Wednesday August 18, 2021
Just when you thought Starkey Ranch couldn’t get any more invigorating, we decided to build a bike park! Grab your helmet and your bike, this progressive bike park will offer trails, hills, and more for an exhilarating off-road cycling adventure. The park will open in Fall 2021 and we’re excited to offer residents of all ages another way to connect with nature, spend quality time with family, and learn a new skill they can enjoy for years to come.
We spoke with the bike park’s designer, Mike Cole of Natural Trailbuilding, for more details on what to expect from a bike park. Cole is an experienced off-road cyclist and passionate about preserving Florida’s natural environment. With the Starkey Ranch bike park, Mike Cole’s goal was to design accessible and fun trails that encourage learning and family bonding.
“The idea is to have it progressive so people can learn,” shares Cole. The bike park will have 3 distinct areas for off-road cycling ranging from beginner to advanced.
The first area is designed for young children on push bikes and balance bikes who are just starting out. This area will be known as Snake Run, with trails designed to resemble slithering snakes. “This is the first time that’s been done anywhere,” explains Cole. To his knowledge, Starkey Ranch will be the only bike park in Florida to have such unique customization.
The second trail area next to Snake Run will be slightly more advanced, but still family-friendly. Children and adult riders on pedal bikes can learning the basics of off-road cycling such as pedaling, cornering, and braking.
The third area is intended for advanced cyclists, but is also diverse enough that anyone can roll through at their own speed if they wish to. Adventurous riders will be able to learn to jump on elevated trails and work on their technical skills in this area of the park. “Off-road cycling is a lifelong sport,” says Cole. “Parents, grandparents, kids can ride all together. The great thing is you can ride a bike at any age. It’s really getting popular because of that.”
Eventually the goal is to form a resident-led bike club and host clinics at the bike park, offering residents a unique opportunity to learn bike control and other helpful skills from professional riders and local organizations like Florida Freeriders. As Cole states, “It’s a lot easier to learn from professionals than learn on your own.” The bike park will offer residents a space to increase their skills and love of the sport close to home, before heading out to explore other areas like neighboring Jay B. Starkey Wilderness Park, where SWAMP Mountain Bike Club maintains an expanding network of trails perfect for off-road adventures.
Another cool aspect of the bike park and trail system? In keeping with Starkey Ranch’s connection to nature, Natural Trailbuilding is creating the bike park only using hand tools (instead of heavy machinery) and all trails will be made using natural materials like lime rock and red clay. This method has a lower environmental impact and it looks stunning!
By the fall, the park will be open and buzzing with activity, and we can’t wait to offer Starkey Ranch residents another exciting outdoor space that brings new neighbors and family together. Until then, you can follow along at @naturaltrailbuilding on Instagram for sneak peeks, behind the scenes updates, and more from Mike!