A Complex Trio

About 18 months ago, the city of Fresno Parks, After School, Recreation & Community Services Department (PARCS) embarked on a mission to create a bike complex at one of its most beloved regional areas–Woodward Park. With the right combination of available open space, BMX enthusiasts hungry for a place to ride and a director with a distinct vision to create action sports destinations, Fresno had just the formula necessary to make it happen.

Bike enthusiasts are welcome at this Fresno park.

Many cyclists in Fresno have traveled some distance to find a unique setting to race and train. While the city recognized a need for a place that could serve local bicycle motocross (BMX) riders, mountain-bike trials riders and BMX trials riders, PARCS wanted to create a venue that would attract state and national events, help drive tourism and the local economy, and provide local action sports athletes a place to enjoy their hobbies in a controlled environment. The PARCS staff envisioned a destination that could host televised events and bring national acclaim to the sixth largest city in California.

PARCS soon designed a complex with three distinct pieces–a BMX track, a mountain-bike progression park and a BMX dirt jump park, or “free ride” area–to serve all local cycling enthusiasts. While heavy on potential, the project needed funding and a maintenance program to keep it alive. PARCS sought and won council approval to utilize its impact fees to support the project. The fees are collected from developers to support the city’s parks system. City council also recently approved a $32.6 million impact-fee bond to allow the department to embark on the largest park development and expansion plan in its history, to jump-start 27 capital improvements projects, including the estimated half-million dollar Woodward Bike Complex.

Before construction began, PARCS had to complete and submit a conditional-use permit for the development of the bike complex. Included in the permit was an environmental impact study where surveyors were sent to study the 57-acre site to make sure the development was not going to be detrimental to the environment, or cause harm or destruction to natural habitats. When the study was completed, permission was granted to move forward with the project.

Mountain Bike Skills Progression Park

PARCS sought the expert services of HILRIDE–a progression development group with a vision for creating biking destinations–to design, plan, and oversee the construction of the Mountain Bike Progression Park. Much to the department’s satisfaction, HILRIDE designed the most progressive mountain-bike park in California. The 10-acre park provides progression-based riding opportunities for beginner-, intermediate- and expert-level riders. The park includes a downhill trail with 40 progressive table-top jumps in a row, a cross-country “single track” time trial course, a “North and South Shore” elevated progression trail over one-quarter mile in length (the longest on the West Coast), an observed trials rock garden and a pump track.

Community support was invaluable during construction, as more than 1,800 hours of volunteer time were contributed to the course, which saved the city over $35,000 in labor costs. The volunteers also spend time at the track and share knowledge of proper riding etiquette to those new to trail riding. Their presence has helped establish a safer environment, and allows riders of all skill levels the opportunity to venture onto the track.

BMX Race Track

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