Monday, December 15, 2014

More Thoughts On The Bike Park

I have done some additional reconnaissance since last Thursday, when I wrote about the potential for a permanent bike park at West Bend’s Park Site O. I also received some suggestions from interested cyclists, one of the most intriguing of which was to include the woods when designing the cyclocross course. My original draft of the cyclocross course looked a lot like Badger Prairie, but a short dash through the woods would make the course look a lot like Cam-Rock. I think that’s a good thing.

Imagine the start/finish near the parking lot and a counter-clockwise rotation. The blue dot represents the likely location of a double-entry pit area for some future race. It comes at about 0.4 miles and 0.9 miles of each lap. In the woods, by avoiding the conifers and staying among the deciduous trees we easily could maintain a 10-foot-wide corridor for the course. Much of this course hugs the perimeter of the prairie, making the job of grass cutting as easy as possible. Parts of the course that traverse the interior of the prairie would require more careful mowing. At the end of the lap the course makes several trips up and down the hill. For cyclocross, Park Site O would be a challenging venue.

But as a venue for mountain biking, I would like to see Park Site O develop in a beginner-friendly way. Think of it as an alternative to Glacial Blue Hills, which is an intimidating place for newbies. At Park Site O, the quarter mile of cyclocross course that passes through the woods could be the backbone of the mountain bike trails: a gentle introductory trail to which we could attach a couple of more challenging, singletrack loops.

In the map below, I have tried to show the property boundary (red) and the location of Quaas Creek (blue).

I think the woods to the north are off-limits and that’s a shame because trail-building would be easy work there. The southwestern third of the property would be an easy place to build too … once you reached it. At least one bridge over Quaas Creek would be needed and I don’t know where it would be best situated. There are wetlands and other areas of heavy vegetation along the creek. The northwestern section of the property would be difficult to develop, but not impossible. I think we could get about half a mile of mountain bike trails out of Park Site O before we had to bridge the creek, and maybe 2 miles overall. You could weave around every tree just for the sake of making the trail longer, but on very non-technical terrain that would be silly. And once it’s built, it needs to be maintained, so let’s keep it simple.

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