It was Ciela’s first time at the Bike Park Blowout in Castle Rock, and the 11-year-old wasted no time trying out most of the 15 stations set for Saturday’s event. The jump line was her favorite.
“I think it’s fun,” Ciela said.
The Vancouver girl was just one of hundreds at the seventh annual blowout at the Castle Rock Bike Skills Park. The free event was organized by members of Growlers Gulch Racing, who also created the park. Jim LeMonds, Growlers founding member, said the event promotes the park and celebrates volunteer work put into it all year long.
“It helps people know the park is here,” LeMonds said. “And it puts kids on bikes, that’s always a good thing.”
The skills stations set up for the event catered to a variety of riders, from entry-level to more advanced, LeMonds said. Riders earned a helmet sticker for each station they try and a medal for trying all 15. This system encourages riders to get out of their comfort zone and sample more of the park, he said.
Greg Marrow brought his two kids to the event for the first time. The Castle Rock resident said his 11-year-old daughter and 8-year-old son were “loving it.”
“My daughter is making huge strides and building confidence,” Marrow said.
Volunteers from PeaceHealth St. John Medical Center checked riders’ helmets and provided helmets to participants who needed them. Proper Cycle Werks of Longview conducted safety checks of participants’ bikes.
Many riders and parents sat around the course taking a break with lunch provided by North County Recreation Association and water from the Castle Rock Baptist Church.
Six-year-old Alyssa and her family came from Washougal for the event. She said she had fun trying new stations.
“Some are really fun and some are challenging,” Alyssa said. “I try to go my own speed.”
Liz Fitch stood by a station at the far side of the course, timing racers as they sped one at a time down a gravel stretch. The first-time volunteer handed out stickers to riders finishing the station for the first time, but more often, she updated riders on how quickly they completed the stretch.
“It’s great all these kids can come out here and practice technical skills that make them such better riders,” Fitch said. “And they enjoy it.”
The event shows that the park is a great community asset, not just for Castle Rock, but Cowlitz and surrounding counties, LeMonds said. It gives kids a place to go and something to do, he said.
“We love biking and want to share that,” LeMonds said. “As long as kids are having fun, that’s all we care about.”