It’s hard to believe but the dream for Velocity Bike Park began in 2011 when the County of Santa Cruz approached Mount Hermon to see if we were interested in purchasing the 15 acre Felton Meadow property.
Mount Hermon wasn’t looking to acquire any additional property, but we recognized the significance of this opportunity and how it would allow us to work even more closely with our community. The County of Santa Cruz helped us broker a deal with the previous owners, South County Housing, and we took possession in May of 2012. Shortly after taking possession we began a major clean-up and security effort on the property. We removed (figure of tons) tons of accumulated garbage and debris from the property and installed a perimeter fence to limit the amount of undesirable activity on the property. We also developed a pedestrian walkway to allow neighbors and residents to still access Zayante road and the Felton Faire Shopping Center. Working with CAL Fire and Felton Fire we also reduced the amount of “fuel” on the property and invasive species.
Along with improving the property we hosted a series of meetings with community members, neighbors and residents to begin planning property improvements. Through our conversations a set of guiding principles emerged that would guide our thought process:
• maintain greenspace on the property
• employ the most current sustainable development practices
• consider programs and amenities that would bless the local community
• design programs that would not compete with already established businesses or facilities, but enhance them
• create programs that promote healthy families and inter-generational participation
Our guiding principles helped us sort through the myriad options and settle on a few key programs and facilities:
• a mountain bike facility
• a community garden
• a community day-camp and after-school care facility
• an aerial adventure courses
• recreation spaces for day-campers
• connectivity to our existing properties
The Design Phase:
After our initial clean up, community input and discussion phases we began the design phase. We knew that we wanted to enlist the help of the best people in many disciplines to help us develop a world-class plan. After carefully considering many firms we chose Verde Designs to be the lead design firm and then began enlisting the help of experts in many disciplines including Alpine Bike Parks for the bike park design. This is also when we began working formally with the County of Santa Cruz Planning Department on developing the initial plan design.
Thinking that the design and approval phase would take approximately two years we developed and launched the “Velocity Bike Park” identity and started to promote the bike park and bike school at local events like the Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival and bigger events like the Sea Otter Classic, even partnering with GoPro to provide the AcroBag aerial trick bag! It was an exciting time and cemented many great relationships that are carried on today.
After several years of design, survey and studies the Santa Cruz Planning Department recommended our project to the Planning Commission in October of 2015. At the hearing many people voiced support for the project and urged the commission to approve the project. After the hearing the planning commission required the completion of an Environmental Impact Report. The Planning Department spent several months choosing an EIR consultant agency and we began working with them in early 2016 to complete the EIR process.
Environmental Impact Report:
For the past year we’ve worked with the EIR consulting agency to complete all the required surveys, studies and reports to ensure the best sustainable project possible. We’re proud of all the work that has been done and looking forward to moving forward with the project.
While we continue to wait for the Velocity Bike Park / Felton Meadow project to be approved we have begun offering mountain bike skills development programs at our Mount Hermon property as well at locations throughout the county. Velocity Bike School offers progressive mountain bike programs with talented and experienced coaches certified by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA). Our unique and personalized approach combines core skill development and on-trail riding to help you take your riding to the next level! Programs are available this spring and summer – join us!
The draft EIR is anticipated to publish within the next few weeks which will kick off an official 60 day public comment period. Now is the time to share your voice with local officials to let them know you support the Felton Meadow project and Velocity Bike Park. You can send in a letter directly from our website at either feltonmeadow.org or velocitybikeparks.org.
There will also be two public meetings during the 60 day public comment period where we need you to show up and voice your support. We’ll announce the date, time and location of those meetings as soon as we have them.
Thanks again for your supporting the project and for supporting healthy, growing communities!
This week we’re celebrating a huge milestone–
and reaching out to you for help.
Over the past 14 months we’ve been working with the County of Santa Cruz planning department and environmental consultants to complete an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the Felton Meadow project, which includes Velocity Bike Park. The EIR is a long and detailed process that looks at all aspects of our proposed plan – the level of detail required to complete the EIR ensures that the project meets and in many cases exceeds required development criteria.The Santa Cruz Planning Department will soon be publishing what is called the Draft EIR for public comment. While it is called a “draft” it is the complete document which is finalized after the public comment period. The official public comment period is scheduled to last for 60 days and is your opportunity to submit letters of support.
What we need from you
This is your opportunity to support Velocity Bike Park – by writing a letter to the Santa Cruz Planning Department. It is critical that the planners and County Supervisors see that the support for this project is deep and wide.
