At 3:30 p.m. this past Monday, about 30 bicyclists riding a collection of cross bikes, mountain bikes and fat tire bikes, made their way down Second Street, heading west.
The group of bikers from Prineville and Bend had gathered at Good Bike Co., on Third Street, where owner James Good was busy prepping bikes as almost his entire fleet of rentals had been reserved for the ride.
The group was taking part in the Winter Root Beer Ride to raise awareness for the planned Prineville Bike Park that COTA hopes to construct next summer.
In addition to the group ride, the day’s activities included the sampling of a specially crafted root beer at Solstice Brewing, courtesy of Joe Barker, a showing of a number of short bike park films, and a raffle of bike gear.
The destination of the group ride was the recently constructed COTA bike trail along what is called the Lower 66 property, just north of the grade, and accessed via Rimrock Road.
I tagged along on a bike graciously provided by Good. After a quick group photo, we headed over to Second Street and began pedaling west.
The weather was less than comfortable, but what is typically expected of a winter-time trail biker —temperatures were in the low 30s and a light snow had begun to fall.
The location for Prineville’s bike park has been secured and will be located adjacent to Ochoco Creek Park, on a northeast corner 1.5-acre lot.
The City of Prineville signed a 40-year lease on the property with the Crook County Parks and Recreation District, effective Sept. 1 of this year -- something that COTA deemed necessary in order for the park to become a reality.
“COTA can raise money and provide volunteers, but we do not have long-term liability or management abilities,” said Darlene Henderson, COTA’s Crook County Chapter representative. “So, a partnership with CCPRD is what is allowing this to move forward.”
It is hoped that the park will provide a variety of terrain appealing to both experienced and beginning riders of all ages. It will offer jump and flow trails, pump tracks with bermed turns, wood features such as log rides and ladder bridges and rock obstacles.
According to COTA, the sport of mountain biking is growing and they feel the proposed bike park will provide area riders with a safe area for exercise and to hone their skills.
“We will be proceeding with a hybrid design for construction,” said Henderson. “COTA will hire design expertise to maximize the area and make sure that we can provide for all levels of riding.”
The bulk of construction for the park is planned as a volunteer effort and COTA is actively recruiting for help.
As the biking group headed west down Second Street, we attracted a variety of bewildered glances from passing motorists who probably weren’t used to seeing such a large group of bikers, especially in winter.
After about 10 minutes, we regrouped at the trailhead, where Good gave a brief introduction to the trail and the route we would be taking.
We headed out in single file along the single-track trail. Almost immediately, we discovered that the trail was going to be a bit muddy. Many of us, including this reporter, experienced a bit of rear wheel slippage as we headed up the grade. There was a lot of dismounting and walking of bikes, quickly causing a traffic jam.
As we got to the top of the grade, Good announced that the group would be splitting into two.
“Those who want a bit more of a technical ride can follow Travis Holman,” he announced. “The rest of us can head back down to take the bike path back to the store.”
I was one of those who opted for heading back, and I wasn’t alone. It was getting dark quickly, and it wasn’t getting any warmer.
Besides, that crafted root beer was on people’s minds, and Barker was one of those opting to head back.
Eric Newman, of Bend, was just the kind of bike rider that local COTA trail building efforts in Prineville is hoping to attract to its trails and bike park.
“I’m always looking for an excuse to get out of work early,” said Newman, as he sat atop his fat tire bike. “I’m out here to support whatever is going on in Prineville. I love it out here and I am looking forward to the ride.”