The last time a big chunk of Canada's gravity powered cycling community took a ferry together, the atmosphere was subdued. There were tears and there was lowered voices as everyone made the 90 minute trip across the Strait of Georgie to Vancouver Island. Yesterday, another heavy crew assembled to make the same trip but this time it was to celebrate a community coming together to create a legacy instead of to say goodbye. The sombre mood from just over a year ago was replaced with big smiles and loud jokes. Button up shirts were left behind as riding kits and XC lids were the outfits of choice.
Forget the world cup wins, the Canadian championships or that "what-ifs". This bike park will be Stevie's legacy. Not only will the talent it helps create keep the Canadian team strong in the future, but it gives the kids of Nanaimo a safe place to ride their bikes and put their energy towards something constructive that will keep them out of trouble.
Consisting of 3 dirt jump lines, 2 massive asphalt pump tracks and even a mulch jump, it's the largest skills park of it's kinda in North America. The numbers that went into the construction are staggering.
The 2 pump tracks are over 2500 square meters in size, with an advanced track with lines galore, and a smaller kids beginner track next to it. Claudio Caluori and Velosolutions put their heart and soul into this build over the last month, and it shows. Over 260 tons of asphalt have been carefully manicured one wheelbarrow load at a time (3250 of them!) into bicycle artwork.
Donations from the entire community, along with the Steve Smith Memorial Fund as well as the City of Nanaimo all came together to fund the construction of Stevie's dream. Considering the speed at which government normally works, the year in planning it took to make this a reality is impressive.
The Dirt jumps were built by Island native Jordie Lunn, with help from Darren Berrecloth. They threw dirt for weeks to shape the Alpine Bike Parks designed lines to near perfection. Wooden lips on the more advanced jumps will make sure they keep their shape for a long time to come.
What better way to celebrate the opening of a bike park than to give away some bikes to underprivileged kids? Pinkbike's Share the Ride worked with Gabe Fox to give away 26 bicycles to deserving kids from around Nanaimo during the opening ceremony. GT Bicycles, Norco, and Devinci all stepped up to support this. Fox Head provided fresh helmets and the RCMP was there to register their new bikes in their anti theft program.
What a day, and what a way to honour Stevie's legacy.