YK bike park planned for summer 2019

by Avery Zingel - June 26, 2018

The Yellowknife Mountain Bike Club could see a bike park in the city as early as next summer, if all goes according to plan.

Jenia Rubel and Shannon Jennings cycle on Prelude Lake trail during a group ride.
photo courtesy of Geoff Foster

With matching funding secured from the city, the club is in the planning stages for the project, which will be adjacent to Bristol Pit along Old Airport Road.

The park will include an asphalt track, slopestyle dirt jumps and a wooden skills area with ladder bridges, said club vice-president Thomas de Bastiani.

The terrain surrounding Yellowknife is highly technical with fewer dirt trails, making it difficult to ride at the beginner level, he said. Building a bike park is a stepping stone for cyclists to build their skills and navigate more difficult terrain, according to de Bastiani.

Mountain biking culture has come and gone in waves in Yellowknife and is experiencing something of a resurgence, he said.

“It’s the freedom aspect which drew me to the sport. You can mountain bike almost anywhere,” he said.

Local interest in mountain biking culture has ebbed and flowed in Yellowknife since the millennium.

“When I was a kid, back in the mid-2000s, there were a large number of kids that were into the sport. There were jumps and structures being built, illegally, around town,” he said.

The club’s members are ambassadors for the sport and for tourism, said de Bastiani.

“A lot of (tourists), even with the lack of trails and infrastructure, are really impressed with the terrain out here. Even visitors that are here for a few days recognize the potential,” he said.

The future park would set the stage to put mountain biking on the map in the Northwest Territories and inject money into the local economy through tourism and events, said de Bastiani.

The entire park would be comparable in size to a soccer field, he said.

The bike club – a finalist in the Arctic Inspiration Prize, but fell short of that money – has the City of Yellowknife promising to match $25,000 in funds raised by the club.

Construction could start by this fall or as soon as the ground thaws in spring 2019.