July 4th 2012
Language is an amazing thing for many reasons and I’ve always had a deep appreciation for it. Today I added a new language to my repertoire – I’m going to call it MBS – Mountain Bike Speak. Truthfully, I set out to learn more about the new Sunnyside Bike Park being built in our area and got a little sidetracked by the new features – it has garnered plenty of enthusiasm and excitement. Features will include: a Skills Zone, a Pumptracks area, a Jump Line zone, and Drop and Wall Ride area. At a loss, I realized I’d have to delve a little deeper.
So we’ll start at the beginning. The course which will take over a currently unused area between the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore; running between Ellis Ave and Colborne Lodge Drive – is being designed by one of the most internationally acclaimed bike park designers, Jay Hoots. Jay Hoots is a Canadian mountain biker who’s ridden with the Norco Team for years – he describes his discipline as Dirt Jump and FreeRide, and is a self- (and publicly) proclaimed Mountain Bike Advocate. When Jay’s not on a bike, he’s thinking about bike courses. HOOTS INC. is an accomplished Skills park and trail design/build company, with over 30 of its bike parks all over the globe.
What’s interesting about these bike parks is they have a deep connection with sustainability and nature. Bikers enjoy nature as much as any hiker and use their trails with respect. So the really good news for all of us non-bikers, is that a previously unused, rather unsightly , stuck-between-two-highways space is going to not only keep the plants, grass and trees already there, but be beautified even more and turned into a really amazing park for bikers of all skills. And the current “unofficial” bike park in the woods of High Park, will be given back to the chipmunks.
There has been a lot of consideration given to who is going to use this park – there will be an area for everybody – experts to beginners, trick riders to riders with kids in trail-a-bikes. Hoots Inc. has designed the park to allow for groups of different skill levels to ride together without traffic issues.
“The Sunnyside Bike Park incorporates a series of different areas that provide specific ride opportunities but everything can tie together. The park has a pump track zone, Huge jump zone, Wall ride, Drop Zones and elevated ladder rides with skinnies. There is a perimeter trail that gets you from section to section or you can just hang out and pull a trail-a-bike with the kids. I tried to keep as many trees as possible and we will be planting more so the park with have lots of shade. I am trying some new concepts with tying advanced and intermediate lines together with some beginner stuff so that everyone can ride together but not have cross traffic issues. I think I have a precedent-setting number of lines and the park is going to really provide huge opportunity for riders to create all sorts of new lines…awesome!” – Jay Hoots
Now let me translate…or rather Hoots Inc. translates for us:
“A ‘Skills Zone’ is the welcome mat to mountain biking and offers opportunity for riders of all ages on all types of bikes to learn and practice bike handling in a planned safe natural environment that allows Skills succession through progression based features that are all within a dynamic self taught environment.”
“Pump Track Zone” is an area filled with small rolling hills where kids can simply have fun riding over them or a spot where riders can figure out how to gain momentum from pumping and make it over all the hills without actually pedalling.
A Jumpline area is exactly that – a series of different level jumps on a trail (also called a “line” in MBS) for the bikers to use; and a Drop and Wall ride area is literally a section where bikers can learn to drop down onto a line or ride a bike up a wall and back down again.
The beauty of all of these features is that avid mountain bikers want to learn how to do these things safely and skilfully; and to be able to do so on a course of this calibre, will provide an amazing service to our community. So not only do we have some serious cool factor added to our neighbourhood, but also a beautiful park– including a drop off area, restrooms and shady benches (if you’d rather watch than ride) and all in a place where there was once nothing.
And let’s face it – it’s got us all a little stoked! (Mountain Bike Speak for pretty excited!)