Blazing the Trail for Rider Education

We were doing some after-school pavement riding—and, I love mountain biking—so I thought, what if? What if we cut a trail through the woods and expose kids to mountain biking?
Rick Armstrong
PhysEd Teacher at Granby Elementary & Gators Bike Park Visionary

Birth of a Bike Park

In August of 2013, after meeting with a Central Ohio Mountain Bike Organization (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 hatchets to create a small bike trail. Once the path was cleared, Gators Bike Park hosted a preview with the Columbus Dispatch right there to cover the story! A few months later, 100 students braved the cold blustery day to attend the Grand Opening of Gators Bike Park.  Principal Schlaegel from Granby Elementary “cut” the ceremonial ribbon by pedaling a bike through it! 

Build, Ride, & Maintain

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 Gators Bike Park has always strived to put shovels in the hands of the kids who visit and ride our trails. Volunteers are the heart and soul of Gators Bike Park and the time they put into our trail system is vital. Ongoing trail days provide a safe riding environment along with adding challenging features and rideable skill builders along the path. 

Rider Education

With a bike park in the front yard, Granby Elementary School began offering programs to get kids on bikes.  What started as extracurricular programs like riding recess, after-school balance bike clubs, and bike clinics soon became part of the PhysEd curriculum at Granby!

Birth of a Bike Team

But the demand for rider education came from beyond just Granby and Worthington.  The Gators Bike Park Race Team (now Gators Bike Team) was formed in the summer of 2017 to educate young shredders all over central Ohio on proper technique.  Completely unaware of how big the team would end up being, Coach Armstrong & Coach Bertin, along with Boo from who served as our “Team Mom”, expected a small team of interested riders. 63 riders of all ages signed up that first year! They rode, learned, raced, and cheered together as a team. The inaugural season was a huge success thanks to the many hands offering help and the numerous parents volunteering in so many ways. And thus, the Gators motto was born:

Gators Bike Park Evolution

Phase 1: Skills Loop

As the hand-built features of the original bike trail started to deteriorate, they were replaced with professional bike features including Stonehenge, Snake Ladder Bridge, and more.

Phase 2: Flow Trail

In 2017, the size of the bike park doubled, thanks to the construction of the bike bridge over a drainage ditch and partnership with Columbus Recreation & Parks. The new trail was cut through hills and tall grasses to give riders a flowy, rollercoaster experience. In 2019, with the help of two massive wood berms were added to give the trail even more flow.

Phase 3: Pump Track

After years of planning and fundraising from countless Strong Spokes, Gators Bike Park installed a brand new modular pump track and signage in 2022.  

This expansion project is still underway with other family-friendly amenities going in as more sponsors sign on and as resources allow.

Ice Cream Sundae Anyone?

Just like an ice cream sundae offers many different flavors, a well-built bike park offers a variety of riding experiences. Gators Bike Park offers visitors a feature-filled Skills Loop, a Flow Trail, and a Pump Track. Each section of the park provides a great riding experience that will challenge riders in unique ways.

And speaking of ice cream sundaes… 

Gators LOVE to throw two-wheeled parties!

Gators Bike Park has hosted a slew of events over the years such as IMBA’s Take a Kid Mountain Biking Day, Strider Fast Laps races, BikeFest, fundraisers, and the annual Swamp Dash. Past events have featured music, prizes, food, portable features in the grass bowl, balance biking for younger riders, giveaways, bounce houses, free tune ups by , and of course trail riding!

Follow Gators Bike Park on social to get updates on future two-wheeled parties!