Saint John cyclists work together to improve Rockwood Park

Members of the Saint John Cyclists Facebook group are building shelters and carving a new bike path through Rockwood Park.

With city funding, they are building 4 shelters and a new mountain bike trail

Mountain biker Laurie Robichaud takes a break in a shelter recently built by Saint John Cycling. (Ben Silcox/CBC)

Members of Saint John Cycling are building shelters and carving a new bike path through Rockwood Park.

The group has long helped with cleaning up trails and replacing signs in the park but is now able to take on bigger projects, thanks to funding from the city, said Ernie Campbell, one of the group's organizers.

"It's all a labour of love, with volunteers," he said.

Building for everyone

The group plans to build four shelters while also working on a new 1.7-kilometre mountain bike trail.

One shelter is already complete, and another is under construction. 

Money for the shelters comes from the city, with some private donations, said Campbell.

The shelters cost about $650 each, with the city chipping in for the material and the cyclists volunteering their time to build them on Sundays and Tuesdays.

The entrance to the new trail, which the group is building from scratch with help from the International Mountain Biking Association. (Ben Silcox/CBC)

The newest shelter should be finished soon, said Campbell. He said the structure can be used by anyone, not just bicyclists.

"Anything we do in that park, that's a multi-use park, so we make it for bikers, snowshoers, trail runners, cross-country skiers," he said.

Campbell said the group enjoys building the shelters, but also sees the work as an opportunity to make a difference in the community.

"There's all kinds of opportunity in a place like that for community groups to get involved and make a difference," he said. 

"That's what we've tried to do because we're passionate about the city, and the park particularly."

New trail

The new mountain bike trail also remains a work in progress, said group member Laurie Robichaud.

The group is building the trail from scratch and enlisted help from the International Mountain Bicycling Association in scouting the trail's path and learning how to build it.

Laurie Robichaud bikes an existing trail in Rockwood Park. (Ben Silcox/CBC)

"So far so good," said Robichaud, adding that the group wanted to build the trail for 10 years. "It's a great trail what we've done so far and we're hoping to have that done, probably in the spring.

"It was great terrain, lots of rock, lots of material to work with."

Campbell said anyone interested in getting involved in Saint John Cycling projects can join the group on Facebook.

The group's philosophy is that "any hands are good hands," he said, and volunteers will be taught how to help.