Ride on! — Penn Valley community to welcome new bike skills park | TheUnion.com

Ride on! — Penn Valley community to welcome new bike skills park

Mina Ricci
Special to The Union

Biking brings people together from all walks of life.

All skill levels and ages — weekend warriors and racers to youngsters and family casual riders — have the ability to enjoy various forms of riding. And Nevada County has miles of scenic mountain trails and roads to explore year round.

There is truly something for every type of rider — except a local bike skills park.

A local skills park — where riders can safely improve their riding and connect with other riders — is absolutely paramount at fostering local confident riders who learn to respect the inclusivity of the sport and its connection with nature. A bike park allows riders to practice their skills on technical features and jumps.

Currently the only bike parks in the area are Truckee Bike Park, an hour east of Nevada City, and Stafford Lake Bike Park, 2.5 hours southwest.

Filling the need

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Inspired to fill this void, Nevada County residents Lisa McCandless, Richard Baker and John "Moss" Quaglia have joined forces to create this much needed bike skills park, to be located in Western Gateway Park in Penn Valley.

"It is such a friendly and educating environment," said Quaglia (of their inspiration-Truckee Bike Park). "Western Nevada County needed its own healthy, community minded skills park."

Located in Penn Valley near the dog park, Western Gateway Park has offered dedicated space for the bike park through the oak woodland forest. When completed, the bike park will have several multi-level pump tracks and jump lines, a dual slalom course, mountain bike skills zone, a single track flow zone, and a mountain bike trail that encircles the entirety of the Western Gateway Park.

The park will be unique in that it encompasses local oak woodland forests and provides a scenic atmosphere for riders or all ages and abilities, unlike the typical bike park that has developed barren land.

"The bike park will make it (Western Gateway Park) even better and even give female riders the opportunity to try new things that aren't currently available in Western Nevada County," said McCandless.

The three close friends have brought their talents and strengths to this three-year-old ongoing project. McCandless, a professional planner who specializes in trails and recreational projects, has spearheaded the bike park planning and Nevada County approval process, including environmental impact and noise impact studies.

Baker, with his strong vision for this park, has been integral with local connections and is leading the park's infrastructure improvements such as ADA parking and road widening.

Quaglia's focus is primarily designing and building park features and facilitating conceptual designs and construction quotes provided by the International Mountain Bike Association.

The work has only just begun

The undertaking for this bike park is entirely new to the county planning department and McCandless, Baker and Quaglia have structured their venture as a business. The core group has created budgets and fundraising efforts, fostered local business and community member support, identified key volunteer and continual support roles. This is a self funded project, created with passion and a drive to support local riders.

Together, local donations from community members and businesses have facilitated early construction. The first stages of the park — including a basic pump track and jump line — are underway and the park is slated for a soft opening in early 2019.

But despite all of this good news, the hard work has only just begun. Paths need to be paved, trails built — and of course, the ever present subject of funding must be raised.

To date, the International Mountain Bike Association, Bicyclists of Nevada County, Youth Bicyclists of Nevada County, Penn Valley Rotary Club, and a number of local individuals have donated time and funds towards the park's development. The park will soon be open to the public for weekend work days, and Baker urges the community to help in any way they can, be it with a donation or trail building. McCandless will also be leading the online funding campaign starting in September.

BONC, YBONC, and the Nevada County Parks and Recreation will also support continued maintenance of the park when opened.

To help support the Western Gateway Bike Park, email gatewaybikepark@gmail.com or visit https://www.facebook.com/gatewaybikepark/ or BONC's Facebook page for updates regarding the park's progression and local trail building and work days. Donations are gladly accepted at http://www.gatewaybikepark.com.

Mina Ricci is a freelance writer who contributes to The Union.

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