Cycling community plans a skills park at Mt. McIntyre

Whitehorse’s biking community is, like, in perfect balance. Just a few weeks after vandals destroyed some mountain bike stunts on Grey…

Whitehorse’s biking community is, like, in perfect balance.

Just a few weeks after vandals destroyed some mountain bike stunts on Grey Mountain’s Bogaloo trails, the biking community reached the final stage of preparation for a new skills park at Mount McIntyre.

“Our goal is to build a dirt-jumping skills park primarily for mountain bikes, but also for BMXs or other similar things,” said Mike Stevely, a member of the Contagious Mountain Bike Club, who has been planning the park with co-member Devon McDiarmid over the last few years.

“The issue has been — it certainly has not been interest, there’s piles of interest — but the issue has been (finding) a suitable location for it.”

The Contagious Mountain Bike Club and the Yukon Cycling Association originally tried to obtain a permit to the Mt. McIntyre site on their own in January, but failed to acquire a full go-ahead.

“That process went quite well, and we did have interim access to the site,” said Stevely. “However, there were issues surrounding liability and we were unable to get the required liability insurance.”

Because of this setback, Whitehorse’s planning and parks and recreation departments, both of whom supported the plans early on, stepped in to acquire the land from the Yukon government.

“That way the liability for the park falls under the city’s general liability,” said Stevely. “This is the way that most of municipalities outside  (Whitehorse) in BC do this with similar parks there.”

A year ago, organizers recruited the skills of Jay Hoots, owner of the BC-based company Hoots Inc., a mountain bike clothing and safety equipment manufacturer.

Hoots, a mountain bike coach and professional rider, has built over 24 community skills parks and is a member of such organizations as the North Shore Mountain Bike Association and the International Mountain Bicycling Association.

Under the guidance of Hoots, the skills park will be built to International Mountain Bicycling Association standards.

“(The facilities) will be built to what is called the Whistler standards,” said Stevely, referring to the level of quality the BC resort offers in its skills park.

“It’s kind of a de facto standard for bike parks that’s not formalized right now, but Jay Hoots is one of the people working on formalizing standards specifically around bike parks.

“We want to get away from the Ewok village thing you see constructed out on some of the trails with, you know, ratty old fallen-down trees.”

The Mt. McIntyre skills park will feature two sections of stunts. There will be an area of dirt ramps, arranged in a “progressive” fashion from small to large.

“(In) the dirt jump section, the jumps will all be tabletops, there won’t be gaps, for safety considerations,” said Stevely. “So if you want, you can just roll over the jumps and you’re not going to fall into a gap.”

The other section will be a skills area with wooden structures, or “stunts,” such as skinnies, log-rides, rock gardens, drops, a wall-ride and a pump-truck section.

“The idea is to have a variety of stunts and skills and jumps,” said Stevely. “And all of them will be progressive, so you can build your skills when you ride there.”

Although many details remain up in the air, Stevely is extremely optimistic that the plans will be seen through.

“We should be hearing what’s going to happen in short-order,” said Stevely.

“The city supports it, the territory supports it, everybody is behind it. You can never say never, but it would be very unlikely that the land wouldn’t go through.”

Constructing such sophisticated skills park within International Mountain Bicycling Association standards comes with a hefty price tag, but according to Stevely, community support will help lighten the tab.

“If we weren’t looking at any inkind stuff, we’d probably be in the $80,000 range,” said Stevely. “But we’ve had a lot of local businesses saying that they’ll be happy to donate equipment, time, some materials and some labour and whatnot.

“Plus we have a large labor force in the youth that are interested in this.”

The date of when construction is to begin has not been set, but Stevely is hoping to get at least some work down before winter sets in.

“We’re just waiting for the land transfer from the Yukon territory government to the city,” said Stevely. “We’re hoping to hear about that fairly shortly.

“Obviously, at this time of year, we probably won’t get to much construction done,” added Stevely. “But if we can get a small start on things before the snow flies, we will. Otherwise we’ll be hard at it in the spring.”

In order to avoid stepping on any toes, organizers of the skills park worked with the cross-country ski community, which uses the Mt. McIntyre area, when planning the facility.

“We’re not going to encroach on any of their trails, and they’re fully supportive of us doing this,” said Stevely. “The kids who ski can play on some of these stunts in the winter, just to have fun.”

The Contagious Mountain Bike Club is holding its first annual general meeting October 2 at 7 p.m. in the Sport Yukon building. The club welcomes everyone who’s interested in joining.

To learn more, visit their website at cmbc.wordpress.com or contact Mike Stevely at mikexx00@hotmail.com or Devon McDiarmid at devmcd@yahoo.com.

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