Gators Bike Park Fosters Outdoor Fun for Young Riders

Founded by a Worthington teacher, the venue aims to expand its facilities and get more kids involved.

Marlie Griffith
Gators Bike Park offers mountain biking trails through the woods.

Rick Armstrong, a physical education teacher at Granby Elementary School in Worthington, has a passion for biking and teaching kids how to have fun. What began as his after-school mountain bike club has grown into the local phenomenon that is Gators Bike Park. The park, located in the woods on school property, includes a loop track, a flow trail and a race team.

The project’s main objective is to provide students with a safe environment in which to learn to ride. “[As a kid] I did everything on a bike,” Armstrong recalls fondly. “But kids nowadays don’t really have that opportunity.”

The goal of Gators Bike Park is for young riders to have fun learning something new. By providing a team mentality between bikers and coaches in a traffic-free space, the park has achieved success.

But like the lessons he teaches his students, Armstrong is constantly pushing to improve his work. The park’s biggest expansion yet, which is expected to start this summer, will include a community recreation space and a 53-foot by 53-foot modular pump track. TrailGators Booster Association, the park’s nonprofit arm, in partnership with the Worthington City School District and the Columbus Recreation and Parks Department, is fundraising for the project. The goal: $250,000. The team hopes this latest addition will reach even more families and draw them to the sport.

Beyond teaching young bikers how to safely navigate the trails and find their rhythm, Gators Bike Park seeks to create a culture of community. The race team, which now has more than 200 members and 25 coaches, is a close-knit group. “The environment is one thing we do well,” says Armstrong. “Oftentimes I’ll refer to it as a two-wheel party.”

To learn more about Gators Bike Park, go to thetrailgators.org.

A shorter version of this story appears in “Parent Pulse” in the Spring 2021 issue of Columbus Parent.

Rick Armstrong with the Gators Bike Park team, in prepandemic times