Minnesota bike park down to the wire for online grant contest

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A "big playground for bikes" is being built in the Twin Cities metro area, and the organizers who got it off the ground are hoping to win a $33,000 grant to help finish the project.

The specialized mountain bike park, located in a city park on the west side of Cottage Grove, is a finalist in a nationwide contest sponsored by the International Mountain Bicycling Association and Bell Helmets. It's competing against three other bike park and trail projects in the central region of the country for a share of $100,000 in grant money. The other projects are in Illinois, Indiana and Colorado.

The winner will be decided by popular vote on this website, and voting closes at midnight Sunday night. The winner will be announced on Monday. Some of the bike park's features will be ready for riders by the end of June, regardless of whether it wins the grant money.

Chance Glasford, a member of Minnesota Off-Road Cyclists, first pitched the idea of the park to Cottage Grove city leaders last year, the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports.

The city approved, and worked with Glasford on the location and design of the bike park. Then Glasford and some other bike enthusiasts began lining up sponsors, donations and volunteers. They started building last summer, WCCO reports.

When it's finished, the park will have six separate biking areas which will cater to people with different skill levels.

"This will put Cottage Grove on the map in the biking world," said Glasford, according to the Pioneer Press. "There is nothing like it in the Upper Midwest. It will be a regional draw."

Here's a video explaining more about the park.

The first phase of the park, which will open June 26, includes a BMX track with jumps and banked corners for up to eight racers.

It'll also have what's called a "pump track," which the Pioneer Press describes as an area of gentle hills that allows riders to propel themselves by pushing and swaying their bodies -- the way they would pump a swing to make it go back and forth -- rather than pedaling.

The second phase will include a tot track for younger riders and a bike-jumping area. That's expected to be finished later this summer.

The last phase has two other areas -- a "4X track" for four bikers to race each other on a downhill course; and a skills area with rocks, bridges and other obstacles, said the Pioneer Press.

The grant would pay for construction of the skills section, Glasford said, and it could be finished yet this year if the money comes through. The 4X track will likely be finished in the summer of 2015.

Either way, Cottage Grove's parks and recreation director, Zac Dockter, told the Pioneer Press the bike park will be an asset to the city.

"It's like a big playground for bikes," he said.

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