Mountain bike club ‘ramps’ up park development

After about five years of talk and planning, Whitehorse will soon be the first in the territory to have a professionally designed and developed bike-skills park.

After about five years of talk and planning, Whitehorse will soon be the first in the territory to have a professionally designed and developed bike-skills park.

There’s still much to do, with no name chosen and wooden structures yet to be built, but BMX and mountain bike riders may be enjoying the new facilities as soon as this week.

“You might see things that look similar in the woods, but that’s not supposed to be there,” said Devon McDiarmid, president of Whitehorse’s Contagious Mountain Bike Club. “That’s why we built this, to try and eliminate the illegal building in the woods. To give kids and adults somewhere to go that’s safe, properly designed and they don’t have to worry about building their own stuff.”

Construction on the park, located on Mount McIntyre off Sumanik Drive, began last week with the arrival of Jay Hoots, owner of the BC-based company Hoots Inc., a mountain-bike clothing and safety equipment manufacturer that has designed more than 30 skills parks throughout BC, as well as in Alberta and the US.

Although his arrival is recent, finalized plans for the park were developed almost a year ago in conjunction with the Contagious Club.

“What’s on the ground is awfully close to what we had in the design,” said Hoots.

“It actually turned out to be better!”

As you pull up to the skills park, it may look a little intimidating, but despite an usually steep incline under much of the ramps, the park offers something for riders of all levels, said Hoots.

“This grade is pretty steep; it’s about the limit to what I would normally build on,” he said. “What we started at is one, one-and-a-half foot high jumps and then we have two-and-a-half foot, four-foot and five-foot jumps.

“The hill itself has been adjusted to give you the exact speed you need to be able to do the jumps. When you show up, you don’t have to be afraid that you don’t know anything about jumping; this place really holds your hand through it.

“With the beginner jumps, the platform for the jump only allows you to go so far up, so you can only go so fast getting into the jump—you can’t get into too much trouble. To get the speed for the big jumps you have to go through the trees and take the tree-line to get into them.”

Normally a project of this size could come with a price tag in the area of $150,000 to $200,000, but about 80 per cent of costs have been eliminated through volunteer hours, plus material and excavation tools donated by local businesses, said Hoots and McDiarmid.

“This wouldn’t have happened without the support of the city’s Park and Recreation Department—they were huge—Icycle Sports and the people who have donated the machines, the dirt, the volunteer time and things like that,” said McDiarmid.

“It’s very much a community effort.”

To save costs, energy and time the builders have used as many of the natural features in the area as possible in constructing the roughly two-hectare park.

“We try to use as much of the natural surroundings, so like rock features, hills that already exist—we don’t want to go build a hill if there’s already one there,” said McDiarmid. “Another thing about this location is that it was already clear, so we weren’t knocking trees down. We’re just using what’s already other there.”

It goes without saying that the original goal for constructing the skills park was to give riders a place to bike, but McDiarmid hopes that’s just the beginning.

“We would like to build a booklet on experience and what we did to make this happen,” said McDiarmid. “(We’ll) give it to Watson Lake, Dawson City and places like that if they’re interested in building a park. It’ll be like a guide.

“If they do absorb the park idea, we can start having inter-community competitions.”

To find out more about the park, or to enter a name for the upcoming park-naming contest, visit

Contact Tom Patrick at