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Hardy Kids continue upgrading Wilmington bike park

Pictured here are some of the new features installed at the Wilmington bike park this summer. (Provided photo — Hardy Kids Mountain Bike Race)

WILMINGTON — Improvements continue here at the town’s mountain bike park, known as Randy’s Bike Park.

Throughout the past few years, as Wilmington has slowly become a destination for mountain biking, two local kids and a small group of volunteers have been working on transforming a local park into a feature-packed mountain bike park.

Charlie Wilson and Henry Loher, who both entered seventh grade this year and founded the Hardy Kids Mountain Bike Race a few years ago, are behind the initiative.

Wilson and Loher have been biking for years. When they were in fourth grade, the duo pitched organizers of the 2017 Wilmington Mountain Bike Festival the idea of adding a mountain bike race for kids on the Hardy Road trails. Festival organizers liked the idea and agreed to add the race to the festival’s schedule.

Wilson and Loher raised money for the Barkeaters Trails Alliance (BETA) through that race.

“After the first year, they started thinking about making improvements to the bike park,” said Josh Wilson, executive director of BETA. “I really wanted to empower them to see that the money they raised could be used for something. That’s when they started working on the stuff that’s happened over the years.”

This past summer, what was once a recreation park nestled behind the town’s only gas station was transformed into an enclave for mountain bikers, replete with a pump track — a course made with uneven, strategically placed hills of dirt — a balance beam, rollers and wooden ramps.

The kids used their summer vacation this year to continue their work. They’ve added an area where beginners can practice balancing, a technical course, a teeter-totter and a step-up — essentially a wooden ledge that bikers ride off of — with three new drops. They also added two picnic tables and a whale’s tail, essentially a wooden ramp with large bumps.

On Aug. 31, the Hardy Kids MTB Race Facebook page announced that Phase 2 of the bike park had been completed, including the whale’s tail, “appropriately placed in the old town pool.”

“It was a great feeling to see how many people, of all abilities, were using the pump track and bike skills park over the past few weeks while we were working there,” the Facebook page stated. “If you see any of these guys around town please thank them for all of their help/support so we could finish this phase: Roy, Louie, John, Eric, Brett, Travis, Don, Bill and Brandy. … Thanks to Charlie, Henry and Ella for their designs and hard work.”

On to Phase 3.

All of the features were built using downed trees in the park. Former town Highway Superintendent William Skufca Jr. milled the lumber for the kids. The rest was paid for through proceeds raised from the Hardy Kids Mountain Bike Race at the Wilmington Mountain Bike Festival, according to Wilson.

“We were hoping to do the race again this year, but the bike festival got canceled, so we couldn’t,” Wilson said. “We’ll do it next year, hopefully.”

As the coronavirus continues to spread and public health organizations are promoting outdoor, socially distant activities as a safer option over indoor activities, Wilson said he’s been seeing more people out enjoying the park than normal.

“When we were out there, during the first month of quarantine, there were so many people it was hard to ride without getting in someone’s way or someone getting in your way,” Wilson said. “It felt nice to get it all finished so everyone could ride it. It was a lot better with all of the new features. And we like to ride it a lot.”

Wilson said there’s more to come at the park. At some point, he hopes to build a kiosk where bikers will be able to repair their bikes and access information about the town and nearby trails.

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(Lake Placid News Editor Andy Flynn contributed to this report.)