Mitch Horne is transforming an acre and a half of Shelbyville’s Forest Park into a state-of-the-art park for mountain bike training.
The design is in his head.
“We started last Tuesday and hopefully we will be done by this weekend,” Horne said Monday. “We may be laying asphalt this Thursday.”
Horne, who works for Tom Ritz Designs and Pump Trax USA out of Cleveland, explained that they figured out a design. They looked at the spot between the men’s softball diamond (the old little league diamond) and the pavilion at the entrance to the General Dacey Trail, an undesignated grassy area between the Dacey Trail and the road that leads to the ball diamond.
“We had an overhead shot of the area, but you can’t tell elevation very well. So we came out and looked it over,” Horne said. “We came up with a basic design, but to draw up specific plans starts at about $5,000. I know the design and this is all we do, so.”
So, like a kid in a sandbox, he lays it out according to what’s in his head. That formerly grassy area is a long area that has a downhill slope along one side. It’s not very level.
“The first thing I did was cut into the ground a little along the top and then level it out,” Horne said.
Horne is moving around load after load of DOT rock to lay a base of dips and runs and flows for a bike park, not only for older youth and adults, but a separate and less challenging area for younger kids.
The Pump Track is an area designated and built for bike riders of all ages to develop skills riding off road. There is an off road bike trail at Lake Shelbyville and an annual Mountain Bike Festival at the lake that take place this weekend.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is partnering with the Lake Volunteers Association, Central Illinois Mountain Bike Association, General Dacey Trail Mountain Bike Club, and Bike and Hike Effingham to host the 2nd Annual DirtWorx MTB Fest on September 13-15.
Horne works every day and then knocks off in the evening. It is an attractive temptation to kids to get out there and ride on, even as it is being constructed.
“Yeah, they’ve been out here riding on it already,” Horne said. “You can see the tracks. They can’t hurt it and it’s for the kids.”
Although designed for mountain bikes, the bike park is multi-purpose track that can be used for bikes, skateboards, etc.
Jerry Yockey, Chairman of the General Dacey Trail, presented the proposal for the pump track to the Shelbyville City Council earlier this summer and had testimonials from Phil Manhart of the Corps of Engineers and Scott Enkoff. Shelbyville City Park Commissioner Mark Shanks was also a proponent.
“I don’t know if Mitch told you his background,” Yockey said. “Pump Trax USA have built the last three Olympic BMX tracks. We are very excited to bring in a company with that resume to help build our bike park.”
Yockey explained that there is 4 parts to the bike track. There is a Tot Track by the shelter.
“It is designed for the youngest of riders learning to ride,” Yockey said. “There will be gentle rollers that are fun an safe for parents and grandparents to bring the kids out and get used to riding.”
Yockey said then of course is the pump track area for older riders.
“There will be a Flow Trail were you can build up momentum, speed,” Yockey said. “Then there will be a skills area that will be installed next spring. It will have man-made skill features.
He said the concept is for a progressive bike park.
“No matter what your skill level, there will be an easy line to ride, then more difficult lines to ride,” Yockey said. “You can go from the pump track to the flow trail to the skills line and ultimately helps the riders to improve handling skills. That leads them naturally out to the bike trails we have and even there go to another level.”
The city voted unanimously to give the letter of support for the project. The talk then turned to the amount of monetary support.
Yockey said that the cost could be around $185,000, with the Trail Committee giving $100,000, the Corps giving 20% ($37,000) and the city could give 20% ($37,000). He said the cost would depend on the number of fabricated elements to the track.
Horne said that the wooden elements on the pump track would be nearer the General Dacey Trail, and prepare them for the kind of terrain that mountain bikers may encounter out on Lake Shelbyville bike trails. The idea is for the riders to practice at the park and be trained to ride safely and more enjoyably around Lake Shelbyville.