Prineville Bike Park

Directions: The park is located on about 1 acre of land just north of Third Street on NE Juniper Street, across from the skatepark and adjacent to Ochoco Creek Park.

Rating: Technically beginner to expert; aerobically easy.

Trail features: An area for families and novice riders, jump lines from beginner to expert, a pump track, and obstacles for mountain bike training. Terrain is available for all ages and abilities.

Rules: Helmets are required; dogs are not allowed; children under 12 must be supervised by an adult; riding in wet or muddy conditions is not permitted; park is open from sunrise to sunset as weather allows; always ride within your limits and abilities.

PRINEVILLE —

Some jumps at bike parks can be so massive they are downright intimidating.

The idea of progression in freeride mountain biking has helped to mitigate that intimidation for those who are new to jumps. Bikers can start small and work their way up to bigger features.

The Prineville Bike Park is a perfect example. With jump lines ranging from small to extra large, bikers can progress at their own pace. And jumps are not the only features at the popular park that opened last summer.

A pump track, strider area, and cross-country skills area are also available to mountain bikers who may not have an affinity for launching themselves and their bikes high into the air.

Last week I checked out the park, and a relatively new trail system in Prineville called the Lower 66.

The bike park is right in town adjacent to Ochoco Creek Park, just off the main drag of Third Street. Numerous signs and maps display the park’s various features.

As a sort of warmup before heading to the jumps, I rode through the XC skills area on my mountain bike. That part of the park includes several logs to ride over, narrow bridges, and rocky, technical sections. The pump track is a series of rollers that bikers of most any skill level can take on.

The strider area is for children, sort of a small pump track on which kids can ride their striders (small bikes without pedals) or bikes.

While two teenagers were airing it out on the jump lines, a toddler was riding through the strider area under the watchful eye of her mother.

After a few laps through the XC skills area and the pump track, I made my way to the jump zone. In case I did not know where I was, a sign read “Attn: you have entered the jump zone.”

The same sign encourages beginner riders to start on small jumps and then work their way up to larger ones. The four jump lines include small, medium, large and extra large. The last two include wood ramps down which bikers can ride to pick up speed as they head toward the jumps.

I started on the small line and soon thereafter moved to the medium line, which includes tabletops that can be jumped or simply ridden over without catching air. After a while, I worked up the nerve to attempt the large jump line, which features large tables and jumps but does not require huge air.

I got bolder and bolder with each lap, but I felt most comfortable on the medium line, where I could catch some decent air without feeling reckless.

The teenagers performed big airs along the extra-large line, which is considered expert-only for lots of vertical and tricks, but I did not try it myself.

According to Prineville locals, the bike park has been quite a hit since it opened last summer. It is designed for all ages and abilities and a variety of bikes, including dirt jumpers, BMX bikes and mountain bikes.

“Any of the days when it’s ridable, less the winter that we had, I’d say there’s kids out there constantly,” says James Good, owner of Good Bike Co. in Prineville and one of the planners of the park. “I think it’s an incredible asset. The progression … having a pump track and then the bigger progression jumps, and then there’s some logs and rock gardens and kind of a cross-country loop. It gives everybody — any age, young or old — a chance to work on skills. And then you can take those to the bigger trails out in the Ochocos or wherever.”

The bike park was first conceptualized several years ago when three teen BMX riders went to the Prineville City Council asking for an in-town track. The Central Oregon Trail Alliance got involved and added features aimed at attracting a variety of riders.

A collaborative project of COTA and Crook County Parks and Recreation, the park is one of the first city-sanctioned dirt jump parks in Oregon, according to a sign at the park.

The parks department manages the bike park on land donated by the city with a free 40-year lease. Bike enthusiasts and other groups raised money for the project, which cost about $89,000, according to COTA. An Ore­gon nonprofit, the Roseburg-based Ford Family Foundation, awarded a $25,000 grant to the project.

Good held COTA Crook County Chapter meetings in his shop as the Prineville community came together to make the bike park a reality.

“It’s been a huge discussion for many years, to the point of it getting built,” Good says. “It was kind of a community decision to make it happen. Everybody brought in their own experiences. We hired a professional firm to design it and build it.”

That professional firm was Dirt Mechanics. A recreational excavation company run by Bend’s Paul Lissette, Dirt Mechanics also designed and built the Mt. Bachelor Bike Park, which opened in 2013.

The Prineville Bike Park is part of COTA’s larger mission to bring more mountain biking opportunities to Crook County. The Lower 66 trail network is part of that effort. Located below the rimrock near Meadow Lakes Golf Course, the Lower 66 includes about 4 miles of looping singletrack that takes riders up and down the hillside. The trails are being built on 66 acres of state park land within the Prineville city limits, just south of the Ochoco Overlook and state Highway 126.

“We have great trails in town now with the Lower 66, and those trails are expanding, and the trails in the Ochocos will open up here in the next two to three weeks or so,” Good says. “The bike park just adds extra features, and you can start linking those features. It’s just a big asset to the community, clearly.”

— Reporter: 541-383-0318,

mmorical@bendbulletin.com

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