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Bike park about to spring to life

Group ready to break ground in Penn Valley

 Andrew Wedgbury

Nevada City Advocate 

After years of planning, the dream of having a professionally built bike park in Penn Valley is close to becoming a reality for a team of enthusiasts headed by Richard Baker, John ‘Moss’ Quaglia and Lisa McCandless. 

The Nevada County Planning Commission has approved plans for the Gateway Bike Park to be built at Penn Valley’s Western Gateway Park. Construction is scheduled to be rolling by the end of the year.

The genesis for the new park started after Baker of Siteline Architecture in Nevada City went with his son to the bike park in Truckee about 2 ½ years ago. 

“We enjoyed it so much. We went up there numerous times in the course of that year,” he said. “While up there, I was so taken by what a great community asset that was and thought that idea was something we should have down here. I came back with the goal of getting in contact with people who would be interested in getting that built.”

Baker noted that the Truckee community bike park appeals to a variety of ages and abilities – from children on Strider bikes without pedals, all the way to more experienced riders looking for challenging jumps and trails. 

“There was a 65-year-old woman on a brand-new jump bike that she had just purchased, with all the safety gear, with her grandchild at the park. And you had lots of people sitting around having picnic lunches, watching the kids ride bikes. It’s a great environment for getting exercise, but also building community. I felt it would be a great resource for this place.”

Baker and his team have been working through the planning process for about two years, utilizing resources such as the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA), Bicyclists of Nevada County (BONC), the Rotary Club, Nevada County staff, the Western Gateway Park and Recreation District, and other interested parties who were determined to see the idea become a reality. He reiterated that to get to this stage in development really took a team effort and credits the hard work done by Quaglia and McCandless over the years.

“Moss and I got together early on, and he had already identified this location generally, and had done preliminary discussions with the park Board,” Baker said.

Moss, he added, was instrumental in the early phases of the project, and McCandless. was very helpful, both because she is a bicyclist and also because she works for a consulting engineering firm. 

“When we were asked to do a biological report for the project, she was able to help us out with that, and she’s also very good with all the other applications.

“We worked with IMBA to come up with the initial study of the location to determine if the various bike park elements that we wanted to have included would work there” Baker said. “Once that was completed we worked with Nevada City Engineering to map the area and develop a document that would let us apply for a revision to the master plan of Western Gateway Park.”

The initial application came back with several revisions, mostly due to the proximity of the elements to neighboring parcels. But after meeting with district officials and hammering out details, revisions were made to address concerns. 

“We had our Planning Commission meeting about a month and a half ago and gained their approval at that meeting,” he said.

Building the park, to be directed by Mountain Trail Concepts and BONC, will take time, volunteers and money. The site is about 4-5 acres of undulating terrain and will include trails, dirt jumps, a pump track, a kid’s pump park, all integrated with attention to preserving existing oak groves and foliage. 

“Our goal is really to fit it in with the existing vegetation and topography, without bringing in a lot of soil or moving a lot of soil on the site,” Baker said. “Creating the bumps and jumps and berms within the topography and fitting it in under the canopy of existing vegetation that is there.”

Fundraising for the project has been ongoing, with many donations coming in through gatewaybikepark.com, as well as donations of services. 

“My personal goal was to gain approval and then help raise the money,” Baker said. “The next step is to build the thing, and that’s not my specialty. Our goal is to raise about $125,000 to build the elements of the track and also have some money in an account to be used to maintain the track. To date, I’ve raised about $35,000, so we’re on track to making our goal.” 

Donations received for the park will be processed by BONC and are fully tax deductible.

Construction on the new park is in preliminary stages with fire access roads and upgrades to parking areas being required before the park can open. Baker predicted that work would start this month, and would include ADA-compliant parking, areas for people with disabilities to watch the bicyclists, a drinking fountain, and an area where people can work on their bikes. 

“Once those are in place, we’ll build the very first element of the park, which will be the strider track and the pump track. We hope to get that built in September,” Baker said.

Although it has taken years to accomplish, the Gateway Bike Park will become a reality by the end of the year and should have elements to ride by no later than the early part of 2019. For bicycle enthusiasts of all ages, it not only will provide an opportunity to get out and ride on a professionally designed bike park, but to enjoy some family time in a beautiful location.

Richard Baker