Lalley: Fat bikes at Great Bear signals more outdoor opportunities in Sioux Falls
All types of recreation are key to the city's continued growth and well being.
SIOUX FALLS – Now I hope the snow sticks around for a while.
Heresy, I know, but hear me out.
There’s a new wrinkle in the winter sport scene in Sioux Falls and a preview of what’s to come in the summer.
Now, before we go any further…
Full disclosure, I have personal ties to this news. As you may know, I spend more than a little time riding bikes.
And, I’m a member of the small group of enthusiasts who organize bike racing in the community. We had a fantastic fat bike race at Great Bear last month in conjunction with MediaOne FunSki, the annual fundraiser for the Children’s Home Society.
It was a blast.
That led to talks about finding a way to allow riding more than once or twice a year for special events.
Dan Grider, general manager of the ski and snowboard park in eastern Sioux Falls, suggested Thursday evenings might work.
The cross-country ski trails that make riding in deep snow possible are groomed on Fridays and Mondays, which means everything would be hunky dory for skiers the day after the four-inch wide tires roll around for a couple hours.
Grider talked to the people who run Falls Area Single Track, which is building mountain bike trails in the city, and it came together pretty fast.
Starting this Thursday, Feb. 9, from 3 p.m. to close, you can come out and ride your fat bike from the trailhead at the top of the parking lot at Great Bear.
There are rules, that you can see in the graphic included here.
So yes, I want the snow to stick around a bit longer.
Beyond that, however, there are good things happening at Great Bear even after the snow is gone.
Great Bear is a wonderful recreation area in our city.
And to remain The Best Little City in America, we need all the recreation we can get.
Indoor, outdoor, year-round - all of it.
As we’ve heard with the announcement of the Riverline District and the city’s plans for aquatics , recreation is a huge part of the vitality of our community. It’s important to the people who live here and it’s a major tool in recruiting and maintaining a quality workforce.
People want more of everything.
And while we’ll never all get everything we want, things are moving forward on many levels.
One of those areas is mountain biking.
FAST has a goal of having 25 miles of single-track trails in the city limits by 2025. The work is privately funded and volunteer driven.
Whether or not they make that goal doesn’t really matter. It’s a big vision that has required many hours of work from many dedicated people.
We are in the nascent stages, but beginning this summer, the first steps will be taken toward having mountain bikes at Great Bear all year. The park is working on the master plan for an expansion to 220 acres of adjacent land acquired by the city.
Part of that is partnering with FAST to build sustainable trails in the park.
That will start with bringing in some experts from the International Mountain Bicycling Association after the snow melts to assess the terrain, according to Ronpaul Dezell, vice president of FAST.
That will be followed by design with a concept put together by fall and construction to begin as soon as possible after the plans are finalized.
Which is all good news for outdoor enthusiasts, such as hikers, runners, walkers, bird watchers, skiers of all types, snowshoers and, yes, bikers.
So if you’re any of those, come on out to Great Bear on Thursday.
You can check out what’s going on at the park and hang out with us at the chalet.
Maybe have a beverage and talk about the future.