This coming February, the East Bay area of California is about to get its first public bike park. Called Dirt World, this 2.1-acre area will host a pump track, BMX track, jumps and other obstacles. The park will also include a garden, gathering areas and storage for bikes and equipment that will be used for community and youth programs.
The vision for Dirt World began back in 2015 with the completion and success of a pump track in Richmond’s John F. Kennedy Park. When the pump track quickly became a magnet for local riders of all ages, its creators began to think bigger, and planning for a full-blown bicycle skills park aimed towards both mountain bikers and BMX riders began.
Dirt World was the brainchild of Jasmine Malabed and Dennis “D2” Hoskins, founders of the Dope Sauce Bike Club, a grassroots program that introduces city kids to cycling. Other local organizations quickly became involved after hearing about the idea, including Rich City Rides (a nonprofit org dedicated to improving Richmond’s physical and economic health through cycling), Richmond BMX (a loose collection of BMX and street riders) and Richmond Friends of Recreation.
A collection of members of these organizations and more formed a steering committee to make the project happen, bringing together people of all different backgrounds to work together for the good of the community. The committee secured permission to build on 2.1 acres of land along the Richmond Greenway that was, at the time, an abandoned empty lot littered with garbage and choked with weeds. Now, the Dirt World crew has removed the weeds and trash and brought in several tons of dirt, which will be sculpted into jump lines and other features by Alex Fowler and his crew at Action Sports Construction beginning on February 1.
Steering committee member A.C. Thompson is thrilled to see the project moving forward. “We’re creating a great spot for mountain biking and BMX right in the heart of the city. There are very few bike parks in urban areas – most are in suburbs or more rural places or resort areas. So Dirt World is something of a pioneering project.” He also adds, “Here in Richmond, there are a lot of folks who don’t have the means to get out of town and into the mountains. Dirt World is bringing the terrain to them and creating a new outdoor oasis. The park is accessible by subway, which is very cool.”
Thompson is convinced that the park will be a huge benefit to the local community. “The park will be a boon to riders all over the Bay Area, but for people in this community, it’s really special. This is not a wealthy place. We are in desperate need of more park space. We need more recreational opportunities for our kids and adolescents. Dirt World will help get them off the couch and into a healthy, challenging sport.”
Construction on the main area of the park is expected to take about a month, with a projected opening date at the end of February, barring wet weather conditions that may slow down progress.
Once open, the park will be used to host riding clinics for all ages, including girls-and-women-specific ride days, family ride events and dirt jump jams. “Richmond is also getting its first high school MTB team, so Dirt World can be a skills center for them, as well as local BMX racers,” adds Thompson.
Monetary support for the project has come from Title Nine Sports Apparel, various Richmond-based recreation organizations, several high school mountain bike teams and plenty of private donations. The Dirt World team is still looking for donations to cover construction costs, park amenities such as benches and picnic tables, and bikes and equipment to be used for community cycling programs for kids and adults who don’t have the means to have their own cycling gear.
You can learn more about the plans for Dirt World and how you can help out here.
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