when city tax revenue declined. Over the years the city has cleared some of the space, installed utilities, a toddler play area, a bike path underpass and a dog park. Otherwise most of the space is serving as residence for hundreds of prairie dogs (who will be relocated before bike park construction can begin).
Establishing a relationship with the Parks and Recreation Department has been the key to making the bike park a near-reality, said Noyes, who is the liaison between the city and the Boulder Mountain Bike Alliance.
“(Parks and Recreation Department employees) have enough to worry about with softball and soccer; they don’t know anything about bikes and they don’t have time, ” Noyes said. “We’ve been able to come in with a plan put together by people who know how to build bike parks, and we can line up people to teach classes and clinics.”
The park is intended for everyday use by all levels and ages of cyclists. It also will include all facilities necessary for events; advocates are even talking to a local charity about sponsoring a permanent start/finish line archway on the cyclocross course.
“Everything is going to be purpose-built so if an event promoter does want to come in, they are not renting fencing,they are not renting bathroom. Everything is dialed and it’s turn-key,” he said.
The city has qualified bidders to design the bike features — Boulder-based IMBA is one of the approved bidders — and has put the project out to bid to landscape architects.
Meanwhile, the Mountain Bike Alliance is looking for donations that will help secure a $200,000 matching grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, a trust fund supported by lottery revenue. To get the grant, the group needs to show a wide level of community interest, so even small donations are valuable, Noyes said.
“The park will get built whether we get the grant or not. This would just make it that much better,” Noyes said.
For more information or to make a donation, go to www.valmontbikepark.com.