Windsor gets input on two new mountain bike parks during open house

After two open houses to discuss what the city is calling 'off-road cycling,' the city has decided to move forward with the courses — one at Malden Park and one in Little River Corridor Park.

One will be at Malden Park and one in Little River Corridor Park

Right now, Windsor mountain bikers have to go further into Ontario or into Michigan to find designated trails. (Derek Crowe)

Windsor wants input on the two new mountain bike courses coming to Windsor-Essex.

Trail designer Justin Truelove of the International Mountain Bicycling Association hosted an open house Tuesday evening to get input from interested riders regarding things like difficulty and other key features.

The Essex County Trails Association and an unofficial group managing a dirt jump course along the Ganatchio Trail originally reached out to the IMBA to persuade council to reverse a decision to bulldoze the so-called 'dirt church.'

Instead Truelove, the IMBA's specialist and program coordinator, came to Windsor and made a presentation to the city's parks and recreation department and was approved to come up with a concept design.

"In a project of this size and scope we want to create something that will be a lasting legacy for the community," said Truelove. "We spend more time designing multi-use trails, which is what these trails are going to be used for."

Truelove has worked on almost 75 different projects across Canada. 

Trail designer Justin Truelove says the courses at Malden Park and Little River Corridor Park will 'put Windsor on the map' as a 'world-class' place to go mountain biking. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

After two open houses to discuss what the city is calling 'off-road cycling,' the city decided to move forward with the courses — one at Malden Park and one in Little River Corridor Park.

"The majority of the single track in Malden and in Little River, it's going to be designed with mountain biking in mind," said Truelove. "I know that Malden used to be an old dump site. Little River, great park. Those trails will be focused on the surrounding community."

There are a number of factors that go into designing the courses. 

"We talk about environmental sustainability, and work with the area the landscape is giving us," said Truelove. "Who wants to use the trail and what's their ability level? If we're building a very advanced trail like you'd see in Whistler, it might not get a lot of use."

According to Truelove, Malden Park will have about six to eight kilometres of trail and Little River will get up to three kilometres of trail. 

Part of the track in Little River will be what's called a 'pump track' which allows riders to use their body weight and momentum to keep going, rather than having to pedal constantly. The pump track component in Windsor will be asphalt, which opens its use up to walkers, skate-boarders and roller-bladers. 

The trails will be 'preferred use' for mountain bikers, but can be walked or hiked on as well. 

Malden Park riders excited

Ron Uprichard has been cycling through Malden Park for the past 12 years and said he's excited to see the park get an off-road biking trail.

"It's the perfect spot to do it, with all the different areas," said Uprichard, adding he expects runners and cyclists to get along with one another as they already do.

During Tuesday evening's presentation, Truelove said introducing off-road bike trails could "put Windsor on the map" as a "world-class" place to go off-road biking. Uprichard said he'd be happy to participate in any competitive events that Windsor may host in the future.

"I miss the mountain bikes that used to go on here a lot. We haven't had any in a few years so it'll be nice to get them back here," said Uprichard.

Eric Favot, left, and Ron Uprichard both ride their bikes through Malden Park and say they're excited to see the introduction of off-road biking trails. (Sanjay Maru/CBC)

Eric Favot has been cycling through Malden Park "since he was a kid" and said he supports any type of initiative which will encourage more people to come to the park.

"One thing the city has been not interested in is having jumps. And I understand there's a liability. It's very exciting to know they might actually be into putting something like that," said Favot.

During the presentation, one woman cited concerns about off-road cyclists possibly speeding into runners since they would all be sharing the same park. But according to Favot, it'll be up to the veteran users of Malden Park to create a safe atmosphere for everyone.

"If the older guys are out here wearing their helmets, creating a positive vibe and teaching the younger guys to have etiquette and respect, it goes a long way."

with files from Windsor Morning and Sanjay Maru


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