COCHRANE— The recent warm weather in Cochrane has brought many people out, including to Bike Cochrane’s LaunchPad, the flow park in the downtown core.
Representatives from Bike Cochrane are asking the public to hold off for a few more weeks until the surface of the park dries out and proper repairs can be made to prepare the space for the summer season.
Paul Perrault, the director of operations with the Bike Cochrane Society, said the park has seen visitors this spring, but the park is not yet ready for riding.
“We would encourage everybody in the community to stay off it until it is officially open,” Perrault said. “We understand people are excited and when the sun starts coming out like it did this afternoon and last week, people can get excited and they want to get after it, and that’s great, but the challenge is that it winds up ruining the surface and then it takes us longer to actually open it to the public.”
He said before the park can be prepped for the spring season the moisture in the ground must first thaw and dry out completely.
The pre-riding prep includes surface treatment and making sure that the clay substrate has weathered properly through the winter, compression work and levelling the surfaces. These tasks on top of the watering and regular maintenance that goes into the park.
The inclement weather patterns of southern Alberta make it very challenging to maintain an outdoor bike park, and the project requires a lot of attention.
“In southern Alberta, we cycle between gorgeous days that can be as nice as summer days and middle-of-winter days late into April,” he said. “We move from being very, very wet and full of snow, to being very, very dry and windy. It’s challenging, in the engineering materials that we have there to keep it running in all conditions.”
Perrault noted dirt trails all over the province suffer from the same problems when they are ridden on before they are fully dry.
“Whether it’s our bike park, or whether it’s a mountain bike trails in Canmore or in West Bragg Creek it’s the same problem, once you build ruts into that surface it becomes much harder to maintain it through the balance of the year,” he said. “When we built and adhered that surface, it’s got a pretty large amount of clay underfoot to keep it solid, but then the top surface winds up getting completely beat up by people riding through it when it’s wet. It’s removing soil, when you pull your bike out of there and it’s covered in mud, that’s mud that just got removed from the bike park that we have to go back in and resurface and add to the space.”
Bike Cochrane is a volunteer-run society, which generates most of the money used for projects from grant funding, donations and memberships.
When the volunteers have to continuously provide maintenance to the park, it takes away valuable attention and resources that could be used to pursue other projects in the community, Perrault explained.
“It’s volunteers. It’s not a Town project, it’s a project that Bike Cochrane fundraised for, and through the generosity of a lot of donors and community association grants, we were able to build almost a $100,000 bike park. Hopefully, that’s not the last one that we build, but it does mean that any money that we have to put back into rehabilitating it is money we can’t be putting into other new projects.”
The opening day of the LaunchPad flow park is weather-dependent and it may close again after opening if conditions worsen.
The Bike Cochrane Society largely runs thanks to the efforts of its members, who work tirelessly to make Cochrane more bike-friendly.
If you want to get involved with the Bike Cochrane Society, visit bikecochrane.com/.
“There are many, many projects we are working on, but it only happens through the strength of our volunteers,” Perrault said.