This time next year Sechelt will be home to the only year-round mountain bike gravity park in the Pacific Northwest, able to offer a unique coastal experience.
Some of the park was secretly built during the past year by local mountain bike celebrities from the Coastal Crew: Dylan Dunkerton, Curtis Robinson and Kyle Norberton. The crew also enlisted help from rider Linden Feniak, local contractor Darren Hemstreet and machine operator Kane Boyce.
Coastal Crew is a sponsored group of downhill riders who have been building trails and filming their riding exploits around the world since 2008.
“Building something like this locally has definitely been a lifelong dream for us as the Coastal Crew,” said Dunkerton.
“When we’d go to Whistler we’d see all these things that we didn’t think were built right or were dangerous or were not fun and we thought we could do that better ourselves. So for us it was an obvious opportunity we had to jump on.”
The opportunity for the Coastal Crew came about after Hemstreet saw some potential in building a downhill trail network on Ray Stockwell’s 150-acre property in Sechelt Inlet.
“I used to work for Bill and his dad [Ray Stockwell] the odd time up on their property cutting trees down, running excavators and whatnot so I remembered that piece of property that they had up there,” Hemstreet said.
“So we got Bill and his dad together and Dylan and the Coastal Crew and we went and walked it and pretty much sealed the deal. Everyone was excited so we moved forward from there.”
Bill Stockwell said he was thinking about building a housing development on the site, which has been logged selectively in the past, but he found the idea of a mountain bike park more appealing.
“We see all the young people that have been moving away from here and my dad and myself really saw this as a great opportunity to create something special on the Coast that can provide jobs and inspiration for young people,” Bill Stockwell said.
“I see this putting Sechelt and the Sunshine Coast up there as one of the supreme bike destinations in the world.”
So far the Coastal Crew has laid out four trails ranging from beginner to advanced within the Stockwell property, currently accessed via a logging road at the top of Dusty Road.
About 10 community members have stepped up to become shareholders in the Coast Gravity Park, investing money and volunteer time to see the effort move forward.
The group plans to have up to six trails created and hopefully a bike lift installed at the Coast Gravity Park before it officially opens in the fall of 2014.
There will be a charge to ride the kilometers of expertly laid out trails but Dunkerton said it won’t cost more than what’s charged in Whistler.
Currently the Coast Gravity Park is holding a crowd funding event online looking for people to purchase passes before the park’s completion. Through the crowd funding day passes are selling for $50. Riders can also take advantage of a four-day pass for $120.
Jeff James, Coast Gravity Park project coordinator, said the crowd funding, set to end on Nov. 8 with a target of $100,000, is less about raising money than about assessing demand for the new gravity park.
“All of the information tells us that there is a great market demand but if you go and try to find ridership for Sun Peaks or for Silver Star or one of those mountains it’s really hard to find out what their customer count is,” James said.
“We said, ‘we’ll pre-sell lift passes and we’ll see how we do’ and we were blown away by the response in the first seven days.”
At press time the online funding had reached $33,048 with over 370 supporters.
That money will help fund the trail building effort, James said, noting more money will be needed down the road.
“At the end of the day we think we have a great product and we think that the industry and people passionate about mountain biking will recognize that it’s a great and unique product,” James said, noting it’s a “coastal experience at sea level.”
“These are the things that just aren’t available with the current inventory of mountain bike parks so we absolutely encourage anybody that’s passionate about resorts and mountain biking, we’d love to talk to them and share our vision and hear their vision. There’s lots of great opportunity in there. We’re not suggesting for a minute that we don’t need any help. We will need help, absolutely, but we think if we build something great like we have, that it’s imminent, that it will happen.”
Find out more online at www.coastgravitypark.ca.