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Lompoc's River Bend Bike Park offers safe exercise alternative during coronavirus pandemic

Lompoc's River Bend Bike Park offers safe exercise alternative during coronavirus pandemic

Lompoc’s River Bend Bike Park is open for business as usual.

Everyone is welcome to come out for a ride — admission is free — and the public bike park is open every day from sunup to sundown, unless it rains.

After a brief rain-caused shutdown early in the week, the bike park re-opened Thursday afternoon.

“The recent rain was bad timing,” said Dave Baker, the Chairman of the Board of River Bend Bike Park. “We work hard to get in back in service quickly. We made drainage a high priority when we built the park and that allows us to re-open in about two days after a heavy rain.”

The park offers people the opportunity to get outside, get some exercise while practicing social distancing to help combat the spread of coronavirus.

“The bike park is built on five-and-a-half acres of land at the dead end on north A Street, across from the large soccer complex,” said Baker. “On any given day, you could be out there by yourself or be out with 20 other people but there’s enough space so you’ll never feel crowded.”

There is something for everyone, regardless of experience level.

“It is a multi-ability, progression-based bike park,” said Baker. “That means we have everything from a flat track for beginners still on training wheels up to a small mountain bike trail where riders can practice going over rocks or handling small changes in elevation.”

The complex has pump tracks where riders pump their way through the course instead of pedaling.

“You stand on your pedals and just use your arms to propel yourself through gently rolling hills,” said Baker. “Anyone can do this. The lower experienced riders may have to pedal a bit at first.

“We have a jump line, also for anyone from beginner to advanced that is also progression-based. On the jump line, you go for air — big air — and you can work on tricks and flips.”

There’s a wood ride feature that is similar to a gymnastics balance beam where beginners start on low, wide boards. As riders progress, they ride on boards that get thinner and higher.

“This is a safe environment, especially with the coronavirus, and it gives kids something to do that gets them off the streets,” said Baker. “There’s something for everybody, any age, from the casual to the extreme rider.

“We get people coming from the local counties — Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo — and from across the state. We’ve even had riders from Canada who are taking bike park tours of the state.”

It’s been 10 years since Baker began planning for the bike park.

“Growing up here, my friends and I could go out riding and racing on land that now has houses built on it and we needed something to replace that,” said Baker, a 1993 Lompoc High graduate and member of the Lompoc Fire Dept. “I got a team of volunteers together and we got to work. It took five years to plan and build the park, get the necessary permits and do the fundraising. It definitely was a community project built by the community, for the community. That’s what it’s all about.”

Now River Bend Bike Park is nearing a significant milestone — its fifth anniversary coming up in April.

“With the coronavirus, everybody has a personal responsibility to take care of themselves. Our bike park can help with the exercise part while allowing people to still keep a proper distance,” said Baker. “This is a safe, healthy option for people.”

A 10-member Board of Directors oversees all bike park operations, repairs, cleanup and maintenance.

And the board is always in need of extra volunteers and, since it’s a non-profit organizations, any donations.

“Volunteers are always welcome,” said Baker. “And we have a place for donations right at the park entrance. They can also make arrangements for donations online through Facebook (@RiverBendBikePark), Twitter (@RivrBndBikePark) or Instagram (lompocriverbendbikepark).”

For more information, call (805) 620-RIDE (7433), send an email to riverbendbikepark@gmail.com

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