While sitting in the serene rose garden of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park, one would not expect to stumble upon an extreme sports treasure. In the thick growth of redwoods across from the De Young, there is a hidden treasure. A massive trail of jumps, banks and burns runs the length of Fulton stretching over 5 blocks. It has been created from years of work compressing dirt and mud to the point it is concrete-hard and transplanting trees to to keep the proper structure of the track.
The other evening, a friend and I were lucky enough to stumble across this fantastic structure and met a local biker who was taking a rest as the day’s light dwindled. When we asked who built this fantastic structure he said he didn’t know specifically who built it but that it was some BMXers who wanted a track, and they maintain it. I was so struck by this that I decided to head to the park the next day to check it out.
While examining severely deep trenches and wide ravines swaying back and forth through under the shady canopy of the trees, I was lucky enough to meet two gentleman who have, over the past two years, maintained and built out this incredible bike park. The gentlemen in question performed a few jumps for Segway tourists and a few dirt bikers passing by, and then showed me around the track.
The intricacy and detail involved is quite astonishing; the ground is hard and smooth enough to ride a skateboard over it and they designed it so that the track would rarely have to pass over the main walkway. They showed me the various spots that they had to clean up after being filled with filth by “hippies,” “homeless guys” and those parked in trailers on Fulton.
According to the gentlemen that I met, they have had various interactions with authorities, ranging from support and supplies (like shovels and wheelbarrows) from former city park employees, awe from park rangers, and animosity from the local mountain bike cops. “I’ve seen them going over the track when they think nobody is watching,” stated the gentleman, “but they never pack it down or clean up when they are done.”
The truth is that the enforcement of the publicly displayed “no biking” signs is minimal at best. The tickets issued are either fought or those found guilty do 6-8 hours of community service, sometimes even being sentenced to clean up the course area.
Apparently, two years ago Stanley Roberts from “People Behaving Badly” checked out the path and tried to do an expose on it. According to the youtube video he “…contacted the department of parks and recreation,” but they said the situation was “out of control.”
When I visited the site I saw no tagging or negative environmental impact; in fact, by clearing some of the brush and vines that were growing and choking the roots of the redwoods, these BMXers have given more living space to the trees. The biking community that is aware of the path have come together to take care of it and defend it. Robert’s video, as you can see from the associated comments and on his facebook page at the time, has been filled with angry and displeased missives mixed with the usual youtube drivel.
The gatherings at this course usually top out around ten to fifteen participants hanging out and doing jumps, according to my sources, but some day this will explode and I envision a large gathering that will be extraordinary to witness.