Like bees to honey, the new Shelbyville Bike Park is drawing kids of all ages for skills training and just plain fun.
“It is a phenomenal success,” Shelbyville City Park Commissioner Mark Shanks said. “Kids are loving it. I go by everyday and am amazed at how many kids are on it. There is always 20 kids or more.
“I get comments from parents that their kids are not on cell phones or home playing video games. And moms and dads are sitting out here watching their kids ride. The Tot Track has tons of kids on it with beaming smiles. It’s overwhelming. People are stopping me at the restaurant and saying, ‘we didn’t know what a pump track was, but now we’re sure glad we have it.’”
In just over two weeks, a dormant, somewhat non-level, grass area of Forest Park, adjacent to the General Dacey Trail, was transformed into a state of the art bike park that draws not only local kids, but people from all over the Central Illinois Area for cutting edge skills training on a bike and just for fun.
People have already come from Stewardson, Bethany, Neoga, Decatur, Taylorville, Tuscola, and north of Springfield.
“A BMX rider, who said he was ranked 3rd in the nation, came to town especially for the pump track and he said he loved it,” Shanks said.
Mitch Horne, who works for Tom Ritz and Pump Trax USA, started moving dirt with a bobcat on Sept. 3. On Sept. 18, the pump track, asphalt complete, held its grand opening.
“I would estimate about 100 people gathered for the grand opening,” said Jerry Yockey, Chairman of the General Dacey Trail. “The asphalt was poured the morning of the 18th. But, kids had been riding on the track since it was just mounds of rocks. It’s been a huge success in terms of how many kids are riding and in community support, because of their appreciation for another fun outdoor activity for the kids. Its fun to watch kids age 4 to 16 all getting along, older ones helping younger ones and trading bikes.”
Since before its opening the track was being explored by kids with their bikes. After school that day they watched the completion and waited for the grand opening.
Yockey explained that the goal was to build a progressive bike park. They have a Tot Track at one end for the youngest of riders. They have the pump track, a track that doesn’t even require a rider to pedal and yet maneuver.
“The pump track is more challenging and fun for riders,” Yockey said. “And there is a flow track for the most skilled riders. Plans in the spring are to install another section of track with man-made features that takes the skill level higher and prepares riders to take on the mountain bike trails.”
Those trails are just a few hundred yards away off the Dacey Trail and are used by the annual DirtWorx Bike Fest.
The Shelbyville pump track is designed by Pump Trax USA out of Cleveland, Ohio that has built three Olympic BMX tracks. Tyler Truman, a professional BMX rider came in to town just for the grand opening.
The Shelbyville Bike Park is a gift to Shelbyville and the area from the General Dacey Trail. The cost for the park was $185,000. The US Army Corps of Engineers kicked in 20% and support from the city was also just 20%, $37,000, for an activity that’s cost after being built is minimal. It doesn’t charge admission and has little upkeep.
“One kid that was using the park was talking to his mom said, ‘Mom, all this and it’s free!’”
Kids can come out anytime and ride any kind of bike, skateboards, scooters or skates for free. Shanks is overwhelmed
Yockey and Shanks both remarked how helmets and knee and elbow pads are encouraged. Shelbyville Walmart and Monical’s Pizza Restaurant donated helmets for the track. There is a helmet tree at the bike park, so if kids need a helmet they can grab one to ride.
“We’ll continue to replace the helmets as we need to,” Shanks said. “Take one if you need it.”
The bike park will be maintained with seasonal seal coating, but it is low maintenance.
“The company that built our track built one in Ohio and after five years it still hasn’t needed any work done on it for upkeep,” Yockey said.
Yockey said that they are wanting to work with the school system to have them come out for educational events at the bike park.