Saturday, July 7, 2012

Civic Field Dirt Jump Rebuild - Day 1, June 22, 2012

Today was the day! We had the last construction meeting with the Parks and Recreation. This was the final meeting before the start of work and the last chance for something to go truly wrong that would prevent this project from starting today as planned. Amazingly enough though, nothing went wrong! After multiple delays that pushed the starting date back again and again, I had gotten to the point where I live in abject fear of any delay which could cost another day, a week or more. Because of this, even after work began and the machine was running, I just couldn't believe it was actually happening. All the hard work writing e-mails and working on plans or paperwork until late into the night was finally paying off.- this thing was actually happening!

Machine work begins at Civic Field Bike Park last Friday. View from old starting mound. (southwest corner)
Notice damage done to the jump on the right by "vandals" the night before.

View of the old park from the starting berm (southeast corner).

I guess I didn't look too excited though. Andy asked me more than once if I was stressed. I guess I was a little, but mainly, I was lingering in some measure of disbelief. The work had begun. There were no more conditions to satisfy - at least none that had to be satisfied before work could begin - but mentally I still hadn't caught up. I was somehow stuck in the same mindset that I had developed over the last 8 months, since taking over as the coordinator for the bike park. Still worried that something would come up at the last minute to keep it all from happening. There have been so many ups and downs for me with this. The original date that I had in mind to start the machine work was March. But for one reason or another, it kept getting delayed.

If you've worked to get approval to build trails or jumps on public land then you know what I mean. There is always one more paper that needs to be signed, one more meeting to go to, one more assurance that the city won't be sued or left holding the bag if halfway through the project you flake out and end up not completing the work. I had hoped that I would have some time to enjoy the feeling that the rebuild was approved by all concerned before work was scheduled to begin. Alas, this was not to be. Last minute changes to the insurance as well as the storm water permit inspection ran right up to the day before we were scheduled to break ground, which for me meant that it was a nail bitter right down to the very last minute.

 It wasn't until Spencer was about 2 hours into tearing the old starting mound down that it finally sunk in. We were doing this thing! We're really doing it. It was at this point, that I started to get into the spirit and started cheering as Spencer clawed off 2 plus feet of dirt off the top of the starting mound. What a sight. It would have taken me a week to do that and the excavator did it in 15 minutes! Amazing. In a month, the park would be completely changed, reshaped into a vision of what I had dreamed it could be. Then I got excited.

There certainly was no doubt that Andy was excited about the machine work starting. He talked more in the first two hours than in the past year and a half combined. He told me that he was so worked up about starting that the night before that he couldn't sleep. He felt like a kid at Christmas. He just laid in bed and dreaming about all the amazing things that we were going to build over the next month.

All was progressing a planned as Spencer worked on the starting mound. In about an hour and a half the rough shaping on the mound was done, complete with two earthen platforms (one higher for the advanced riders, one lower for the beginners), with a walk up that I christened  "the wheel chair ramp", because it circles around the mound in such a way that it looks like a wheelchair accessible ramp.

Spencer even roughed-in the drop-in from the mound into the big line. Things were really moving along at a rapid pace. On our timeline that I put together gave us a day for the mound alone and here it was done in under 2 hours! "We might just finish ahead of schedule if this keeps up", I thought.  No sooner did I think that, of course, than it began to rain. Light rain at first, then turning into a downpour. I'm not kidding, a frickin' downpour in Bellingham. The home of the lightest piss rain imaginable that  lasts for months, but never amounts to much. Really! What the F?!!

View of the starting mound 15 minutes into work. (Notice the rain threatening sky.)
Starting mound getting machine packed.

New starting mound roughed in. (And the rain has begun.)

 The earth moving continued as planned despite the rain. Spencer worked his way counter-clockwise around the outside of the park. The huge platform of dirt which was the elevated entry berm in the old park was dug down to surface grade. This was necessary to: 1) provide adequate drainage for the south side of the park, 2) to lower the massive starting hill to a reasonable level so you didn't need "Avalanche Certification" from AAI to climb to the top and 3) to reclaim enough dirt to create some the new features that we will be adding later in the rebuild. As encouraging as the work on the starting mound had been, taking out the corner berms was not going to be as easy.

Easy for the excavator I mean, because up to this point all I got to do was stand around and look stupid. Something that I'm good at for sure, but it certainly doesn't get much work done. Of course, there wasn't much that I could do. There was no buffing to do at the beginning of the day because some serious dirt needed to be moved first, then later in the day the rain started coming down hard enough to so there wasn't much I could do. All I managed to do in the rain was to get completely soaked. By 5pm, I was soaked to the bone, very cold and thoughly irritated. It took an hour plus long lunch break, a change of clothes, a turkey burger and a glass of wine to recover the scraps of my latent enthusiasm. I did recover it though and when I returned the guys were back to and it was time for me to get to work. 'Bout damn time.

The freshly dug, relatively dry dirt turned over by the excavator made it possible to do some shaping. Greatful for something to do, I happily started to work on packing and roughing in the shape of the berm from a loose pile of fresh dirt dropped by the excavator, into a hand packed form that roughly resembled a berm. Andy continues to stand around.

About an hour after to our return to work, Spencer yells out the window at Andy, "Why don't you F&%#ing do something?!"
"I did do something" Andy responds, "I made you lunch."
"Well, if you're just going to stand there, go back to my house and start on dinner, because you're not doing us any good here."
They were joking around of course. Just the kind of thing, friends do, hassle each other and talk shit. I had to laugh.


More pics from Friday:

Andy and Terry smoothing the top of the new starting mound.

The excavator taking out the Pro-line filter jump.

Diggin' it out.

Spencer at the helm.

The beginning of the new Civic Pro-line.

Starting mound


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