The Rail Yard will see a new addition in 2019, and it’s going to be extreme. Construction of the Bike Yard, a sport-focused bike park, began this week.
The Bike Yard, located behind Pine Street Animal Hospital, will feature 2.5 acres of amenities for riders of all skill levels, and there will be activities within the course to allow riders to practice BMX, mountain, and flow riding styles. Plans for the course include a variety of trails at varying levels of difficulty, dirt jumps, and a pump track.
"It's more of an urban park, (and) I like that it's associated with the Mary Black Rail Trail," said John Darrohn, a partner and civil engineer with RideGarden, the group constructing the park. "I think it's going to help further alternative sports that may not be as popular. It's going to support a different community."
The park will also provide a more convenient practice spot for many BMX riders in the local and surrounding areas. Darrohn said the bike park would be the third in the Upstate, with similar parks located in Pickens and Traveler’s Rest. The new park will also offer another active play option for the Rail Yard, which is located in an area that was considered a “play desert” or a place where there are no play spaces within a 10-minute walk of the surrounding neighborhoods.
"(The Bike Yard) provides a place for families to come," said Laura Ringo, executive director of Partners for Active Living. "The great thing about this park is it will serve people who don't know much about off-road mountain biking and people who are pretty seasoned. It's going to serve all levels, but it really is targeted at older youth and getting them out and active."
The park, a collaboration between Partners for Active Living and the Coalition for Active Youth, was first proposed several years ago by the Coalition, shortly after they created the skate park, and was later incorporated into the plan for the Rail Yard.
“It’s been a long time coming,” said Coalition for Active Youth co-founder Vivian Jordan. “I’m just thrilled that we (and Partners for Active Living) were able to work together and keep the bike park on the Rail Trail. It’s been a long process and it’s going to be another really neat outdoor area for the youth of Spartanburg.”
The RideGarden and Longleaf Holdings crews are currently working on the first phase of the project, which will create a stick park for balance practice, rideable bioswale, and a drainage system of the jumps and pump track. Matt McClain, president of RideGarden, estimated that this phase would be complete in about four weeks.
"It's going to have the first ever rideable bioswale, which is a drainage water retention area," McClain said. "It's going to create a unique opportunity for some new kinds of features that have never been built before."
The group has raised $280,000 with $10,000 left to be raised for the second phase, which will bring in the course elements like the jumps, tracks and trails. Two fundraisers are planned to finish funding the Bike Yard, a UPS Golf Tournament in honor of Michael Lawter, a strong supporter of the bike park project, on Aug. 10 and BrewFest, which will take place in downtown Spartanburg Oct. 19.
The Bike Yard is scheduled to be completed in 2019, with the second phase starting in September.