Bikers share the story of Sherwood Forest
At Sherwood Forest, there are a lot of things.
At the small stretch of wilderness bordered by the Fortification Creek and Seventh Street, there are discarded Kum & Go cups, plastic food wrappers, tread marks in every direction, plump mounds of piled dirt and overgrown grass.
Some things are noticeable by their omission – parents, guardians, helmets and other common forms of safety.
There’s a 9-foot-tall wooden ramp, which started life as a stage and now acts as a memorial for Chris Wilson. Wilson died last November, and the stage where his band practiced was transplanted from a garage to the Forest.
There also are the bikers, buzzing around the course like bees, silent but for the hum of tire tread on packed dirt, and the jangling of chains after a successful jump.
The boys, aged 14 to 17, wear the same look – pierced ears, shaggy hair, backward baseball caps and ripped blue jeans.
And they all come to the Forest for the same reason.
“I’m out here almost every day,” said Dustin Camp, 17. “I come out just to hang out with friends.”
Kyle Hammer, 14, of Hayden, comes to the Forest when his mother comes to Craig for work.
“We only have a little skate park in Hayden,” he said. “Every chance I get, I come here.”
Errol Ormesher, 14, also of Hayden, is new to the park this summer.
“I started biking because I don’t have anything else to do,” he said. “It’s just a small concrete park (in Hayden). This is fun; this gives me something to do.”
Ormesher’s bike is cannibalized from several others. Each part, he said, is from a different source.
“I kind of need a better bike,” he said. “This one is a bit of everything.”
While pedaling around the course and bouncing off the 5-foot-tall dirt ramps, with brambles on one side and rocks on the other, none of the three boys said they had been hurt.
“Landing on dirt isn’t as bad as falling on concrete,” Hammer said. “You don’t get road rash.”
Sherwood Forest is not a park. It is a city-owned plot of land where bikers have made and maintained the jumps, large mounds of dirt piled up and dissected by a path.
The city may own run the Forest, but it’s the kids who run it.
Each of the jumps is named, but none of the riders knew how each acquired its handle.
Some – tabletop, box, pit – are self-explanatory, while others, like Walker and butterfly, are not.
Camp has been busying himself with the construction of a new jump. He said its name hasn’t been decided but that the Forest’s biking occupants would come up with one.
“We’ll call it whatever we call it,” he said. “We don’t really pick names.”
Camp, armed with just a shovel and an idea of what the ramp will look like, said building the jump would take about a week.
“It’s not like you can bring a tractor in here,” Hammer said. “You just get some of your friends and some shovels and come out here.”
Because it is not a park, there are no hours of operation or rules.
Not much has changed since the early 1960s, when Mike Brinks played in the Forest.
Even the jumps aren’t new – there were dirt piles back then, too.
“There were a lot more trees back then,” he said. “And just one path.”
Brinks added that his mother didn’t want him to go to the Forest because of bullies and “hoods,” though many of the latter were children playing games.
“We used to go down there to play Robin Hood,” he said. “We never found any rich to take from, though.”
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