A short jaunt uphill along 102nd Avenue in the Albion area will take you to a mountain bike park that is sure to be well used in the coming weeks, months, and years.
The Albion Mountain Bike Skills Park at 24539 102 Ave. is still under construction but is already being ridden on by mountain bike enthusiasts, from toddlers to adults.
The park, which encompasses under an acre of land and has a price tag of roughly $40,000 of municipal funds, has been in process for more than five years, according to Sylvia Pendl, park planning technician with Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows Parks and Leisure Services.
A few years ago Barry Lyster from Local Ride Bike Shop led a group that had tried to kick start the project, but was unable to proceed, Pendl said.
Later, Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association member Stan Hunter approached the municipality about the possibility of creating the park.
"A lot of people have been asking us about this so we had a tiny bit of funding," Pendl said. "These parks are a bit different from what people are used to [when they] think about mountain biking. They're not just kids out on a trail with shovels. There is a large, earth-moving endeavour. We needed some money to get some dirt and move this dirt around."
Pendl said there is a very strong mountain biking community in the Maple Ridge and Pitt Meadows area.
"Maple Ridge is a [mountain biking] destination," she said. "People come here for mountain biking. The trails and the landscape are beautiful here."
That said, the park is designed for locals. "You can ride there, you can walk there," Pendl said.
Cory Derpak, owner of ESP Parks, helped design and build the course, which consists of dirt jumps, berms, rollers, a multi-use roll in, and graduated drops.
"He [Derpak] and I worked collaboratively with Stan [Hunter] as to what was going to be built," Pendl said. "I had a rough plan and they sort of took it from there."
Derpak, a former professional mountain bike rider who builds mountain bike parks in the greater Vancouver area, said this newest addition to the Albion area is different than other parks he has designed.
"We designed it to fit the lay of the land really well," Derpak said. "It's less linear than the traditional mountain bike park, with more flow and functionality in mind."
Derpak gave the park a test run himself. "Everything I build, I ride," he said. "It's amazing. Everything flows super well, it's got really good drainage and the features are just perfect for the lay of the land."
While the course is ride-able "it's not done by any means," Pendl said.
"There are wooden features that we need to finish, and planting," she said. "This part is now when the volunteers take over, and they will finish the rest."
Construction is ongoing. "Because it's going to be volunteer-driven, the rest of it is going to be up to the volunteers," Pendl said. "I imagine they'll be working on things over winter. We're hoping it will be substantially complete by spring."
Pendl said the public response to the new addition to the Albion area has been "pretty positive."
"I've been going down to the park and seeing how the kids are using it, just so that helps
us in terms of any changes that we might need to make," she said.
Pendl even saw a four-year-old rider navigate a section of the course.
"That's the great thing about this park," she said. "We've designed it with the intent that it is going to be an all-ages and there are a lot of areas where moms can stand and watch their kids."
The park's features are progressive, from easy to difficult.
But there are inherent risks that comes with a sport such as mountain biking.
"I think you take a risk when you participate in those kinds of sports, but we do recommend that people wear hopefully a full face helmet and body armour," Pendl said. "There are all sorts of ways you can protect yourself."
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