Bike Park : Yay or Nay


Ellie Chase

“Stop Bike Ranch” sign positioned next to Shadow Mountain Drive. “Living on Shadow Mountain we’re already pretty familiar with the safety concerns and people driving too fast,” Hood said. The sign serves as a reminder to drive safely, and consider signing the petition to stop the bike park.

     In the past few months, Conifer residents have noticed “Stop Bike Ranch” signs propped on the sides of many local roads.  A bike park has been proposed to be built on Shadow Mountain. For biking enthusiasts, the park will be a great place to exercise their sport, but the effects on the neighborhood could be detrimental.

     “It will be the first of its kind. No one has ever built one from the ground up. All other downhill bike parks in America are on top of ski resorts.” Co-Founder of Full Send Bike Ranch, Phil Bouchard, said. 

     Bouchard and longtime friend, Jason Evans, are the founders of Full Send Bike Ranch. Originally from New Hampshire, they have come to Conifer to share their favorite sport. Conifer is already a hotspot for the growing mountain bike population, with Staunton and Buffalo Creek being just one of the many great trail systems in the area. However, there are no mountain bike specific trails, even more specifically no downhill trails, close by.

     “The bike ranch will include a lift, a small shop where you can buy t-shirts or hats, a 300 car parking lot, and trails,” Bouchard said. “We plan to start construction in 2022, have something rideable in 2023, and have it complete by 2024.”

     The park will be beneficial to many residents of the Conifer area, including the Conifer High School Mountain Bike Team. 

     “It will be a great place for racers to refine their downhill technique.” Mountain Bike Coach and citizen on Shadow Mountain, Jereme Wehr, says, “Personally, I’m all for it, I’ll make my daughter work there in the summers.”

      It would be a great place for the bike team to advance their skills, and further promote their sport. It would also employ lots of other people in the community as well.

     “Fingers crossed our plan gets through so we can get this thing started.” Bouchard said. 

     But while some people anxiously await the construction of the park, others are doing anything and everything they can do to stop it. 

     “The biggest thing is the increased traffic, and the concern is that it could bring upwards of 700 cars a day. Living on Shadow Mountain were already pretty familiar with safety concerns and people driving too fast, ” Shadow Mountain Resident and Environmental Committee Member, Robert Hood, said. “When you add that many people to the mix, it’s only going to get that more dangerous.”

     Shadow Mountain has many roads that cover its face, and most are narrow and winding. Accidents are frequent, and Hood worries that they will increase with the new park. He believes that the demand for medical attention on the roads and for the bike accidents themselves would delay the time that could be spent tending to other emergencies in the area.

     “We think 700 cars is an exaggeration. I mean maybe it could reach 700 on peak days in the summer.” Bouchard says. 

     The team says they are currently working on an in depth traffic- survey to predict how the park will impact the roadways. 

     “The frustrating part about this is that the developers are using state land, so they don’t have to pay property taxes, so they’re not directly funding our emergency services,” Hood said. “They’re kind of getting a free pass, and they’re not really paying their fair share, especially since they will need these services.”

     Along with the safety of the community, Hood also fears for the safety of the environment.

     “They’re going to cut a lot of the trees down, and a lot of sediment will wash down and affect the quality of the street.” Hood said.

     For biking enthusiasts, it would be a great place to practice and enjoy the sport, while also meeting other people that love biking as well. It would also promote biking to new riders or kids, and participating in the sport is a great way to build strength and confidence. The bike park could help to create a bonding activity that could make the community a healthier, happier place. 

     But it could also increase the road accidents, and endanger the safety of Conifer’s residents. It would also damage the serene forest environment and the diversity of animal life that makes the community so special.

     “It’s either gonna be approved or not approved.” Hood said. “But it’s going to happen soon.”