Something new has been added to Fort Scott’s biggest park.
With no sign to designate the spot, it looks like piles of dirt on the south side of Park Avenue, just before entry to Gunn Park.
“It’s kind of evolving,” Fred Prather, one of the designers of the track said. “It needs bikes to pack it down.”
Prather, Shane Walker, and Frank Halsey started physical work on the new Gunn Park Trails Pump Track about four months ago.
“We’ve had the vision of a pump track since the land purchase,” Prather said. ” We wanted someplace to set up for the kids that was easy to access and spectator friendly. “
“The project was started last year, as a result of a grant from Timken (a local company), allowing for the purchase of the property,” said Frank Halsey.
Mid-Contenintal Restoration donated the dirt and the City of Fort Scott brought the dirt in.
Then the workers began piling into small hills with which to hone biking skills.
So, what is pump track racing?
“Pump track translates from the rider pumping the bike with his arm and legs to maintain and even create momentum,” Prather said.
To create the local Gunn Park Pump Track, Prather did his homework.
” For research I rode every pump, BMX and slopestyle course I could find in a 4-hour driving distance….well, there really isn’t that many, so it seemed like a perfect addition to our trail system, Gunn Park Trails, to draw in more riders.”
” It is loosely styled for BMX riding which stands for bicycle motocross, so when finished it will be wide enough to run 2-3 riders at a time in a head- to- head race.”
“I grew up riding BMX and ride mountain bikes now and I am involved with Gunn Park Trails and other bike projects in town,” Walker said.
“It is open to ride,” Walker said, “but we still have finish work to get done.”
“We will do improvements and additions to only increase the fun,” Prather said. “Things like adding obstacles called ‘skinnies’ to open areas where you can try riding along something 4-10 inches wide for a length of 10 foot, etc.”
” We also plan to construct ‘drop zones’ of progressing heights, where you effectively ride off a ramp to flat ground,” Prather said. “These are skills we commonly use on a mountain bike trail. It will be a place where it’s nice and open and you can practice and perfect technique. This not only improves your riding ability faster, it is also safer.”
There is a beginner course on the far south side of the property.
Eventually, there will be a sign with safety rules and “possible billboards behind the hills,” Prather said. “And grass will be sown on the side of the hills.” He also envisions bleachers for spectators.
” I’ve been involved with Gunn Park Trails since the beginning,” Prather said. “When you can get kids participating and excited about a project it’s a win, they tell their friends and family.”
“We started to feel a need for BMX style riding and to allow mountain bikers access to a pump track which is an activity becoming increasingly popular,” Shane Walker said.