Welcome to Gnomewood Skills Park! 

What is Gnomewood?

Gnomewood is a Mountain Bike Skills Park located adjacent to the Beginners Loop at the Phase 1 (P1) trail in Galena, Ohio.  The park is currently under construction with the Grand Opening October 14, 2017.  Consistent with our mission of education, Gnomewood is a destination for kids, beginners... really anyone who wants to improve their mountain bike riding skills.

Why a 'Skills Park' & not a trail?

A Skills Park offers a different experience than trail riding.  For many beginning or novice riders, completing an entire loop of a trail is a big achievement.  When riding that loop, riders encounter various obstacles and may or may not clear them.  Logs, roots, rocks, creek crossings etc. all pose unique challenges. But they only see that obstacle ONCE and don't have much of an opportunity to practice the skills necessary to clear it consistently.

Much like an athlete playing a sport, a skills park is practice where riding the trail is like the game.

For the rider who's interested in developing their skills, a Skills Park is a much better way to learn & practice the skills to improve their trail riding.  A properly designed skills park gives riders multiple repetitions in a very short amount of time, giving them an opportunity to develop skills & confidence without have to wonder what's around the next corner.

Much like an athlete playing a sport, a skills park is practice where riding the trail is like the game.  Imagine an athlete trying to improve their skill but only doing so in a game setting... (insert Allen Iverson rant).  Practice is for working on the skills that translate into the game setting.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Gnomewood?

Gnomewood is the name of the renovated Skills Park/Bike Park area associated with the Alum Creek Phase 1 (P1) MTB Trail System.  The area adjacent to the 1.7 mile beginner trail is primarily re-designed for children ages 3 to 15.  Riders of all ages are welcome.  GnomeWood will emphasize a family friendly, safe environment where children can be kids and adults can escape, discover, and relax.

What is the fascination with all the Gnome figurines?

Garden Gnome figurines have a rich history dating back as early as 1616 in Germany, with the ceramic figure version becoming popular in the 1860s.  These humanoid, dwarf figures were known to local myths about their willingness to help perform gardening work at night.  They are often the target of pranks, know collectively as "gnoming", when people return gnomes back "to the wild".  One such place is GnomeWood.  You are highly encouraged to "release" you donated garden gnome at GnomeWood.  We will find a proper home for him/her, just leave them by the kiosk.  It may take a week or two before your donated Gnome is 'installed'.

When will GnomeWood be open so I can ride there?

The official opening date is set for October 14th, 2017. We will have a ribbon cutting ceremony, family fun and a cookout.  Check our event calendar for details. 

What is IMBA?

IMBA is the International Mountain Bike Association, founded in 1988 in California by a local club concerned about trail closures.  IMBA's non-profit mission is to protect, create and enhance great mountain bike experiences.  COMBO became a local IMBA chapter in January 2014.

What is COMBO?

COMBO is the Central Ohio Mountain Biking Organization, the local chapter of IMBA.  Structured as an IRS 501c3 non-profit, COMBO members and volunteers serve the Central Ohio Mountain Biking community with trails located at Alum Creek State Park in Delaware, Ohio, Chestnut Ridge Metro Park in Carrol, Ohio and Great Seal State Park in Chillicothe, Ohio.  All trails are patrolled by local, trained National Mountain Bike Patrol volunteers certified annually in First Aid and CPR for your safety.  COMBO also hosts multiple events, including races, "Dirt School" educational clinics (lead by IMBA Certified Instructors), social events including COMBOween, Summer Solstice, and more.  The COMBO Mission Statement is to Create, Advocate & Preserve quality mountain biking in Central Ohio.

I want to help build GnomeWood now, how can I help?

  • Donate cash or checks at the green donation box/pipe safe located next to the GnomeWood kiosk.  Trail construction, labor & materials all come at a price.  GnomeWood does not receive any funding from Federal, State or Local municipalities/entities.  The GnomeWood project is solely funded by donations.  
  • Volunteer your time and talent - view www.combomtb.com or "Like" the COMBO Facebook Page and view the Events tab for upcoming trail day opportunities to contribute.  
  • Join COMBO/IMBA and encourage your friends & family to ride with you.

Where do I find the schedule of future Trail days to donate my labor to COMBO at GnomeWood?

See the calendar of events at www.combomtb.com

Like and view COMBO Facebook Page and see "Events"

Where will the next mountain bike clinic be offered?  What's it called?

COMBO operates it's mountain bike skills clinic as "Dirt School" & the complete 2017 schedule (including dates, times & locations) will be posted on the Dirt School section of www.combomtb.com sometime between February and April.

How do I sign up for Dirt School?

Registration is only offered online at www.combomtb.com under the Dirt School tab.

Where are the nearest public restrooms from GnomeWood?

The closest public restrooms with plumbing are located at the bottom of the dam.  From GnomeWood, head west on Lewis Center Rd (Rt 106).  Turn left (south) onto Africa Rd.  Then turn right onto Lewis Center Rd. West, drive approximately 300 yards and take first right into the "Below Dam Shelter House" Area.  Restrooms are on the left.

