Catharine Pendrel would rather be chasing her Olympic dream, but the parked cross-country mountain biker has made good use of down time during the pandemic.
Pendrel and Martin Bojeson are trail designers and lead builders of a 1.1-kilometre mountain biking course tailored for kids, a project that began last fall and had support from benevolent community members.
The loop is ready for use, located in the Dufferin wetlands, with access near the kiosk by the tennis courts.
“It’s a perfect venue for us,” said Pendrel, a Kamloops Bike Riders Association Kids League organizer.
The Kids League, which started in 2017, has grown to about 70 members ages seven to 12, with events held mostly at the Kamloops Bike Ranch and in the Lac Du Bois area.
“It was really challenging to find terrain where the climbs were good for kids,” Pendrel said. “You want kids to have a good experience. When they’re pushing their bike or things seem too hard, it’s not going to be as good of an experience. We were looking for terrain that was a little bit more kid-friendly.”
Pendrel approached the City of Kamloops to seek permission to build some sort of course near her Mount Dufferin home and was pleasantly surprised with the response.
“They said, ‘Well, actually, we have this area we started developing years ago, but just didn’t have a cyclist behind it, so the layout wasn’t quite right,’” Pendrel said, noting infrastructure already in place meant plans could be expedited.
Bojeson and Pendrel got to work, with help from the KBRA, local businesses and a host of volunteers. The existing trail has been repurposed and expanded. Bridges were built to cross creeks.
The Kids League spring season is endangered by the pandemic, but the loop is accessible to families on their own time.
“Without gyms being open and organized sports, people need to get out,” said Pendrel, noting there is room for trail expansion and more features in the wetlands area.
“If you talk to bike shops in town, you’re going to hear they’re having record sales and that they’re so busy. I’ve heard bikes are the new toilet paper.”
Now kids have a new place to roll.