The mountain bike trails and amenities in Colorado Springs just keep getting better, and three local cycling groups want to make sure young riders have more opportunities to develop their skills. Kids on Bikes, Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates and the Cheyenne Mountain Cycling Club are collaborating to add a new pump track in the Cresta Open Space, located between Skyway Elementary School and Cheyenne Mountain High School. All they have to do is raise the money. The goal is $45,000 by June.
A pump track geared toward young and developing riders was approved as part of the 2018 North Cheyenne Cañon Park Master and Management Plan, clearing approvals with the City Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services department. With city budgets stretched thin, the cycling groups are taking a grassroots approach to raise the funds to get it done.
“This project is so exciting and practically ready to be built,” says Daniel Byrd, executive director of Kids on Bikes. “Donors will not have to wait years to see the results of their contributions. It’s quite possible the pump track can be completed by the end of this year as long as we’re able to raise the funds needed.”
David Deitemeyer, senior landscape architect for the City’s Parks, Trails and Cultural Services department, confirms that timeline is possible. “With sufficient funding in place, the final design and implementation of the project can begin,” he says. “It would be feasible to have completed this summer, but there are several outside factors that could delay, including weather, contractor availability and track material availability.
Design and construction drawings are underway, Deitemeyer says. And once funding is secured from the project partners, city land managers will be able to solicit contractor bids for construction and implementation. Next steps also included continued dialogue with neighbors and finalizing maintenance plans, creating signage and coordinating volunteer opportunities.
The Cresta Pump Track will be located along the Cresta Trail, which Deitemeyer calls “a significant non-motorized trail connection between Bear Creek Regional Park and Downtown Colorado Springs to the northeast and Stratton Open Space and Cheyenne Cañon to the southwest.”
It also represents a point of connection for biking ability. “Pump tracks are safe, accessible and fun places for kids to ride,” Byrd says. “The Cresta Pump Track will add a place where developing riders can learn and progress their skills on the southwest side of town. Kids can practice and ride laps with friends and families, then progress onto some of the city’s best mountain biking trails in Stratton Open Space and Cheyenne Cañon, which are just up the hill.”
Cory Sutela, executive director of Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates, sees the Cresta pump track as a positive step in creating more varied riding experiences for locals. “This will be a fantastic, unique addition to our trail system as we continue to expand riding opportunities for cyclists of all ages,” Sutela says. “Pump tracks are a great development opportunity for kids, and are also fun for us ‘more mature’ riders.”
Pump tracks have gained popularity throughout Colorado and along the Colorado Front Range. Their short trails usually include continuously looping series of rollers, berms or other features, such as elevated platforms, designed to helped riders build their skills. More advanced riders are often able to maintain their speed by shifting their weight to propel the bike, aka pumping, in order to loop the course without pedaling.
Doug Bursnall, head coach of the Cheyenne Mountain Cycling Team (CMCT), sees the project as another way to foster a love of biking and to build lifelong riders who are invested in their local community. “Along with fundraising, our high school and junior high riders will serve as ongoing caretakers of the pump track,” Bursnall says. “It’s a great way for these kids to give back and to be part of the larger community helping to provide and maintain world-class biking trails in their hometown.”
In recent seasons, CMCT has been increasing its trail maintenance days in partnership with Medicine Wheel Trail Advocates. The volunteer-led club includes about 60 high school and junior high riders and is affiliated with the Colorado High School Cycling League, which hosts an annual, statewide racing season in the fall. (Full disclosure, I am a CMCT volunteer and member of the pump track organizing team.)
The Cresta Open Space is a 35-acre foothills grass and shrubland located between Skyway Elementary School and Cheyenne Mountain High School. The organizers note that approximately 5,500 kids live within a safe, ridable radius of the pump track, bordered by Highway 24 to the north and I-25 to the east, according to data from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment and the Colorado Department of Education. “The Cresta Pump Track will help to open new cycling opportunities for kids in Ivywild, Stratton Meadows and other nearby neighborhoods, as well as Cheyenne Mountain,” Byrd says. “We know that a bike is a vehicle to confidence, freedom, health and a better lifestyle, and our goal is to help every child have access to a bike and accessible places to ride.”
Organizers have applied for a matching grant up to $15,000 from Outride, a national organization committed to breaking down barriers so that all kids have access to bicycles and safe places to ride. “We’re still waiting to hear about approval for that grant, but we’re really hopeful it will come through,” Bursnall says. “An Outride grant would be an ideal way for donors and sponsors to double their dollars.”
Regardless, the groups are moving forward with fundraising efforts. “The Cresta Pump Track is ideally placed to provide a fun, inclusive and social gathering spot to learn skills and hang with friends year-round,” Bursnall says. “That’s a win for mountain bikers, but also a win for the local community as well.”
Want to Help Build a Pump Track?
Learn more about the project at the Cresta Pump Track fundraising page.