Event includes raffle and bike-related prizes as park is finally opened to the public

JASON CHANEY - This saddle jump over a Western wagon was included to celebrate Prineville's pioneer roots.

Construction on the Prineville Bike Park has been hard to miss the past couple months.

Large, rolling dirt mounds and wavy wooden platforms could be found near heavy construction machinery and more recently, the installation of sod has added a splash of green to the west end of the facility.

This Saturday, the construction finally concludes. For the first time, the public will be invited to visit the new park and test out its bike jumps and skills-testing features. A ribbon cutting and grand opening will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and feature raffles and bike-related prizes.

The idea for the bike park originated when a group of young Prineville BMX riders attended a Central Oregon Trail Alliance meeting and pleaded for a new place to hone their bike skills. They caught the attention of Darlene Henderson, a member of COTA’s Prineville chapter, who later proposed the idea of the park to multiple local entities including the City of Prineville and the Crook County Parks and Recreation District.

Henderson credits those two organizations with helping make the bike park a reality.

The City of Prineville owns the property the bike park now occupies as part of an easement for railroad track that used to pass by the area. City leaders and members of the City of Prineville Railway staff and City Railroad Commission agreed to lease the land on a long term basis to the Crook County Parks and Recreation District. The district, in turn, is allowing COTA to utilize the land for the bike park.

Having secured a location, COTA worked to raise the approximately $100,000 needed to build the facility. Henderson said the project has received generous donations from Rotary Club of Crook County, Oregon Community Fund, Ford Family Foundation, SMAF Construction and REI as well as volunteer and cash donations from COTA members.

The park will offer a variety of features that bike riders of all skill levels can enjoy. A beginner and intermediate jump line, featuring rolling dirt hills, can be accessed from ground level, while the advanced and expert jump lines are accessed from a wood platform atop a start mound.

“We have one pump track and there is the strider track for the little bikes. It is a mini pump track,” Henderson said. “Then we have different skills loops.”

One loop includes a switchbacks section while another will offer rock features similar to what one might encounter on a mountain biking trail. Elsewhere in the park, people can try out the saddle jump, a rolling, wooden ramp that crosses over a decorative Western wagon.

“It basically has everything that we envisioned,” Henderson said of the park, adding that there is always an opportunity over time to adjust and tweak the features. “But we are not expecting or planning to do that in the near future.”

The park will remain open after the grand opening concludes except during rainy and snowy weather and after dark, since there is no lighting. People are welcome to come and go as they please, but they will be asked to wear a helmet, follow posted park rules and ride at their own risk.

“I think it goes without saying that the advanced jump line requires a certain amount of skill,” Henderson remarked.

Having finally reached the finish line, those involved with the bike park look forward to finally unveiling the new facility and providing a new recreational option for the community.

“It has been a journey,” Henderson said, “a three-year journey.”

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