Chad DeMers is a man on a mission. An avid mountain biker, he wants to make biking accessible to as many Corvallisites as possible, especially kids. Corvallis’ little-known BMX park at the end of SE Chapman Place in Southtown has been around since the early 80s, but when DeMers found it, it desperately needed updating.
“Pretty much the expert level of riders have taken it over so that all there is are dangerous gap jumps,” he said. “I moved to town three years ago and I found the bike park and it was in serious disrepair. So I’ve been wanting to form a group and do maintenance on it for years.”
DeMers envisions a future where bike tracks are as common as playgrounds.
“What I really want is two or three locations. Kids need to get on their bikes and they need exercise. So I would like a location in north Corvallis, in Martin Luther King Park. Anywhere that there is a swing set, or a jungle gym, there should be a bike trail next to it.”
Since September, he has been spending much of his free time making improvements on the park, especially making it more accessible for families with younger kids. But unfortunately, the future of the BMX park is shaky without vocal citizen support. Without more people advocating for the park, the city is stymied in how much it can help. There are currently no funds for improvements, and all work is done by volunteers rallied by DeMers.
In time, DeMers hopes to emulate the Benton County Skateboarding Alliance, which has successfully raised the profile of skateboarding here in town. For now, though, he’s focusing on upgrading the park Corvallis already has. The plan DeMers designed offers intermediate and expert jump lines, a pump track, beginner trails, and an outer loop. The beginner trail (kiddie track) is already complete and the park is open for use.
To help support the bike park, get in touch with the Corvallis Bike Parks Coalition on Facebook or Team Dirt, the local chapter of the International Mountain Bicycling Association. In the meantime, go check it out! From Highway 99, turn east onto SE Chapman Place (on the north side of First Alternative Co-op) and turn left onto the dirt road. There’s ample parking, and even earth and cement grandstands for watching the bikers on the tracks.
by Mica Habarad