Ready to shred
New pump track for mountain bikers set for grand opening at Wildwood Park
Kyle Warner makes laps around Chico’s new pump track look as easy as, well, riding a bike. He hardly pedals, maintaining momentum throughout the dirt circuit with a pumping motion that transfers his weight around banked turns and over rollers.
Warner should be so smooth. The Chico native is a professional mountain bike racer fresh off winning the North American Enduro Tour for the second year in a row. Even so, there’s sweat on his brow after several runs through the course, and he’s a little short of breath when he pauses on a berm. “That’s a workout,” he says, leaning over his handlebars.
Set for its grand opening on Saturday, Oct. 10, the pump track is positioned in the northernmost corner of Wildwood Park, at the doorstep of Upper Bidwell Park and its vast system of trails. Warner envisions it as a hub for the mountain bike community—a place for friends to meet for a day’s ride, kids to learn basic skills and parents to rediscover their love of riding bikes.
There hasn’t been such a place for mountain and BMX riders in Chico before now.
“It’s not like the city is adding another baseball field or basketball court,” Warner said. “This is for a whole new sport.”
Bikes aren’t allowed at the skate park at Humboldt Community Park (though BMX riders often can be found there anyway), and while there are races at the Silver Dollar BMX track, many kids don’t thrive in that competitive environment, Warner says. That’s why he set about spearheading construction of the pump track last year, receiving final approval from the Chico Area Recreation and Park District (CARD) in November. Originally set for completion in the spring, the project hit a snag after former CARD General Manager Jerry Haynes resigned from his position in February and oversight fell on park supervisor Randy Will.
Now the track is rideable and ready for public use, though the project isn’t quite finished. The base dirt still needs to harden—that takes time and lots of riding, Warner says—and trees, benches, irrigation and drainage systems and possibly a shaded structure are still forthcoming.
“It’s all going to be organic, how it grows,” he said. “There are also going to be skills features, little 1- or 2-foot drops, and wooden structures for kids to work on balance.”
The 240-by-180-foot pump track is made up of two separate courses, one for beginners and another for more advanced riders. It was built by local Robert Kennedy, who spent hundreds of hours on his tractor shaping 520 cubic yards of dirt into the jumps and turns. Kennedy has maintained the Silver Dollar track for many years, and has extensive experience building pump tracks—including one in his own backyard.
“He’s a perfectionist,” Will said. “He took pride in the job and really spent a lot of time out here.”
In all, the project cost about $19,000. A Main Hobbies donated $3,000 for the track’s design, while another $3,200 was raised during a screening of the film The Rise of Enduro, featuring Warner, at Sierra Nevada’s Big Room last winter, Will said. The rest was budgeted by the CARD board of directors.
The track’s maintenance will be a communal effort involving Kennedy, CARD staff and volunteers through Chico Velo Cycling Club. CARD also will host instructional programs for children starting next spring.
“They’ll offer courses on how to ride and be safe, so I think kids will get into it,” Warner said. “I’m excited to get out there and help teach clinics and show kids what’s up.”
Warner says his next step is approaching local high schools about possibly starting a mountain bike league. “The sport is growing so fast—if kids got into it now, it’s the perfect time.”