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Gold River Messenger

Along for the Ride

Sep 18, 2020 12:00AM ● By Story and photos by Susan Maxwell Skinner

Andrew Clark (2) gets a head-start on cycling friends at the Fair Oaks Bike Park.

Along for the Ride [2 Images] Click Any Image To Expand

Bike Park Gets Wheel of Approval

SACRAMENTO REGION, CA (MPG) - Through cooperation between community and park district, Fair Oaks and Orangevale kids are enjoying $30,000 in improvements to their bike area at Phoenix Park. Bumps and ramps offer a clay-colored paradise for riders -- from toddlers to parents.

One of only four of such free facilities in greater Sacramento, Fair Oaks Bike Park was carved from an old off-leash dog area. A God-send for families during COVID months, the fenced half-acre allows exercise and excitement with social distancing.

Former US Navy Seal and passionate cyclist Garett McDermid spearheaded improvements. Seeing Phoenix Park’s under-used bike arena last year, he decided the spot offered little to excite kids. “They had level trusses, a couple of pipes and slalom cones,” he observed. “I envisioned pump tracks, where kids could have fun for hours.” Forming a group called Family FreeRide, the dad of three got local parents enthused.

He and volunteers applied to Sacramento County for a grant to fund improvements. When this aid did not eventuate, Fair Oaks Park District came up with $30,000 to get the work done – on the condition that the volunteers did future maintenance.

Missouri-based pump-track builders were engaged and work began in June. When excavations to widen nearby Hazel Avenue yielded dirt by the truckload, free material was a serendipitous windfall. McDermid and friends recruited sponsors; they also raised $8000 toward maintenance through Go-Fund-Me.

Hordes of excited youngsters took first rides in July. “They were ecstatic,” reports McDermid. “They quickly discovered how challenging and fun the park is.” Between 30 and 100 cyclists now use the enclosure daily. Among adherents is four-year-old Nathan Larsen, who rides for a Roseville junior BMX team. “I like the park because there are so many bumps and I can go fast,” approves the prodigy. His mom blesses its closeness to home and the fact that – unlike commercial BMX parks – it is free to all comers. “With COVID,” says Amy Larsen, “this is somewhere my boys can safely be around their friends.”

Garett McDermid hopes the Fair Oaks Park District will sponsor more improvements. His wish-list includes a sprinkler system to keep dirt hardened; a shade structure for observers; a barbecue area and an entrance gate. “This is a great place for families,” says the activist. "Kids learn camaraderie and resilience here. They learn to wait their turn and be considerate to others. The sport is eco-friendly and great exercise.”

The bike enclosure is accessible during Phoenix Park open hours in dry weather. Anyone may use the facility at 9050 Sunset Ave, Fair Oaks. Note: no motorized vehicles – including remote control cars -- are permitted. Bike park sponsors include:  Hastie’s Capitol Sand and Gravel; Starr’s Building Supply; J.B. Bostick Sand and Gravel; Guild Mortgage; FatTrack Mountain Bike Association and Cerest stress management.

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