Consultations are still underway, but off-road cycling enthusiasts should have the beginnings of an impressive new — and city-sanctioned — course by the summer.
A trails specialist with the International Mountain Bicycling Association, brought in to provide direction and design recommendations, says the initial course will be a top-notch showcase facility that will draw mountain biking tourists to Windsor.
“It’s going to put Windsor on the map in a different way — it’s fantastic to see a city taking this big a step,” said Justin Truelove, the IMBA’s Guelph-based program co-ordinator.
Truelove is in Windsor next week to conduct GPS mapping and flagging for proposed courses at Malden Park and in Little River Corridor Park. He and city officials will be at a public consultation session at the Malden Park visitors centre, 4200 Malden Rd., on Tuesday from 6 to 7:30 p.m.
We want to knock this out of the park — this is going to draw people to Windsor
The initial work will be on enhancing and connecting some of the existing narrow bike trails at Malden Park with creation of a “stacked loop” of courses, totalling up to nine kilometres in length, for everyone from beginners to expert off-road cyclists. The most challenging double-black course could have log and boulder obstacles for experts to jump off or roll down.
Both Malden and Little River will eventually boast linear trails and so-called pump tracks — specially designed compact dirt courses featuring sharp turns, moguls and jumps and other potentially perilous obstacles. With $500,000 already set aside by city council for the project, city staff hope to have at least the Malden Park single-track and Little River pump track completed by the fall.
Mike Clement, the city’s manager of parks development, said each site will include separate learning areas where novices and younger cyclists can try out individual features like boulders and logs.
“It’s all about managing the risks,” Clement said when asked about the liability to the municipality with the potentially high-risk sport.
Windsor embarked on the off-road mountain bike project when a public outcry erupted, particularly among youth, after city officials closed down an unauthorized off-road course built in ecologically sensitive Black Oak Heritage Park on the city’s west side and a pump track created by off-road enthusiasts on the east side was bulldozed flat.
Clement said the April 30 public meeting is to get final input and suggestions on trail and track options, including length and size, difficulty and key features. Staff will then report to council and ask to have the reserve funds released, “and then it’s off to the races.”
Most of the trails, he said, will be segregated from other users of those public lands, with the trails marked and signs posted. Truelove said Little River will be geared towards less aggressive riders and will include multi-use trails and natural surfaces.
Malden Park has been designated as the host site for the mountain biking event at the multi-sport 2022 Can-Am Police Fire Games being hosted by Windsor.
“We want to knock this out of the park — this is going to draw people to Windsor,” said Truelove.
As for the local off-road cycling community, he said they’re “keen to get going — everybody is pretty excited and stoked so far.”
Truelove said Malden Park will include a “flow trail” from its highest point, with gravity feeding the cyclist down a series of high-bank turns and jumps.