By David DiPino
The Pineapple Contributing Writer
Due west on Atlantic Avenue, past State Road 441, in West Delray Regional Park, Gerry Kinnard and a group of volunteers maintain a challenging intermediate mountain bike course.
As volunteer coordinator for the park located at 10875 West Atlantic Ave., Kinnard organizes and manages trail maintenance through the Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Volunteer Program.
Kinnard and a group of hard-working volunteers meet at the park about once a month to clip overgrown vegetation off the trail, identify trail hazards and build new paths in an effort to extend the course. Most of the volunteers, including Kinnard, are mountain bike enthusiasts who give back by maintaining the trails.
Four years ago, Kinnard, a Boca Raton resident, began riding his mountain bike at West Delray Regional Park. The course was half the size it is today but Kinnard noticed potential. “When I started riding the trail, it was 2.3 miles and now it’s 4. 3 miles. I thought we could bring some fun back into it. I met volunteers maintaining the course and began joining others for about five hours a week. Markham Park’s course in Broward County is a mecca but they do charge to ride. West Delray Regional Park is a gem and free,” Kinnard said.
“Some of the volunteers spend 15 to 20 hours out here each week maintaining the course’s trails. Aldrich Tool Rentals has been real good with lending us tools and letting us rent machinery at a great price. The county workers are great. We coordinate with the county to have shell rock delivered out here to build up the elevations. The shell rock is moved around with Bobcat Loaders and then the volunteers bucket it up and hike it to different areas of the trail. I want to also point out you don’t have to ride to maintain,” Kinnard said.
Each section of the trail is labeled by colorful signs painted by Atlantic Community High School art students. Sections include the Serpent, Dinoback, Ptero Right (a fern forest that looks like it’s right out of the Mesozoic Era), Jurassic, The Pipe, Bump Pass, Ursula, with future plans for Urachus (Dune movie reference), 20-Foot Hill and Fish Bowl.
“We build elevation changes, not jumps – just areas that are made to be rolled over. We encourage riders to hike a bike over terrain they’re not ready for and may need to build up to,” Kinnard said.
Delray Beach resident Tom Rujo rode the course 11 months ago and returned in November to try it out again. He said the volunteers do a great job of maintaining the course and introducing new trails. “I love this park and this is a technical course,” said Rujo.
“The best case scenario for the course would be more riders taking advantage of it and more people helping out with the trail maintenance. It’s a great piece of land and more people need to know about it,” Kinnard said.
When Kinnard is not volunteering, he rides in the Florida Off Road Cycling Association (FORCE). FORCE is hosting an individual time trial series at area courses built to encompass both naturally occurring terrain and artificial features, like tabletops, berms and rollers. The trials will be held at various parks in Palm Beach County, including West Delray Regional Park on Feb. 7, 2016. For more details, visit www.FORCEMTB.org. To find the bike trails, come through the main entrance at West Delray Regional Park and take the second left onto Bold Rule Circle; then follow the cul-de-sac to the trail entrance.