Cyclists make flying start at new Wetherby bike park

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A free off-road bike park in Wetherby launched to a flying start with a grand opening last weekend.

It was chance to say thank you to all the people who made the transformation of wasteland into The Devil’s Toenail trail centre possible.

At the rear of St Joseph’s RC Primary School off The Harland Way and built by Wetherby Bike Trails (WBT) and SingletrAction, the site features over one kilometre of trails, a jump line and pump track to keep practising skills.

“It was hard to imagine this day would come when we were filling wheelbarrows in torrential rain, or hauling boulders over frozen ground,” said WBT spokesman, Declan Wilson.

“Everything and everyone came together to make this all happen. We’ve really done it. The site is getting great use, riders are being considerate to each other and almost everyone is wearing a helmet, which is a smart move. We’ve had lots of female riders too, which is important. This place is for everyone.”

But he added that the work is not finished yet: “We still have plans to develop and improve the park.

“We need to install seating and want to encourage more wildlife, with trees and shrubs arriving soon. New trails will emerge and everything needs a bit of maintenance at times, so there will be plenty of opportunities for volunteers to pick up tools again in the near future.”

The park is made from 500 tonnes of crushed stone, offering 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 Ginger’ for the jump line named after Wetherby’s WW2 fighter ace Ginger Lacey and the central trail, The Mainline recalls the days of steam, with former routes to Harrogate and Church Fenton, bordering the land.

Watsons Meadow is a central picnic area of growing grass seed, named after Bob and Ann Watson, who owned much of the site and sold it to Wetherby Town Council for a nominal fee of one pound, so the project would happen.

Ann Watson joined Wetherby Town Mayor Galan Moss in setting the first riders off on Saturday.

None of the park would have been possible without £32,000 allocated by the Sport England Community Asset Fund and £5,000 from the Leeds Outer North East Community Committee Fund, as well as key support from Wetherby Town Council, every step of the way.

The Devil’s Toenail is the second project for Wetherby Bike Trails, who promote off-road cycling.

The Little Toe bike track is only a few hundred metres north of the DT and is aimed at early years and new riders. Free parking for both facilities is at Station Gardens car park off Linton Road, LS22 6YR.