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Pumped for a track

If enthusiastic support is a sign that an idea has momentum, then the turnout for last week’s Parks and Recreation Commission meeting means a new bicycle track is in the works for Ashland. The only question is where, and supporters made a strong case for building it on the Lincoln School grounds on Beach Street.

The topic wasn’t even on the agenda for the meeting, but a notice sent out two days ahead of the meeting brought more than 80 people, a third of them children. That speaks to the need for a better track, Rogue Valley Mountain Bike Association board member Casey Botts told the commission.

Ashland is blessed with miles of mountain bike trails in the Watershed, but those are too steep for young children and inexperienced riders. A “pump track” — so named because riders pump the pedals to power around the course — offers an opportunity to build strength and develop the skills needed to tackle the more challenging trails on the mountainside.

The existing BMX track, near the dog park on West Nevada Street, is heavily used, but is not a pleasant place to ride and the dirt surface is hard to maintain, Botts said. He estimated hundreds of people in the valley ride consistently, and a youth mountain biking team started this year quickly grew beyond capacity and was the largest team in the state.

The proposal is still in the conceptual stage, but the Parks Commission and the school district should give it serious consideration.