What is a bike skills park?

A bike skills park is an area designated specifically for basic/fundamental mountain biking skills development.  Skills parks provide controlled areas where focus is on education and repetition.  Skills parks differ from mountain bike trails.  There are three trails at Alum Creek designed specifically for mountain bike trail use:  

  • The 1.7 mile beginner level loop, sometimes call P0.  As the name implies, this trail is designed for beginners just starting to ride mountain bikes.  The features accommodate the most basic skill levels.
  • The 5.5 miles Intermediate level trail, called P1 or Phase 1.
  •  The 6.0 mile Advanced level trail, called P2, or Phase 2.  Trails are areas where riders can enjoy and apply the skills they have learned/mastered within the skills park.

What is a Pump Track?

A pump track is a series of small rolling hills designed to be ridden using gravity for forward propulsion (as opposed to pedaling).

What is a Kiosk?

A structure, generally located at a trail head, having one or more sides/panels used to display information such as maps, emergency information and other educational information.

When will the project lead be out at GnomeWood this week and next week, so that I can help?

The project lead, Jeff, does not usually know from day-to-day what the workload will be at his day-job so being able to commit to a predictable time and date at GnomeWood isn't realistic.

What will GnomeWood look like when construction is complete?

This draft illustration provides a view of the skills park view as proposed as of October 2015.  While the park will not look EXACTLY like this, it's the approved plan that volunteers are using to build and execute the high level GnomeWood vision.  More detailed and accurate maps are in-process and will be posted on the kiosk when ready.

IMG_7109.jpg

Why is the project taking so long to complete... I want to ride this now?!?!

  • We understand that riders love to ride.  We all want the project to be finished!  This is considered a large project for COMBO.  Large projects require more time and funding relative to smaller projects.  The work is performed by part time volunteers, not a full time professional construction company.
  • Large projects take time. This project will minimally require over 3,000 hours to complete.  This value far outstrips COMBO's total annual capacity.  To date (as of Dec. 2016) approximately 1,000+ hours have been donated by generous and dedicated volunteers, which is why the park build has come this far since it was approved in February 2016.  More volunteers will speed up park readiness... volunteer!
  • Motivated, capable and skilled people who are willing to volunteer their valuable time (in good weather or bad weather) are hard to find and retain.  Most of our volunteers are a few key, dedicated people who selflessly donate their time... time after time.
  • Large projects also required FUNDING.  This project is not yet fully funded.  While several generous private donors have stepped up to help fund GnomeWood, the average Bike Park build project requires funding amounts between $100k to $150k.  The investment for GnomeWood far outpaces COMBO's entire annual operating budget.  More funding will speed up the project.  Please consider donating!
  • GnomeWood is not the only active project supported by COMBO.  To date (as of Dec. 2016) private and corporate donors & volunteers have contributed over $32,000 in hours and monetary contributions to move the construction process to it's current state.  Maintaining existing trails and building other projects, like the Olentangy River Corridor project at Tuttle Park (for example) also requires COMBO's resources.
  • Weather conditions impact the project schedules.  Poor weather slows progress.

Will there be radically awesome jumps where I can get some BIG AIR and my favorite super technical and radical features that I love to ride the most?

  • No...  While more advanced and exciting features are planned in the future as our target audience matures in skill level, the overall risk management appetite for GnomeWood is low (not medium, not high).  Said another way, your park will be designed with SAFETY as an overarching and consistent design consideration throughout.  Jumps, teeter totters, massive drops with rock gardens and otherwise extremely difficult features are all out of scope.
  • No...  COMBO liability insurance coverage does not cover these types of dangerous features.  Riders demanding the highest, most advanced levels of skills riding are encourage to pursue other parks/environments offered elsewhere.  For example, see Ray's Indoor Mountain Bike Park in Cleveland.  Ray's charges a small admission fee to offset higher insurance costs and also requires that you sign a liability waiver form before you can ride.  GnomeWood will not have an admission fee, nor will require riders sign a liability form before they ride.
  • No... we (Alum Creek, Army Corp of Engineers & COMBO) do no desire a higher-than-expected incident rate at GnomeWood.  High accident rates and subsequent medical treatment/EMT calls to a specific area potentially lead to lawsuits and park closures.  These outcomes are not desired at GnomeWood.

What's with the Future Home of GnomeWood sign?

  • The sign communicates encouraging and thanking curious riders to respectfully choose to NOT ride anywhere within the skills park area while under construction.  You can explore as much as you like on foot, just please not with your bike.  When others see you on your bike within the skills park, they are encouraged to want to ride in also.
  • Construction sites are inherent dangerous places, and do not include the signage needed to ride the park safely.
  • Riding within the construction area damages and misplaces important construct markers and flags that have been meticulously measured and placed there by volunteers who are trying to build your bike park.  Every time markers are moved, needless rework must be performed.  This frustrates volunteers & delays the park opening.