Saturday, October 18, 2014 will be the date that began a great journey for us and The Big Marsh. We launched an information session laden with tours and racing exposing a mere glimpse of possibilities with a simple 1.5 mile handbuilt course made up of singletrack, gravel, grassy knolls, and trail features unique to the surroundings of The Big Marsh.

What's Out There!

This could not have been made possible without the incredible volunteer assistance provided by the below groups’ participants.

Trails for Illinois
Twin Six ‘METAL’ Team Members
Jen Agan from Your Soigneur
Tuxedo Thunder Team Members
Comrade Cycles Team Members
The Garden Jumps Trail Builders
Heritage Bicycle Works

This event is also owed to the generosity of the following business who committed to the event with prizes and services.

Cycle Smithy
Clif Bar
Lagunitas Chicago Taproom (via Village Verdigris Cycling)
Joshua and Molly Shough (EMT Support)
Trails for Illinois

It took upwards of 500 hours across nearly 30 volunteers over four weeks to form less than 1% of the vacant and overgrown site into the Big Marsh Mashdown event. The enthusiasm was there with every volunteer, every business, and every participant who came out to hear the news of the plans for the bike park. We are ecstatic to be involved with this project and are grateful and thankful to all those who trusted us to come out with a shovel to work or for a tour to explore. At the end of the race, after all the small costs were tallied and monies raised calculated, we estimate that almost $2,000 will go back to the Friends of the Big Marsh Fund as the first major donation for the Big Marsh.

The Bonebell started 7 years ago with the intention to bring greater notoriety and exposure to the efforts of the small but mightily available Dirtbag community. Year after year we have worked towards highlighting regional trails, community groups like CAMBr, and racing opportunities from regional race promoters. And every year you responded with growth and participation in off-road cycling. Opportunities have exploded not only across Chicago but across the Midwest and even nationally. We have stuck to our motto – “Your source for dirt” and have exclusively focused on off-road cycling because we love every aspect of our recreation and sport. We believe that The Big Marsh holds the key to future possibilities like:

    -Youth racing leagues in Chicago school districts
    -Year round weekly racing schedules for MTB and Cyclocross
    -BMX competitions
    -Family friendly routes for group riding across 278 acres of recreational trails

These are all genuine opportunities, and we look forward to inviting you to participate across many levels over the course of the coming year. We are proud of Chicago and its ability to foster growth for cyclists from both an urban and nature preserve scale, and we believe this project is what can bring these two worlds together for the sake of future cycling generations.

Event photos taken by The Bonebell photographer Amy Dykema – Set 1 & Set 2

Big Marsh Chicago
Bonebell & SRAM

Thank you for joining us for the Big Marsh Mashdown! We are excited to give you a preview of what’s to come at Big Marsh and promote the beginnings of a world-class bike park on Chicago’s southeast side. Here are some things to know for Saturday:

Tour participants:
Please check in at The Bonebell tent prior to your tour. Plan to arrive early, as tours will begin promptly at 10 a.m. (hiking) and 11 a.m. (biking). The tours have space, so bring friends!

Race participants:
Please visit registration at The Bonebell tent to sign a waiver and get your number at least 30 minutes before your race. Day-of registration will be available as space allows. This is an any-off-road-bike race course, keeping in the spirit of Big Marsh Bike Park being designed for a variety of off-road bicycles. Expect gravel, dirt, grass and logs. If you have a fleet of bikes to choose from we advise against racing your A-game equipment, particularly fancy wheels and tubulars. And don’t forget your helmet!

What to bring:

  • Drinking water: There will be port-a-johns but there is no on-site plumbing.
  • Food / snacks: If you’d like some munchies before or after your race.
  • A bag for trash: There are no on-site receptacles, please carry in/carry out.
  • Safety pins: To secure your race number. Numbers go on the RIGHT.
  • Foot protection: Wear boots or sturdy shoes for walking on uneven surfaces.
  • Cash or check: Raffle tickets will be $5 each or five for $20.

We have awesome raffle items donated by SRAM, Cycle Smithy, The Bonebell, ABUS, Clif Bar, Lagunitas Brewing Co and Trader Joe’s, including the top prize of a full SRAM CX1 Group! The raffle will take place at 1:45 p.m. and proceeds benefit Friends of Big Marsh. And special thanks to Heritage Bicycles for sending their coffee truck to keep us warm and caffeinated!

Exploring the park:
We are encouraged to roam the park and see what’s out there. Please stay on the gravel drives, stay out of fenced areas, don’t disturb rocks and plants, and don’t go in the water. Share your findings with the tags #whatsoutthere and #BigMarsh!

Getting to Park No. 564 at 1958 E. 116th St.:
You must access the park from 103rd Street. From eastbound 103rd St., make a right turn/u-turn on Doty Ave. Turn left onto Stony Island Ave. at the old Calumet Incinerator sign. Follow Stony Island Ave. south to the cones at 11599 S. Stony Island Ave. and turn left into the park. If driving, please park single file along the south side of the main access road, or pull onto the big dirt lots if your car is up for a little adventure.

From I-94 E: The exit for 103rd St. is closed. Follow the detour to 111th St. that loops your back around to I-94 W and get off at 103rd St. going east.

From 95th St. CTA red line: Take State St. south to 103rd St., head east. (5.5 miles to the park.)

By bicycle: Halsted St., State St. and Jeffery Blvd. are all good north/south routes. We advise against riding on Stony Island Ave. north of 103rd St.

Any questions? Contact the

To learn more about the park, visit Donate to Friends of Big Marsh here.

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