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The Sunnyside Bike Park Community Build Day Was Huge Success

July 2, 2014
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Words by:  Judy-Lynn McGrath
Photos by: Chris Svirklys

The Sunnyside Bike Park was unofficially launched on Monday June 30th, during  the community build day. The original day was rained out.  An alternate day chosen however sketchy because it fell between a weekend and Canada Day.  But you know that old saying “build it and they will come” couldn’t have been more true.

Chris and I arrived an hour early and toured the site which was manned by the friendly Hoots work crew. The site was an amazing transformation compared to when we were there last.  An artistic network of wooden structures pieced together, and beautifully sculpted jumps were transformed from lumber and mountains of dumptruck dirt. The clay-base dirt and considered undesirable came from construction sites in the city. Hoots crew worked feverishly over 5 weeks to develop the raw material and the early results are astounding.

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As we entered the site  my eye spotted the skinny features that wove around trees and incorporated rocks and bridges. To our right was a dirt pump track, as well as an all weather pump track. We kept walking towards a massive vertical wooden wall ride structure. Perched on top securing a section was extraordinaire builder Paul Stuart. We gave a wave and proceeded to the hill with ominous wooden  launch pads of varying degree of height.  On the other side of the hill were table top jumps, again all progressive. From this high vantage point, I looked around, thinking that this park was like a biking oasis playground  nestled between the Gardiner Expressway and Lakeshore Boulevard

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After our first exploratory we were set to work where help was needed.  We assisted at the kids pump track, separating clumps of hard clay from the features , raking and shovelling the stuff into wheel barrows.  Soon, more volunteers began to arrive, by vehicle, foot and bike. Parents and their kids, young boys and men, girls and women. Within an hour or so we were 35 strong. The vibe was electric. Jay Hoots. the creator and director circulated and touched base with everyone while overseeing and lending a hand to all the work projects. Members of city of Toronto delivered more tools, chatted up ideas and aspirations with all volunteers. City councillor Sarah Doucette who strongly supports Sunnyside Bike Park also made an effort to chat and listen with everyone. Donated snacks and cold drinks that were personally delivered by Nelson of Cycle Solutions were wholeheartedly appreciated.

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As the time went on, and our tasks were rapping up, we gravitated to the big hill, watching from below as Jay and a work crew struggled to position a rock to anchor a jump. Thanks to Kelly’s common sense, the job was completed, (snicker). We then watched as Jay unofficially tested the jump. Soon a few more riders followed, and we “hooted” our jubilance. The Sunnyside Bike Park had it’s unofficial launch. Chris and I (and the 30 or so other volunteers) grabbed our bikes (which ranged from DJ park bikes, all-mountain, BMX and one cyclocross!). Initially, we observed as eveyone rode within their abilities… from the humongous jumps (in my humble opinion), hitting the series of gappers and wall ride, to the small, medium and large tabletops, both pump tracks and skinnies. The park was buzzing with excitement and smiling faces.

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Maybe it was my imagination but it seemed like the traffic on the Gardner magically slowed down as the riders hit their marks and sailed high over the mounds.  All I thought was that there are some people in those vehicles who probably have never seem anything like this. I wondered what they thought? I heard cars beeping and I hoped they were sounding their approval. Along the Lakeshore, people drove up, rolled down their car windows and asked us questions about the park.  The positive energy from the park seemed to spill out and grab the attention of the surrounding community.

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For about an hour, I tirelessly rode the skinnies and the pump track….and  I was so stoked and I can’t wait to return, maybe with a DJ bike. I felt my full suspension bike was just a bit sluggish however it was doable.

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Before we left we said our goodbyes and we wanted to personally thank Jay and let him know that this agonizing wait for this showcase park was worth every second and that the possibilities for growth are infinite. This “unofficial launch” will not diminish, any future launches because everyone’s impression will be unique.  I truly believe this bike park will be a community hub for riders of all ages and abilities… and there’s more to come.

Judy-Lynn was an avid road cyclist before being introduced first to mountain biking in 2007 and then downhill in 2009. She claims it was a steep learning curve but others would disagree when they see her shredding gnarr on DH and diverse trails in Ontario and Quebec. Besides riding many kilometers “year round”, she and husband Chris (who is an accomplished rider) devote many hours doing volunteer work such as trail building, trail maintenance and advocacy.

4 Comments

  1. Looking forward to checking this place out! I just hope the city plans to maintain it, unlike other attempts in the past that have laid to waste.

  2. Fantastic write up Judy and Chris. I was super choked when the original build was cancelled and then reschedule for what was a long weekend for many! Grrrrr
    However, your account and pictures made me feel like I was there. This is a long time coming for Toronto – great to see so many familiar ( and new) faces in the photos.

    As for maintenance it would seem like the city has a great start on a stewardship group with 35 people present for the 1st build. I am sure once the park is up and running the momentum will only build. Training for the volunteers and support (e.g., tools and water) should pretty much run itself.

    Can’t wait to put tires ( and shovel next time) to dirt!

  3. The stewardship group is a great start. But it will need a more than that as the opportunity for the site to grow is great. I think it can be a real important hub not only for the park riders but other cyclists in the city due to it’s location to the Martin Goodman Trail and the lower Humber River trails.

  4. looks like an amazing place! Have to check it out some day for sure!

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