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Big Marsh Bike Park opens

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Carved in part out of an industrial wasteland on the Southeast Side, the bike park has just about everything a cyclist could want: zigzagging dirt tracks, wooden ramps, stairs and sand pits, for everyone from kids to cyclo-cross competitors to BMX pros. The park is planning to host races — its first is later this month, on Black Friday — and has a goal in the next five years of staging the U.S. championship in cyclo-cross, an off-road cycling sport growing in popularity.

The bike park is situated in South Deering, less than a half-hour from downtown, and provides respite from city life. No cars honking. No skyscrapers. The remaining area of the 278-acre site is undergoing habitat restoration with birds returning, including a pair of yellow-headed blackbirds, a species that has not been seen at Big Marsh for more than 20 years, according to the Chicago Park District.