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Mountain bike skills park coming to VC



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Coming soon to Valley Center will be a Mountain Biking Skills Facility park. photo by Kim Ruzich.
July 02, 2014
Nestled in the back of Cole Grade Park, just behind the softball field, lies an emerging gem within the community. The first of its kind in San Diego County, a mountain biking skills facility is currently under construction, courtesy of the Gravity Cycling Incorporation.

Steve Ford headed up the design and construction, with Cameron Sinohui as his right hand man. Also involved is the San Diego Mountain Biking Association, which has donated $10,000 to date. Minette Ozaki, a Board member with both the SDMBA and the Valley Center Trails Association, has been heading up the resource development of this crown jewel for Mountain Bikers in Valley Center, as well as the whole of San Diego County mountain bike community. All three have donated their time and skills and have been working together to create this one-of-a-kind family friendly place for mountain bikers to practice their skills and have a blast while they are doing it. In addition, all the construction equipment and labor donated so far have been volunteers from the mountain biking community.

A tour of the tentatively titled "Crow's Nest Bike Skills Area" shows that there will be much for the avid mountain biker with three separate zones to experience. The entrance will have a sign and a decomposed granite path up to this unique facility that will provide hours of enjoyment for the entire family.

The first is the pump track. This is a course consisting of smooth rolling bumps (sometimes called rollers) and bermed corners that a rider negotiates by pulling up and "pumping" down on the bumps, gaining momentum and speed without ever pedaling. Besides being a great source of exercise, the skills learned on the pump track are transferred to the trails, allowing the rider to carry momentum and build endurance.

The second is the skills area. This is an area with varying levels of "skinnies," which are elevated, narrow trails, made from wood or rock, which teach proper riding position and balance. Beginner skinnies are low to the ground and wide. As skill and confidence are gained, riders can progress to skinnies that are narrower and more elevated. These skinnies take a great deal of balance and athleticism to navigate. There will also be several sharp switchbacks to ride through as well. Another facet to this area is a series of drops, consisting of descending levels of square dirt areas packed in and surrounded by logs. There will also be a series of log rollers, which are small pyramids of stacked logs.

The third part of the park is going to be the jump line. Starting out at the staging area, which is at the top of the hill overlooking the softball field, it will be a unidirectional track that will follow the outline of the park, with several "tabletops," which are raised sections of dirt that have a ramp at each end and a flat surface between them. There will also be a cross -ountry portion that will have rocks and more berms to navigate, and access to the skills area. A triangular shaped shade area overlooking the softball fields will be available for bikers to hang out and relax after their ride.

Part of the plan is to have special events, such as challenges, special guest speakers, and promotional events geared toward children. For this last type of event, bicycle manufacturer Haro has donated 20 balance bikes, which are small bikes with no pedals for toddlers. These will be available to borrow during these types of events.

With nearly 87,000 mountain bikers in San Diego County per the National Bicycle Dealers Association, this park will be a welcome addition, as previous efforts through the Parks and Recreation departments from the city and County of San Diego had largely gone ignored. The park is not yet open to the public, and still has several items on the "wish list," such as an Information Kiosk ($500), a rules sign ($50), picnic tables ($1,800), shade structures for the rest area ($5,000), a bike rack ($500), benches ($500), a tool station ($940), and even trash cans ($190). Donors with contributions of $200 or more in cash or in kind have the option to be recognized on site.

Those who would like to help out are welcome to send contributions via PayPal to Steve@GravityCyclinginc.com. All donations are tax deductible, as both the San Diego Mountain Bike Association and Gravity Cycling have their non profit 501 (c) 3 status.

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