TrailGators Booster Association is a non-profit 501(c)(3) formed as a community volunteer effort to enhance student health and wellness education; to improve the neighborhood by adding a safe and attractive public recreation space; to encourage children to spend their free time in healthy exercise and play; and to discourage delinquency in local youth by giving them safe and healthy recreation alternatives.
TrailGators is partnering with Worthington Schools and Columbus Recreation and Parks to create, improve, and maintain a public outdoor bicycle park with the entrance off of a shared parking area with Granby Elementary School:
The Gators Bike Park
1490 Hard Road
Columbus OH 43235-1992
Gators Bike Park started as a small idea back in August of 2013; to offer a traffic-free space for kids to ride their bikes in the woods. Our mission and vision from the very start has always been to get kids “off the couch and into the seat”; introducing kids to a lifetime sport and activity, and providing a free and exciting recreational area to all who are interested. Since 2013, Gators Bike Park has grown into a park that has been credited for giving many youth their very first experience on a bike; teaching kids to ride a pedal bike for the first time ever, helped literally hundreds of kids gain confidence in their riding skills, and given young riders tips and techniques to help them enjoy trail riding safely. Our growth has included more features to ride in phase 1’s skills loop, the addition of phase 2’s flow trail including 2 wood-banked berms, and the development of a kids race team that includes more than 100 team members who ride and race over the summer. Although we are very proud of all that we’ve done thus far, we continue to look forward to the future!
Currently, we are working extremely hard behind the scenes with Columbus Recreation and Parks to open Phase 3: a modular pumptrack! Once this addition is funded and installed, we will be able to give park visitors three very unique riding experiences right here in Central Ohio! Phase 3 will be an extremely large undertaking and it will take a lot of STRONG SPOKES to make this dream a reality. If you would like to donate through a sponsorship or offer talents or services, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us! As STRONG SPOKES supporting the WHEEL, all contributions help us continue to grow this dream into something truly special for families and surrounding communities.
Click the link below for a picture tour of the six-year history of Gators Bike Park! From the very first pictures ever taken at Gators to the bike park expansions and bike team, we are happy to share some of the pictures from benchmark events that have occurred at “The Swamp“!
The Birth of a Bike Park
In August of 2013, after meeting with a COMBO master trail builder and with permission from Worthington City Schools, a small team of elementary teachers took to a scrap piece of woods with axes and hatches to create a small bike trail. With the motto “From the Couch to the Seat”, GBPark opened with the Columbus Dispatch right there to cover the story! The a few months later, on a cold blustery day with almost 100 students in attendance, Gators Bike Park held its Grand Opening complete with Principal Schlaegel cutting the ceremonial ribbon by pedaling a bike through it! Since then GBP has been host to numerous bike programs such as Granby’s riding recess program, after school balance bike clubs, and bike clinics along with continuous interest and support from the surrounding community.
Build, Ride, & Maintain Motto
There is something special about building and maintaining the trails you ride. It instills a sense of pride and accomplishment within oneself. That is why GBP has always strived to put shovels in the hands of the kids who visit and ride our trails. Volunteers are the heart and sole of Gators Bike park and the time they put into our trail system is vital. Ongoing trail days insure a safe riding environment along with adding challenging features and rideable skill builders along the path. One constant battle that Gators has is flooding, giving it the nickname “The Swamp”. The spillover from rain empties from the parking lot directly into the bike park causing flooding and unridable conditions. To help find a solution to this problem, GBP partnered up with Green Apple to BUILD a rain garden that would catch the spill over and contain it until it could properly drain. The addition of the rain garden has had an immense positive effect on keeping the trails dry but occasional downpours still cause flooding in the park. Another BUILD project that has given GBPark access to more trails and has more than doubled the size of the bike park was the addition of the bike bridge. With the Rogers family overseeing the project, and securing donations, finding resources and machinery to help with the build, and countless volunteer hours, Gators now has a top-notch bike bridge! This 2-lane bridge was built over a drainage ditch and, with a partnership with Columbus Recs and Parks, now leads trail users directly to phase 2’s Flow Trail. A properly built flow trail offers users a “rollercoaster” experience as they whoop and swoosh up and down hills. At the time of this article, and with the help of Rizek Construction, 2 wood berms are under construction and will soon offer riders a banked berm slingshot sensation as they head back up the flow trail hill.
Bike Park Parties & Events
At Gators Bike Park, there is nothing better than seeing kids bouncing in and out of the trail with whoops and shouts of glee! That’s why we like to hold bike parties as often as possible! GBP has hosted a slew of events such as IMBA’s Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, Strider Fast Laps races, BikeFest, and the annual Swamp Dash. At these events you can find Gator Bowl portable features to ride, music, prizes, food, balance biking for younger riders, giveaways, free tune ups by Wheelie Fun Bike Shop, and of course trail riding! Bike events are a large part of why we do what we do and a time to celebrate kids on bikes!
Education Embedded in Our Mission
As the demands for more biking opportunities continued, along with the desire to educate young shredders on proper technique, Gators Bike Park Race Team was created in the summer of 2017. Completely unaware of how big the team would end up being, Coach Armstrong & Coach Bertin, along with Boo from Wheelie Fun Bike Shop who served as our “Team Mom”, 63 riders of all ages, from all over Central Ohio rode, learned, raced, and cheered together as one team. Our inaugural season was a huge success thanks to the many hands offering help and the numerous parents volunteering in so many ways. Our 2017 season was where our team motto was born: “STRONG SPOKES support the WHEEL”!
“STRONG SPOKES support the WHEEL”
There are many slogans underscoring the importance of team over individuals. “BIG TEAM, little me”, “There is no “I” in “TEAM”, “Surrender the ME, for the WE” to name a few. We embrace this team mentality in bike anatomy! Not much can be done with a single spoke, however when many spokes work together towards a common goal big things go around! Gators Bike Park teams (kids race team, the TrailGators non-profit, trail crew, etc.) subscribe to this motto and hang our helmets on this mantra. At Gators we don’t shy away from lofty goals and aspirations. We also recognize that to do great things it takes many SPOKES that are quick to jump in and offer support!
Phase 3’s Pump Track
A prime example of STRONG SPOKES supporting the WHEEL is the vision of installing phase 3: The Dave Andrews’ Modular Pump Track! Gators has worked behind the scenes with Columbus Recs and Park for multiple years on providing central Ohio a state-of-the-art recreational pump track within GBPark. This free recreational space will be open to any and all folks and will honor a wonderful Worthington community member in the process.
Ice Cream Sunday Anyone?
Just like an ice cream Sunday offers many different flavors, a well-built bike park offers varying riding styles. With the addition of DrewsTrak modular pumptrack, GBPark will be able to offer visitors a feature filled Skills Loop, a Flow Trail, and a pumptrack. Each of these phases will offer great riding experiences that will challenge each rider in various ways. We have thoroughly enjoyed the journey thus far and the people we have met along the way, but we also feel that we’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg as to where the Gators Bike Park project can go!