Editor’s note: This post was written by University of Arizona student, Tyler Kurbat.
Nothing is concrete here but that’s how they prefer it.
Less than half a mile south of the University of Arizona lays a seemingly-normal plot of dirt that many Tucson BMX riders call home. Established in 2005, these set of dirt jumps have become a local hot spot known in the cycling community as the Barrio Trails.
“I try to ride out there once a week,” said Tucson BMX advocate and creator of Clickedbmx.com, Mike Hines. “It’s a good place for people to at least meet up and then go ride elsewhere. They may not be the best trails in the world but they’re fun and that’s the whole point of it.”
While skateboarding and other traditional sports continue to gain positive light and facilities around Arizona, the Tucson BMX community has yet to achieve a place to call its own.
“[The trails] are not by the book,” said Barrio Trails creator, Rocky Serna. “Usually a park starts with a non-profit organization and goes through the city and a lot of bureaucracy but that takes a long time and we really wanted something now. It’s a little unorthodox but its actually working.”
According to Hines, similar trails have existed in Tucson but whenever the city catches wind of them they usually get bulldozed.
Serna and the masses of riders that frequent the jumps exert a lot of effort keeping the trails clean, friendly and perhaps most importantly, alive.
Serna promotes the trails by decorating the jumps with stacked river rocks, picking up garbage and even attending neighborhood council meetings in the surrounding area.
“Dirt jumping, or sculpting rather, is really a form of art,” Serna said. “I hope more people come to learn about jumps, understand them and appreciate them. I want people to be pleased with how nice we keep these trails.”
Many passersby are interested in the trails and continue to show their support of the good environment according to Michael Ramirez, creator of Highfivefilms.blogspot.com.
“We’ve also had meetings with the Tucson Bicycle Advisory Committee and they’re behind us now in trying to keep this place up, but things like this kind of get their feet drug when the city gets involved,” Ramirez said.
Serna admits that although the neighborhood and cycling community are involved, lacking an individual with political clout is a huge disadvantage for the cause.
Ramirez and Serna both recently traveled outside of Tucson to ride and have seen hope for their home endeavors. Serna visited his old high school in Portland and was pleased to see that it had designated an area on campus for both bicycles and skateboarding.
“I just got back from Austin and there are a lot of places out there that you can legally ride and it really blew my mind,” Ramirez added. “People that think it’s too far fetched or it will never happen here because it’s not safe are kind of ignorant to the fact that it really does happen, and a prime example is Austin.”
Barrio Trails remain for now, and the trails’ only real guarantee at this point is being a place for growth, according to Serna.
“Seeing kids accomplish goals out there is the best thing in the world,” he said. “One minute they’re scared and the next they’re so excited that they accomplished something that scared them.”
In some ways Serna has the same hopes for the trails — to face adversity and succeed.