The grand opening July 16 for the Cartwright Park Pump Track celebrated the official birth of a new community biking venue for old and young enthusiasts alike.
The trail — designed and created under the leadership of the North Coast Trail Alliance — sits adjacent to Cartwright Park, on the corner of Avenue S and Franklin Street behind the Seaside School District Administration Building. The looping track system offers three areas varying in degree of difficulty, making it suitable for 3-year-olds learning to ride on balance bikes along with hard core BMX racers wanting to build their skills for application on mountain trails.
The outdoor facility is, in fact, intended as a family friendly venue with no age restrictions, said Chris Quackenbush, a member of the North Coast Trail Alliance.
“A pump track is for everyone from 2 to 92,” he added. “It’s a family activity.”
All that’s asked of riders is that they wear helmets while riding.
During the grand opening, members from the alliance and the community joined to celebrate the new track, the first big project accomplished by the organization. Local businesses donated food, drinks and raffle prizes for the opening day.
The nonprofit, which formed in July 2015, is part of the Northwest Trail Alliance, which is a chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association based in the Portland Metro area. The group’s mission, Quackenbush said, “is to create mountain biking opportunities in the Clatsop County area.” The North Coast subchapter has about 30 members hailing anywhere from Nehalem to Knappa.
In the fall of last year, they saw an opportunity to partner with the city of Seaside, which owns the land, to install the pump track — so named because riders can use the track’s berms and rollers to gain momentum and ride continuously using a pumping motion that negates the need for pedaling.
With the nearby park, which has a large field, restrooms and a playground, and easy access via bicycle, “It seemed like a good spot,” Quackenbush said. The flat land previously hosted nothing but invasive species.
The design phase began in November, and volunteers got to work in early spring, after City Council approved the project. Area businesses, including All Rents Tool & Equipment, Keith Keranen Excavating and Teevin & Fischer Quarry, donated equipment, materials and labor for the project. A large number of community members also donated their time or what they could offer, like pizza for workers, to see the pump track materialize.
Asked why the volunteers are dedicated to making mountain biking more accessible to locals and visitors, Quackenbush responded, “To me, it’s getting all of us off our phones and computers and getting out and doing something healthy.”
Steven Blakesley, a member of the alliance and a health promotion specialist for Clatsop County, also emphasized the health benefits of biking, whether a person is beginning to learn the sport or a consummate rider. The alliance connects mountain biking enthusiasts in the area, who in turn are creating opportunities for people to be physically active.
“These are really positive things to build a healthier community,” Blakesley said. “We know there’s no money for this in the government anymore. It has to come from users.”
With the completion of the Cartwright Park Pump Track, the alliance figured out how to work together, practiced strategies for engaging the public and “demonstrated that we can get stuff done,” he said.
As the alliance moves forward, its volunteer members hope to continue partnering with landowners to generate more mountain bicycling opportunities. Quackenbush said they have their sight set on some land owned by the Oregon Department of Forestry behind the Astoria Column. They are working on a proposal to install and maintain a track on part of the property, Blakesley said. Regardless of what project they tackle next, Blakesley is optimistic they will receive the same outpouring of volunteerism and donations from the community as were provided for the Seaside pump track.
“I know we will — this is a very supportive community work with,” he said.
For more information on the North Coast Trail Alliance, visit the organization’s Facebook page or www.northcoasttrailalliance.com.