Carpentersville event to kick off biking season at Andres Bike Park

Though still a work in progress, Andres Bike Park in Carpentersville is on its way to becoming a regional cycling hub.

Since 2012, volunteer group Chicago Area Mountain Bikers has poured $70,000 and thousands of hours of work into building five miles of mountain biking trails, CAMBr North President Mike Angus said. With flow trails, berms and rolling hills, the park's infrastructure has been built to accommodate all levels of cycling, he said.

The infrastructure is not yet entirely complete, and beautification efforts are underway, Angus said. But already, the bike park that Village President Ed Ritter calls a "hidden gem of Carpentersville" has gained traction from local outdoor enthusiasts and cyclists across the region.

"We started with a vision, and we've sort of been building with pieces of it," Angus said. "We don't have much elevation in Chicago, so this is going to be a unique bike park in the Midwest."

To kick off the start of a new biking season, CAMBr is hosting its first Spring Bike Jam 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 29 at the park's 1301 Sacramento Drive entrance, complete with music, food and giveaways. The group organized a similar Fall Bike Jam at the close of last year's season.

Because the Spring Bike Jam is scheduled for Memorial Day Weekend, Angus added, the event will also honor the park's namesake, Keith Andres, a veteran who was killed in the Vietnam War.

By starting these annual events, which are free and open to the public, CAMBr hopes to accomplish two things, Angus said: Give residents an excuse to check out the park and showcase all the work that has been put into building it.

"I can honestly say this is starting to surpass my expectations of what this could become," he said." The city and the people that are using these trails are really enjoying and benefiting from what we're putting in place."

With $100,000 worth of improvements left to be made, he said, the park is still a work in progress.

The cycling infrastructure is about 80 percent complete, Angus said, and an entrance to the park is expected to be finished this month. Landscaping will also put in to make the park more welcoming.

Eventually, Andres Park is expected to connect to the Raceway Woods Forest Preserve and the Fox River Bike Trail, Angus said.

With the amount of time Trail Coordinator Dave Lawler spends at Andres Park, he said he's witnessed firsthand how frequently it's used. Kids stop by on the way home from school, local residents walk their dogs along the trails, and cyclists have traveled from Wisconsin and Indiana to try out the trails.

"It's an interesting dynamic. It's not uncommon that people come from hours away to ride at the park just because there's nothing else like it," Lawler said. "I think that's why people get so excited about it."

  Alejandro Escobar, 13, chooses a trail to ride in 2014 in Andres Park in Carpentersville. John Starks/
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