Ever since Felix first learned how to ride a bike, he has wanted to ride paths through trees, do jumps, and ride down hills. Every time we haul out the bikes in the spring, he always asks if we can build a couple of ramps so he can practice his jumps. While I’m not against the idea of constructing a few ramps for our driveway, I also know that we live on a busy street. Combine that with his 2 year old brother copying everything Felix does (but only having a 2 year old sense of consequence)and it means that for now, in my mind, the potential dangers rule out the possibility of building the neighbourhood’s best bike park outside our front door. That said, I still want my boys to experience the joy of riding their bikes and the feeling of excitement when you fly over a jump. This is where the Chestermere Bike Park comes in.
In 2008 the Chestermere Bike Park was the brain child of the Youth Encouraging Lasting Leadership group. They wanted a recreational option for kids and youth in their community and so they began researching and fundraising, and with the help of local businesses, charities, and the Town of Chestermere they were able to bring that dream to life in 2015. I can safely say that both my boys and I are incredibly thankful that they did. The bike park itself covers about 4 acres and it has a large pump track, a skills loop, a variety of flow trails, benches, a bathroom, picnic tables and garbage and recycling bins. Check out the bike park map to see everything it has to offer.
The Chestermere bike park is a 30 minute drive from where we live in west Calgary. When we got there it was a cloudy, cold Thursday morning. I had picked a cold day in hopes that there wouldn’t be a lot of people since it was Felix and Max’s first time in a bike park. We lucked out and we had the whole place to ourselves, except for Justin, who works for the town maintaining the park. Felix and Max started on the pump track and worked their way up to the beginner flow trail. Halfway through our visit, Felix’s bike chain came off. This was a crushing blow for a 5 year old who wanted to keep on riding. I tried to get my fingers under his chain guard and get his chain back on but I couldn’t do it without a screwdriver (which I didn’t bring with me). Thankfully Justin came to our rescue. He got out some tools from his backpack and quickly got Felix’s chain back on and working properly. Justin also explained to Felix what kind of bike was best for the park and how to do a jump. Felix was thrilled and I was extremely grateful for his help (THANK YOU JUSTIN!). After thanking Justin, Felix quickly jumped back on his bike. Both boys were elated that we didn’t have to go home just yet and for the next 2 1/2 hours, all I heard was laughter, “watch me Mom!”, and “can we go again?”.
From start to finish, I was amazed to watch their confidence and bike skill level bloom before my eyes. Felix learned that you have to pedal hard and get your speed up to make it up the next little hill on the pump track. Max learned that dirt and gravel can be slippery and that he can’t just crank his handle bars to the side to turn when he is going fast. Both of them had an absolute blast, and for the 30 minute drive home all they were talking about is the jumps they had made, the falls they had, and when could they go back. If you have kids who love to bike, it is worth the drive out there. I know we will definitely be back.