The Bellingham waterfront is getting a bike pump track. When will it open to riders?

A mountain bike park, which will include a dirt pump track, on the waterfront is expected to be completed and ready for riders by mid-September.

Dirt shaping has begun at the former Georgia-Pacific property, which the Port of Bellingham is redeveloping as a 237-acre waterfront district.

The redevelopment is expected to take decades, and Port of Bellingham officials have said they wanted to bring the public to the area sooner rather than later.

The biking area will be across the way from Waypoint Park, known for its iconic acid ball, on Granary Avenue.

The Port of Bellingham has awarded a $128,140 contract to Oceanside Construction, which is based in the Bellingham area, to build the park with oversight by the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, according to Mike Hogan, spokesman for the Port.

The mountain bike park will include a 20,000-square-foot pump track, a single-track trail and a skills park, and the Port is paying for the soil that is being brought in to form all three.

The track will be built in front of the two orange-tiled tanks that were once used to store pulp.

construction beings on a bike pump track on the former Georgia-Pacific site on the waterfront in Bellingham. The track, set to be near the two orange-tiled tanks, is expected to open by mid-September 2019. It is part of an overall temporary mountain bike park. Lacey Young The Bellingham Herald

The entire bike area will be temporary, although it’s being built within the footprint of what will eventually be a new city park.

Shire Built, a sub-contractor, will build the pump track. It has worked on well-known local mountain bike projects that include the Mohawk Trail on Galbraith, the dirt jumps at Civic Athletic Complex and the Burlington Indoor Bike Park, according to Hogan.

Skills park geared to kids, beginners

A pump track is a looped circuit made up of berms, banked turns and rollers. The goal is to ride without pedaling but by pumping your body up and down to gain momentum.

Eric Brown, executive director for the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition, said the skills park will be geared toward kids and beginners.

There will be some pumps they can practice on and maybe some small drops, said Brown, who also is designing the skills area.

The idea is to allow riders to gain bike skills before they go onto the pump track or on other trails, Brown said.

Pump Track & Single Track Sidewalk Concept.jpg
A bike pump track will be built on the former Georgia-Pacific site on the waterfront in Bellingham, Wash. The track is expected to open by mid-September 2019. It is part of an overall temporary mountain bike park. Port of Bellingham Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

As for the single-track trail, Brown said to think of it as a pump trail that will get riders to the pump track.

The coalition, also known as the WMBC, is a trails and mountain bike advocacy group that also is involved with efforts to build bike pump tracks at Cordata Park and Birchwood Park. It also built the bike pump track at Whatcom Falls Park.

It had wanted to build a pump track on the G-P land back in 2015 and while the Port supported the idea, Brown said, the site wasn’t ready then.

“We want to see families and kids and adults having fun at the waterfront. I know it’s been a long time coming,” Brown said.

Pump track projects ‘take years to develop’

As for the other pump tracks around Bellingham, they took time.

“These projects seem to be happening really quickly for us right now but they take years to develop,” Brown said. “These are not overnight projects, far from it.”

As for the temporary nature of the bike features, Hogan explained:

“Part of the Port and city’s waterfront redevelopment partnership agreement, the Port is giving the city 33 acres of land to be developed into new waterfront parks as the site develops over time,” Hogan said.

The development of Waypoint Park is on part of the land.

“The temporary mountain bike park is being built on land which will eventually be developed into a large city park extending through the middle of the downtown waterfront,” Hogan said. “The timeline for building this large waterfront park has not been established and will depend on the pace of development, but it will likely be at least 10 years. “

“The Port is building a temporary mountain bike park to allow and encourage the community to actively use the waterfront in the interim,” Hogan said.

Learn more about the mountain bike park by going to the Whatcom Mountain Bike Coalition’s Facebook page.

Kie Relyea has been a reporter at The Bellingham Herald since 1997 and currently writes about social services and recreation in Whatcom County. She started her career in 1991 as a reporter and editor in Northern California.