Once the 45 day public comment period closes we are required to respond to all the comments – which is part of the EIR process. Depending on the volume and complexity of the comments we receive this could take a few months. Once all comments have been responded to we’ll be added to the list of projects waiting for a hearing before the Planning Commission – who will vote and have the final say on the project. We’ll need your help at this point by coming to the official hearing where you’ll again have the opportunity to support the project with your presence. The timeline will look something like this:
Waiting for a hearing
August or September
Please help us now by writing your letter of support, and thank you for your support up to this point. It’s been a long road but we’re almost there!
Felton Meadow/Velocity Bike Park Town Hall Meeting
Mount Hermon is excited to announce a public meeting about the Felton Meadow/Velocity Bike Park project. Felton Meadow is a 14.4 acre parcel bordered by Graham Hill Road, the Felton Faire Shopping Center and Mount Hermon’s existing properties. With over a 100 year history in the San Lorenzo Valley, Mount Hermon is proud to steward this important piece of land.
On Saturday, January 23rd from 1:00–3:00pm we’ll be hosting an informational and question and answer time at the Felton Community Hall at 6191, Highway 9, beside the Felton Fire Station. We’ll be discussing our proposed plans for property improvements, community based programs and how you can be involved. We will also give an update on our Environmental Impact Report process and have a time to answer your questions.
There is no need to RSVP—just come and bring a friend! We look forward to seeing you there!
As summer is attempting to become fall we’ve been out enjoying riding bikes and gearing up for what is supposed to be a wet winter. Looking for slightly cooler temperatures and some epic dirt, Velocity staff Nate Pfefferkorn and Doug Cline headed over to Mammoth Mountain a few weeks ago to learn more about lift-served operations, trail design, and of course to do some riding.
Nate and Doug getting ready to drop in off the summit of Mammoth Bike Park
Mammoth Mountain Bike Park has a lot going for it—3500 acres of terrain and over 80 miles of single track means you can ride hard for two days and not ride the same trail twice! Mammoth has done an excellent job of creating trails for all levels of riders and has some excellent lift-served XC style trails along with more resort-typical gravity and DH lines. Not to mention some of the best high-altitude views anywhere!
View from Mammoth summit looking west
Mammoth also has linkages to the Lakes Basin area and USFS roads and trails. By partnering with public land agencies the Mammoth area has created great options for riders both on and off the mountain. It’s possible to ride off the summit on mostly downhill trails for over 20 miles by connecting trails through public lands.
Joining Mammoth Bike Park trails with USFS trails makes for some epic descents
Santa Cruz and it’s various land agencies have a lot they could learn from Mammoth about creating fun, sustainable multi-use trails that would draw people to the area and showcase it’s natural beauty.
If you’ve been following Mount Hermon Adventures for a while you’ll know that we’ve been engaged in a development project in the Santa Cruz Mountains that we’re calling the Felton Meadow. It’s a beautiful fifteen acre property with lots of open space, oak trees, and natural topography. We’ve planned several amazing improvements to the site including a community garden, day camp program and world-class bike park called “Velocity.”
The Velocity Bike Park has probably had the most press because it is the part of the project we plan to lead with and there is nothing like it currently in California. Intentionally designed to maximize instructional opportunities, Velocity is both a bike park and bike school. Using pump tracks, skills zones, flow trails, jump lines, the acro-bag and more all under the attention of trained and certified bike coaches will create a bike park like no where else.
More than just a bike park
More than just a bike park though we want to be a blessing to the local community be making sure the development is sustainable and accessible for everyone who wants to come. As we’ve worked with the county of Santa Cruz on our site master plan it has become clear that an Environmental Impact Report is the best way to complete our planning process. We’re currently working with the planning department to complete the EIR process. It’s hard to guess at how long this will take but we’ve been told to expect 12 months from when we start.
In the meantime we’re developing local program opportunities and ride clinics locally in Santa Cruz. We’re also sending the team out to research other bike parks and bike facilities that are well regarded to see what we can learn. Just recently we hit the north Tahoe area to check out the Trukee Bike Park.
Recon work at the Truckee Bike Park
The Truckee Bike Park started about three years ago when some dedicated local builders put in a pump track. In the last few years through fundraising and sponsorship efforts they’ve expanded by adding two zones of dirt jumps, a drop zone, dual slalom course and three different flow lines. What makes the park awesome is how it caters to riders of all ages and abilities—in just our group we had riders from age 7 to 42 on hardtails, xc bikes, and big enduro rides and everyone could find something to push their skills. It was encouraging to see all the families at the park and people from all walks of life enjoying being outside and developing their skills. Visiting Truckee also reinforced the need for an awesome bike park in Santa Cruz County.
