VIGO Co., Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — Tens of thousands come from all around the state of Indiana, the country and even the world to strap on their helmets and hit the Griffin Bike Park trails.
“We’ve had people from Alaska, We’ve had people from Canada, we had couple who came from new Zealand,” said park founder, Gene Griffin.
Before it became one of the world’s top destinations for bikers, it was only an idea.
Gene and Dona Griffin lost their son dale in Afghanistan in 2009 and wanted to find a way to keep his memory alive.
“Well, our kids were asking. They were saying ‘what do you think we could do to remember dale in this area?’ And that’s when the idea of a bike, it was really bike trails. Do you think we could build some bike trails?” said Dona Griffin.
The seemingly small concept grew into 300 acres of hills, twists and lots of jumps. It covers 18 miles of tracks and trails for bikers of all ages and skill sets.
“People come just to jump. They come just to go on the pump tracks. They come to do the short track races,” Gene Griffin said.
The park also remembers fallen Hoosier heroes, along the popular Warrior Trail.
On each side you’ll find their names and photos, leading to a memorial for Dale Griffin.
“We like to memorialize all the soldiers we’ve lost since 9/11. That’s what our park’s about,” said Park Manager Rich Moore.
He said the Warrior Trail was first inspired by a young girl in a wheelchair.
“We decided to build a trail that she could ride, so we built one with adaptive equipment in mind. It’s a little wider. [We] took out all the roots and all the nasty humps and we made something even Wounded Warriors with hand bikes can ride,” Moore said.
The park won’t be hitting the brakes just yet. Moore hopes it will continue to grow and give visitors more than they could imagine.
Griffin Bike Park is free and open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.