A years-old idea of bringing downhill bicycle racing to Bowling Green’s Weldon Peete Park has gained some momentum.
Warren Fiscal Court on May 21 approved the request of county Parks and Recreation Director Chris Kummer to purchase $6,200 worth of dirt from Jimmy White Trucking, a purchase that will serve as the county’s match in a grant application aimed at bringing a dual slalom course to the park near the Barren River.
Kummer said the dirt purchase will be made only after the grant is awarded.
Jennifer Schmidt, who helps the county with grant applications, said the grant through the Federal Highway Administration’s Recreational Trails Program requires a 20% match.
“The dirt is part of the match,” Schmidt said. “We won’t know if we will be getting the grant until the end of August.”
A few months’ wait sounds good to Chip Winger, chairman of the Southwest Kentucky Mountain Bike Association that has been working on bringing the slalom course to Weldon Peete since at least 2015.
“We started many years ago trying to get a dual slalom course,” Winger said. “It has just been tough. Money is always a problem. Recreation seems to be taking off now, so we thought this was a good time to revisit it.”
Winger said enthusiasm for the course is growing, pointing out that a recent “impromptu” public meeting in support of the course brought out more than 50 people.
He said plans for the course call for two winding 1,000-foot tracks that run parallel and allow for two bicyclists to race.
The slalom track will also include a “skills course,” a return path that riders can take back up to the starting point while maneuvering through wooden ramps and other obstacles that help riders improve their skills.
“It’s going to be an amazing course, if we’re able to get the grant,” Kummer said at the fiscal court meeting.
Winger said the dual slalom course would be a good complement to the existing 2.6-mile Low Hollow Mountain Bike Trail that opened in 2012 in a portion of the park that is maintained by the city of Bowling Green.
The dual slalom course is planned for the county-maintained portion of the park. Winger said the course has the potential to enhance tourism through recreational or competitive events.
“We’ve had seven Low Hollow Trail Festivals,” Winger said. “We could expand that to include the dual slalom course.”
Development of the dual slalom course would have the added benefit of providing a venue for a fledgling local mountain bike team for school-aged riders.
The Warren County Hollow Riders, made up of youngsters in grades 6-12 from throughout the county, competes in the Kentucky League of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association.
Winger said this is the first year Kentucky students have been able to participate in NICA events, which he says are growing in popularity.
“It (NICA) is really expanding,” he said. “We want to get it going here.”
Judging from the growth of the Southwest Kentucky Mountain Bike Association, Winger believes interest in the sport is expanding locally.
“We stated in 2010 with five members,” he said. “Today we have 106.”
The dual slalom course wouldn’t be the first mountain bike trail the club has helped develop. Winger said the group has worked on creating the Big Hollow Trail at Mammoth Cave National Park along with trails at Barren River, Nolin and Rough River lakes.