Feature Story                                                                                                           


Monday, April 29, 2013                      



Throwin' it Down at Island 22

Bike Skills Park brings in the big wheels

Staff/Voice photos


A pro rider demos big air off the sand jump last weekend at the new skills park in Chilliwack. Below riders are united in a tangled heap of bikes.


A kid launches off the big ramp like a scud missile and slams face-first into the mound of sand with his BMX bike on top of him. It wouldn't matter if both knees and elbows were scraped and bleeding; the kid still would have come up smiling. That's what kind of a day it was at the opening of the new Island 22 Bike Skills Park.


Chilliwack Mayor and Fraser Valley Regional District (FVRD) Board Chair Sharon Gaetz was accompanied by dignitaries and staff at the cityís newest park addition last weekend for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.


"I want to acknowledge the people from the city of Chilliwack, first of all, that put $200,000 into making this happen and your moms and dads that pay taxes in the city of Chilliwack who paid for this for you," Gaetz said prior to cutting the ribbon.


"Jay Hoots involved all of the riders in the riding community in planning it, and that's been the secret in its success of putting this bike park together," she added.


There was so much rain the night before the opening Saturday that crews were drying the dirt runs with propane torches even as riders lined-up for their first runs.


But don't expect this kind of treatment every time it rains. In fact, if it is raining, or in the high-water of freshet season, Hoots says they donít really want people using it at least until the trails have had a chance to dry for about a day.


The trails at the idyllic riverside park are designed for all levels of riders from kids whose bikes have never left the pavement all the way up to the pros.


Jay Hoots, who's company Hoots Inc. designed and built the park, engineered the tracks to be progressive.


Chilliwack Mayor Sharon Gaetz and park designer/builder Jay Hoots cut the ribbon Saturday.


"We've gone out of our way to try to make sure that we can have the progressions in here," Hoots told an excited pack of kids and dignitaries. "Things like the fan jump, the trick jump, that doesn't exist in any municipal park. You guys are the first to be able to have that."


Normally, the kids start out on the green diamond trails, then work their way up to the bigger jumps marked with single and more daunting double black diamonds.


The advanced riders can practice their tricks on the ultimate showcase jump run where bike and rider are hurled off a ramp 10-15 feet in the air before landing in sand.


The big jump was placed alongside the road so bikers can showcase their jumps to passing vehicles.


Construction of the park began in February 2012, but was delayed due to high water from the freshet. A City Hall report last week indicated that they donít expect to see the same levels this year.


Hoots had lots of feedback from local riders which helped in the planning stages.


"This has been a long time coming. I've been involved in this on a secret level for about 5-6 years, to try to get as many ears as I could to listen to what a good idea might be for a new jump park, and new things for kids to do."


According to Hoots, they had an arborists help with the design of the forested areas. The cottonwoods on the property were harvested and sold to the mill and the money was returned to the project. Even the clay-based dirt from the pseudo jump site that kids constructed across town was used in the jumps there.


The park is peppered with signage indicating Helmets are mandatory. There will always be some inherent risk of injury when kids participate in sports like this, but helmets reduce the chances of having a more serious injury.



There is wood being stored on the site for use if a decision is made later to expand the park and the FVRD donít want the kids building, or adding to the existing structures in the park.


"If you need something, or you think there should be a certain kind of jump down here, you know maybe it's smaller, maybe it's bigger, then Facebook me or e-mail me and let me know and I'll let the regional district know and we'll see what we can do," Hoots said. "If I had to build a park in my own back yard, this would be it".


Throughout the summer and fall, drivers should take extra care to watch for more kids riding bicycles to and from the park on Young Rd. and Cartmell Rd.


Special thanks go to: Carolyn Marleau Manager of Leisure Development and Gord Pederson Director of Parks and Recreation from the City of Chilliwack. City councillors Ken Huttema, Chuck Stam along with FVRD dignitaries Troy Jones, CAO Paul Gipps, Suzanne Gresham, Megan Stewart, Dave Dreiger, Reece Walters, Jillian Berger, Gord Gadsden and FVRD Director Area D Bill Dickie were all on hand for the opening ceremony.


Related Links 



FVRD Bike Skills Park page.

February 2, 2012 story here.
March 23, 2012 story

August 20, 2012 story here.



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