Keep up-to-date on progress
Subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook to stay up to date on all things Velocity. As we move through the EIR process we’ll need your supportive comments to get this park built!
Join Velocity Bike Parks and Epicenter Cycling along with Trek bikes Friday July 17th at the Rio Theater in Santa Cruz for the premiere of Teton Gravity / Anthill Films’ highly anticipated film, unReal.
As if the movie itself isn’t rad enough, there will be an awesome raffle featuring product from Trek and Shimano as well.
You can purchase movie tickets online, here. Raffle tickets are for sale at Epicenter Cycling in Aptos or Santa Cruz. (Raffle tickets are $5 each.)
Proceeds will benefit the NEW Polo Grounds Progression Park in Aptos – learn more about this project here.
It’s been three months since the Aptos Post Office Jumps and Epicenter Pump Track were shut down to make way for the new Aptos Village Center. Jesse Nickell, Senior Vice President with Barry Swenson Builder published an open letter to the mountain bike community just before the area was shut down and had this to say:
Barry Swenson Builder and the Santa Cruz County Parks Department built these parks temporarily knowing this real estate was slated as the future home of Aptos Village. Together we identified there was a community need for a safe place for riders of all ages and skill levels to participate and have a place to go. Whether working on riding skills and techniques on the pump track or honing their skills dirt jumping and free style riding on the dirt jumps the parks appealed to intermediate and pro riders alike.
Many good things have come out of these temporary model parks. We now are seeing bicycle pump track parks being built throughout Santa Cruz County. This method of developing public parks on private land and with community stewardship has become a role model and many grassroots bicycle parks have been built using this as a model nationwide. We are proud to have demonstrated the social/community need and been a catalyst for generating world-class freestyle dirt jumpers from of our area.
Jesse is right on pointing out that private development with public support and community stewardship is a great model for bike parks. The somewhat sad truth is that riding on public lands is fraught with challenges and here in Santa Cruz County many of our epic trails are unsanctioned at best. Developing riding areas in local public parks is also challenging and time consuming.
At Velocity we’re optimistic that we’ll be able to turn our 15 acres into another safe place for riders of all ages and skill levels. As we wade through the county planning process we need your support, that community grass-roots support, to help make it happen.
A mason jar of the “magic dirt” sits on the shelf of my office waiting to be ceremoniously “sprinkled” on the future jump line at Velocity. It’s going to be awesome!
At Velocity we like to ride bikes – that’s no secret. We’re also passionate about getting people outside into creation to have some fun – and if that fun is on bikes all the better! Our friends at Epicenter Cycling invited us to participate in an event June 6th – the monthly Girls Rock! ride. Girls Rock! started out locally as a group of women that like to ride and wanted to get other ladies out on the trail and has grown into a big deal, even though they say they’re just “an informal women’s mountain biking group.” The last few rides have been capped at 80 riders, many of whom are just getting into the sport or want to check it out.
The ride each month is hosted by a different local bike shop or bike industry organization and for the month of June Epicenter is making it happen! Velocity will be joining the fun by offering a few hours of beginning rider skills instruction to help ladies new to the sport to conquer the basics.
Spring is awesome because the flowers are blooming and bike riding season is in full-swing. To kick the season off we participate in two great bike festivals: The Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival and the Sea Otter Classic.
This year’s Santa Cruz Mountain Bike Festival took place in Santa Cruz at San Lorenzo Park. Velocity was there in full force with the AcroBag aerial jump bag for two days of fun. We were also collecting support signatures and spreading the good news of Velocity! Hopefully next year we’ll be talking about hosting this amazing event at our park.
Catching the “Way Rad” air on the Velocity air bag. Image courtesy of Patrick D. Rosso
Then we packed up and headed down to Monterey for the Sea Otter Classic bike festival. Sea Otter is the biggest bike festival in North America with every kind of bike racing, product demos, family fun, food and more! We were onsite with our friends at GoPro running the Velocity airbag for the weekend. Over 800 people came out and hit the bag, worked on their tricks, and just generally shredded.
The Mount Hermon Adventures race team was also out in full force with team members racing cyclocross, road, gran fondo’s, downhill and enduro events. Eric Williams pulled super duty racing in the road, criterium and cyclocross events. Eric just started racing last year and is already making a splash on the team by hitting the podium more often than not.
Eric Williams representing the “circle tree” in the main pack
It was great to be at these events with the Velocity airbag and to see the groundswell of support for our Velocity Bike Park project. It is starting to capture the hearts and minds of riders from all over the bay area. Stay tuned for more updates and developments.