Bike park on track to opening

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A project which has been backed by an army of volunteers and could help people lead healthier lives will open at the weekend.

Wetherby Bike Trails will set the wheels of cycling in motion at the free to use Devil’s Toenail (DT) bike park on Saturday after nearly a year of work.

Spokesman for the volunteer group which has been leading the development, Declan Wilson said: “The Devil’s Toenail Bike Park, made with over 500 tonnes of stone, transforms a triangle of wasteland, where two railway lines once split.

“Now after almost a year of building, literally thousands of hours of people’s free time, and amazing council and grant support, over one kilometre of trails, a jump line and pump track are now ready for riding.”

The grand unveiling will be at noon on Saturday April 13 at the site near Sustrans Route 67 on the Harland Way between Wetherby and Spofforth, which was given £32,000 from the Sport England Community Asset Fund and £5,000 from the Leeds Outer North East Community Committee Fund. Wetherby Town Council also gave support.

Declan added: “This is a really accessible facility in the heart of a community, which has transformed derelict land into something which has potentially limitless returns on the investment.

“We are opening at a time when the popularity of cycling as a sport and means of transport, is growing all the time.

“Cycling in the UK has a really bright future and community bike parks like the DT are becoming more common.

“You just need a bike and a helmet and then hit the trails.

“If we can help people lead a more active lifestyle, we’ll be happy with that, but maybe we can play our part in launching the careers of some off-road superstars of the future too.

“We’d love to see as many female riders using the park as male riders. We’re open for everyone. Grab a bike and come on down.”

The project came about when Wetherby Bike Trails, which promotes off-road riding, identified the potential.

“ To build it, we got the council onboard, secured funding and hooked up with expert Yorkshire trail builders, SingletrAction to be guided along the way and we have learned a lot,” added Declan.

But that was the start of a journey which residents responded to on a weekly basis.

“It’s a bike park for the community, built by the community,” said Declan.

“We could never have achieved this so soon, without all the support we have enjoyed.

“We have had hundreds of volunteers helping out in all weathers. We’ve had children, parents, grand-parents, firefighters, junior soldiers and a range of youth groups.

“Every day we have been digging, which has taken us a few meters closer to the finish line.

“Anyone who has had anything to do with this project, should be really proud at the positive and lasting impact they have made.”

The park offers challenges for all abilities, with a blue section for basic riding, red for proficient mountain bikers and black for experts.

The trail is a loop around most of the site, including a rock garden made from recycled stone.

The jump line is an opportunity to get some air and the pump track is a continuous loop of features to help maintain mountain bike riding skills.

Key sections reflect the area’s history, such as Flying Ginge’ for the jump line named after Wetherby’s WW2 fighter ace Ginger Lacey and the central trail, The Mainline recalls the days of steam.

Watsons Meadow is named after the Watson family who owned much of the site and sold it to Wetherby Town Council for a nominal fee of one pound, so the project could happen.