Volunteers start building Red Rock free-ride area

       A ladder bridge, the first structure in the long-awaited free-ride bicycle area at Red Rock Canyon Open Space, began taking shape last weekend. Tony Orr, who is helping lead the volunteer planning and construction effort, said the structure will be among several that his group hopes to have ready for public use by the end of July. Madison Dayhoff, eager to try her bicycle on the Red Rock Canyon Open Space’s free-ride area, grins up at a 
photographer shooting from a rock formation while construction continues around her on the ladder bridge that is the area’s first stunt to be built.
Westside Pioneer photo
       The location is the lower part (Phase 1) of what will eventually be a 3-acre free-ride area east of the Greenlee Trail, near the new Red Rock parking lot.
       Among about a dozen volunteer workers July 1 were teenage riders Hunter Hoover and brothers Tommy and Kevin Kimmell. Each spoke of taking pride in contributing sweat equity to an area they plan to use extensively, with Tommy mentioning a logical motivation: “So we can get it done sooner.”
       Free riding is an off-road bicycling sport in which obstacles are deliberately placed to challenge the riders. These can include structures, as well as large rocks, drop- offs and other natural features.
       Responding to advocacy from local cyclists, Colorado Springs Parks set aside the free-ride area when it approved the Red Rock Canyon Open Space Master Plan two years ago. However, the sport's proponents had to come up with the plans, the money and the construction effort.
       This reality has led to some delays. Orr and others had once hoped to have the lower part open by last summer, but the city needed detailed engineering plans, and the group's volunteer engineer could not always squeeze the work into his schedule, Orr explained.
       Funding has also been a struggle. “We're raising money, but it's not enough,” he said. “We're going to kind of do it as it goes.”
       The long-range plan designates the lower area basically for beginning riders. It will eventually have about 15 stunts, including several ladder bridges, “along with a couple of teeter totters, balance beams, a horizontal log stack called a corduroy, and a multileveled drop box,” Orr said. “There will be multiple variations of all of these technical features.”
       Farther up the hill in the 3-acre area will be Phases 2 and 3, in which the stunts will get increasingly more challenging to attract more experienced riders, according to plans.
       Few official free-ride areas exist anywhere, and Red Rock's is believed to be the first to go into a park anywhere along the Front Range.
       Anyone wanting to help with the work can contact Orr by e-mail at tony@hp.com.

Westside Pioneer article