Pushing for a pump track in Invermere

May long weekend is target day for completion if approval is granted.

The proposed pump track for Invermere would occupy 500 to 600 feet of interwoven track.

The proposed pump track for Invermere would occupy 500 to 600 feet of interwoven track.

Cyclists in Invermere may soon be in for a treat.

Becca Wright of the Purcell Mountain Bike Club is advocating to the District of Invermere (DOI) and the Rocky Mountain School District #6 the implementation of a pump track in an empty space at Mount Nelson Athletic Park.

Similar to the pump track built in Radium Hot Springs last spring, the track would be a dirt circuit that would require cyclists to use strength and momentum to ride through a series of rolls and jumps.

Speaking with The Echo, Becca Wright explained why she decided to spearhead the communal cycling course.

“My husband [Byron Grey of Bicycle Works) and I have been running kids’ mountain bike programs since 2001, and especially for the young kids; the ones that are under ten,” she said. “Pump tracks are something that friends of ours in other communities have had, and we’ve ridden them and thought that they were fun. As a high school teacher, I see the Mount Nelson Athletic Park every day, and there is that space that isn’t being used right by the tennis courts, and I thought, ‘That would be a great spot to have a pump track.’ “

A meeting was held in November of 2011 to determine if there was enough interest in the community to push forward.

“I thought, ‘Well hey — that’s something I can do as an individual if the clubs aren’t able to’,” Wright said.

That same month, Wright began making phone calls to draw support. Upon contacting the Columbia Valley Cycling Association at that time, she learned of the pump track that was underway in Radium, which was consuming all of the organization’s resources.

“I thought that was fantastic, but I still wanted one here, so I thought, ‘Okay, their time is kind of committed there, why don’t I spend my time trying to get one going here and then they can help us once it’s all up and going’.”

Her next step was to make presentations to councils, but due to time constraints of both parties, it was nearly a year before Wright arranged meetings with the DOI and school board.

Wright finally brought forward her idea at the January 22 DOI council meeting, and although the presentation was well-received, final approval could be granted until approval is issued by the school board and insurance is purchased.

Wright is optimistic the red tape will clear; similar success was achieved by the organization responsible for the implementation of the skate park.

“Our community, though we’re tight money wise, I think that we have entrepreneurial spirit here in town and I think we do have a strong community.”

Should the pump track receive approval, volunteers will be sought as well as equipment, tools and “good dirt”.

Once it’s complete, volunteers will also be needed to maintain the track throughout the first season, as the first year is when it requires most care. Arranging volunteer maintenance duty is also part of Wright’s proposal.

“After this year, we would sit down with council and determine what a longer term maintenance program would look like,” she said. “So we would take that responsibility for the first year to get it off the ground.”

Wright is determined to have the track built in 2013, possibly as early as the May long weekend. “We’d like to tie it into something that’s already going on,” she said. “For example, if it’s Valley Appreciation Day or the July long weekend, for more of a grand opening festival.”

The track that Wright currently has in mind will occupy 500 to 600 feet of interwoven track. The course chosen was the one considered the most ideal for Invermere, however “it’s subject to change — once you get in there you start seeing your workable space,” Wright said.

During Wright’s presentation to the DOI, Councillor Anderson asked if the pump track’s location would interfere with plans to build a middle school in the long term future. Wright acknowledges the pump track will lie where a middle school would be built, but mentioned that the tennis courts already interfere with the proposed site. Wright also pointed out that the dirt track could easily be levelled if need be.

“They are quite cost efficient,” she said. “And because it’s dirt, it can be modified — it doesn’t have to be permanent. It can go with whatever trend is happening. You establish the pump track area, but maybe every five years you look at the design and think, ‘Okay, is it time for a change?’ “

But for now, Wright says the biggest hurdle to overcome is approval.

Should total approval be granted, cyclists and handy-people who would like to help out can do so by contacting Bicycle Works in Invermere at 250-342-7231 or bicycle works@live.com.