"It's never too cold to get on your bikes and be active."
Granby Elementary School physical education teacher Rick Armstrong shouted those words of encouragement to the nearly 100 students who attended Monday afternoon to celebrate the grand opening of the Gators Bike Park.
From toddlers with training wheels to older students and a few adults on mountain bikes, many cyclists traversed the school's new bike path and challenged themselves to obstacle courses and a section of pump track to inaugurate the new park.
The highlight of the day was Granby principal Patti Schlaegel, who pedaled her mountain bike through a path cleared by cheering students and onto the bike path, knocking down the ceremonial ribbon as she rode into the wooded park.
Phase 1 of the park is a quarter-mile path through the woods next to the school. Riders quickly discover it is more than a cleared path; it's a series of hills, ladder bridges, rock bridges, dips and curves.
The path was made by an ambitious group of volunteers, including parents, staff members and students. They started last spring and finished in late summer.
Since then, the path has been heavily used, both during and after school.
Kids are riding their bikes to school, and a second bike rack might have to be installed.
Kids who cannot ride to school have their parents drop off their bikes in the morning.
Gary Moore, former Worthington physical education teacher and owner of SuperGames, donated 15 mountain bikes to the school.
The bike park is not just for students, either, Armstrong said.
"This will be a recreational facility, not just for Granby but for the community at large," he said.
Fundraising has started for phase 2 -- a pump track to be installed next to the riding path.
Armstrong described a pump track as a roller coaster for bikes. A temporary pump track installed for the grand opening saw a lot of action, with youngsters eager to try out the undulating track.
Schlaegel tried it, too.
"I went over the first hill; then I aborted," she said.
The pump track will be a first for the area, an attraction for cyclists who want to try something new, Armstrong said.
"Phase 2 will be the wow factor," he said.