Originally Published: April 19, 2012 9:55 p.m.
PRESCOTT - For the young bicyclists who gravitated to Granite Creek Park this week, completion of the new pump track obviously cannot happen soon enough.
About a dozen riders - mostly from Prescott Mile High Middle School - gathered at the park Wednesday afternoon to help pack the dirt for the "rollers" or contours that will be an integral part of the track.
Word had spread quickly among the sixth- and seventh-graders who headed out after school on their bikes.
"I like to ride BMX and ride dirt jumps," said Dylan Lundmark. "When I found out this was being built, I came to volunteer."
Added seventh-grader Eli Drever: "All of the mountain bikers are talking about it too."
Until now, the young cyclists had used the skate park at Ken Lindley Field to practice their technique. But they say the pump track will be a better fit.
"We're a minority there," Drever said of the skate park. "Skaters get in the way all the time."
And besides, he said, "It's funner to drift on dirt."
The young riders were a key component in the plans for the pump track, which got Prescott City Council approval in late March.
Track designer Ryan Finney from Menlo Park, Calif., has been on hand at the site for much of the past week. He is working with volunteers from the Prescott Mountain Bike Alliance (PMBA) and the community to build the 80-foot-by-120-foot track in the southwest corner of Granite Creek Park, near Montezuma Street and the Depot Marketplace.
PMBA pushed for the track to provide a spot for cyclists of all ages to practice their skills in a controlled area. The idea, PMBA members say, is for riders to navigate the course by pumping their bikes over the hills and berms without pedaling.
By Wednesday afternoon, Finney and volunteers had completed much of the perimeter, which features a number of sloped berms and about 16 rollers or gradual bumps.
"I wanted to make the perimeter as easy as possible," Finney said, as he worked to pack the dirt on the track. The middle section, which was under way on Thursday and Friday, will include tighter turns, and will be more challenging.
With the help of the riders who were circling around and around the track Wednesday, the dirt will become densely packed.
By Saturday, the track should be complete to the point where more riders will be needed to help pack the dirt, said city Trails Specialist Chris Hosking, who took vacation from his job this week to help construct the track.
The goal is to have the track completely done by April 27 for the kickoff of the annual Whiskey Off-Road mountain bike race (April 27 to 29). Organizers hope to showcase the new pump track in the race's children's event.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, April 26, PMBA plans to conduct a fundraising spaghetti dinner at the site, starting at 6 p.m., to unveil the new track. The cost is $10 per plate, said PMBA treasurer Brooke Weitkunat. The proceeds from the event will go toward the cost of building the track.
Weitkunat pointed out that the project so far has received more than $8,000 in contributions from the community. About $2,000 of the total came from PMBA, and another $1,000 came through a grant from Fox Shox. A PMBA member matched the grant for another $1,000.
In addition, the Prescott Alternative Transportation group is contributing a round-rail fence to circle the track. Weitkunat estimated the value of that at about $3,000.
The effort also has received contributions and/or assistance from a number of other groups and businesses, including the Open Space Alliance, Yavapai Trails Association, Spring Hill Suites, Arizona Public Service, and Asphalt Paving & Supply.
While the city provided the space for the track, its agreement with PMBA makes the organization responsible to build, pay for, and maintain the track.