Photos by Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire
                                The Juneau Mountain Bike Alliance and City and Borough of Juneau are collaborating to finish a new pump track for bicycle riders in Cope Park, due to be finished within weeks.

Photos by Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire The Juneau Mountain Bike Alliance and City and Borough of Juneau are collaborating to finish a new pump track for bicycle riders in Cope Park, due to be finished within weeks.

Outdoors pump track work is ramping up

Cope Park is about to have a new way to keep entertained.

A pump track for bicycling in Cope Park is heading toward completion as workers shape material for the rolling, sinuous course weaving between the trees.

“The design of this track was tricky,” said Juneau Mountain Bike Alliance Vice President Reid Harris in an interview. “We were able to stretch it about 30 feet to go around some trees. We let the natural topology and biology dictate the design.”

A pump track is designed for users to traverse by using up and down body motions to push them over the hills and curves, rather than peddling, Harris said. Typical pump tracks are created in flat empty spaces, but Juneau’s environment requires designers to work the course between the trees of the park.

Reid Harris, vice president of the Juneau Mountain Bike Alliance, holds the basic plans for the new pump track being built at Cope Park on Sept. 16, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

Reid Harris, vice president of the Juneau Mountain Bike Alliance, holds the basic plans for the new pump track being built at Cope Park on Sept. 16, 2020. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire)

“The ground wasn’t entirely flat so we had to grade it,” Harris said. “You hand shape it, wet it down and pound it with the machine.”

The track is created using fill dredged from the basin of Gold Creek as part of an unrelated project and recycled asphalt product, or RAP. The course required RAP, reclaimed from an old runway, because Juneau’s healthy amount of rainfall would wash out anything less compactable, Harris said.

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“It probably would have been built a little earlier in the summer but we had our hands filled,” said City and Borough of Juneau’s Parks and Recreation deputy director Michele Elfers in a phone interview. “That timing worked out because that’s the material (from the basin dredging) we’re using for the base.”

Whitney Parks, a member of Juneau’s COVID Conservation Corps, chops logs Wednesday as she helps with the construction of the new pump track at Cope Park.

Whitney Parks, a member of Juneau’s COVID Conservation Corps, chops logs Wednesday as she helps with the construction of the new pump track at Cope Park.

The city contributed $5,000 from its capital improvement project budget, a welcome addition to the JMBA, who raised the majority of money from donations, Harris said. JMBA’s contribution to the project will likely be about $15,000, Harris said, which was only possible because of people’s willingness to lend a hand voluntarily. COVID Conservation Corps members — a program established by the city to put people to work amid the pandemic and funded by federal coronavirus relief money — have also taken part in clearing a tree that had to be removed.

“It’s been a great collaborative project. Lots of volunteers have been showing up. The only way to do it so cheap was with volunteer labor,” Harris said. “The CCC crew has been super helpful.”

Members of the Juneau Mountain Bike Alliance check the progress of the new pump track against the plans.

Members of the Juneau Mountain Bike Alliance check the progress of the new pump track against the plans.

Other organizations, such as SJS Excavation, have donated the use of equipment, a small digger which has helped immeasurably with the project, Harris said. Capital City Fire/Rescue also assisted the project by loaning them the equipment to use a fire hydrant as a water source to help wet down the material as they’re shaping it, Harris said.

The park will be open for use within a few weeks, Harris said. Riders are discouraged from using the track until then, as any wear on the track before it’s fully formed will require remedial action and will stretch out the completion date.

Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at 757-621-1197 or mlockett@juneauempire.com

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