Summer mountain biking is returning to Mount Washington Alpine Resort.

Summer mountain biking is returning to Mount Washington Alpine Resort.

Mountain biking returns to Mount Washington Alpine Resort this summer

Following a three-year hiatus, the chairlifts will once again be spinning this summer for lift-accessed mountain biking at Mount Washington Alpine Resort.

The trail crew has been working steadily throughout the spring for an anticipated mid-July opening. They have been using new techniques to re-build some of the old trails and working to add new trails to the range of offerings.

Mike Manara, who is responsible for the design and construction of the Bike Park, recently spent three days riding over 100 kilometres of trail in the Park City, Utah area.

While there, he met with Charlie Sturgis, the head of the Mountain Trails Foundation, to discuss their trail network, which the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) designated five years ago as the world’s first Gold Level Ride Destination.

The meetings focused on new trail design and building techniques that helped Park City achieve its vaulted IMBA status – there are still only five Gold Level destinations in the world.

This is not the first trail research Manara has done. “By spending time with industry partners we have been working on best practices with our connections at Whistler Bike Park and Silver Star to absorb knowledge from the top Parks in the industry,” he says.

His objective has been to bring these best practices in the mountain biking world back to the trails at Mount Washington.

Manara’s trip to Utah was at the invitation of the resort’s new owners, Pacific Group Resorts, Inc. (PGRI.) One of the principals of PGRI has been involved in the ongoing efforts to make Park City a world-class mountain biking destination, so biking is something they understand intimately. An estimated $250,000 will be invested into the mountain biking trails at Mount Washington this summer with enhancements planned for each year thereafter.

Manara says the trip was extremely worthwhile. “We rode an amazing array of terrain; flow trails, gravity trails, cross-country trails, bike parks, skills parks and pump tracks. I even had the chance to ride the brand new WOW! Trail which is 14 kilometres of some of the best downhill trail I have ever ridden. When you go to a place like that with such a variety of top-quality riding, you can’t help but be inspired to bring back great ideas we can use here.”

Manara is an avid and experienced mountain biker. He has been involved with the trails in Cumberland for the last 15 years and is one of the founders and longtime president of the United Riders of Cumberland (UROC) in the Comox Valley. He has seen the explosion in the number of riders so he understands how important the trails are to the success of Mount Washington’s mountain biking offering.

“I am hands on with the crew,” Manara explained. “We are finding new ways to build great trails at the resort, including using smaller machines which require less reclamation work.

“This means the overall time spent on the trail work is more productive and less impactful on the environment, while producing more interesting riding because it can have a better flow with the terrain.”

The team is made up of 12 builders who share the same ideas and values of building fast, flowy, smooth and fun trails on Vancouver Island. “The crew building the trails are riders,” stated Manara. “It is important that the people building the trails understand the flow and style that makes the experience great for a rider.”

Mario Fehrenberg and Scott Stansbury from Cumberland are on the Mount Washington trail crew. Both builders are especially proud of their work on the trail called Vanilla, a flow trail that is part of the Cumberland system. Joining them are Bill McLane from Nanaimo and Jeremy Baker from Courtenay.

McLane worked on the trails for “Builder,” a mountain biking trail film. Baker helped build the original “Monster Mile,” one of Mount Washington’s signature trails, in 1997. Fehrenberg, Manara’s right hand man, noted, “We’re having a blast putting together the trails this time around. There are definitely huge improvements, and we’re making sure they are dialed and work great for the riders.”

“We are rebuilding the trail-system in three phases,” noted Manara. “The first phase has been focusing on sculpting a new Bike Park entrance to the Hawk Chair with a series of berms that will be fun for every skill level.

“Additionally, our beginner trail Green Line is being reworked and Back in Black has received a face lift. In phase two, we are connecting a number of trails into one new line which will create the first new intermediate run; Hot Wheels.

“Phase three will see the top sections of the mountain linked together in a new way.  We are also rebuilding a scenic 10 km cross-country (XC) bike loop with a modest total elevation change of 200 metres, The Finger Trail, which can be ridden from the base area without requiring lift access.”

The weather the first few weeks of June, while being a rainy challenge, has been an opportunity to see how the work that has be completed sets up in the alpine environment.

Fehrenberg explains, “When it rains, we build bridges over sensitive terrain and source out areas of possible erosion so we can create a more sustainable trail using grade reversals and low impact drainage.

“We want the trails to be here for the long-term so they need to be able to stand up to the weather in our region.  It works out well for the riders, too, because it gives us natural opportunities to create the flow that today’s mountain bikers have so much fun riding.”

With four to six lift serviced, gravity fed trails expected for opening day, Mount Washington will have an experience available for every skill level and style of rider. The downhill and cross-country mountain biking trail systems will continue to expand throughout the summer season.

Peter Gibson, General Manager at Mount Washington, commented “We are thrilled to be back in the bike business. The trails are looking amazing and having Mike heading up the team gives us a lot of confidence that the trail system will be top notch.”

“The decision to reintroduce the Bike Park wasn’t taken lightly,” Don Sharpe, Director of Business Operations at the resort divulged this week.

“Our new owners are committed to a successful long-term plan for summer development, so they wanted to make sure that whatever we did was sustainable. We have all been working on bringing mountain biking back to Mount Washington since last November.”

Best practices from around the mountain biking world, sustainable trails, and bigger smiles on the riders’ faces from fast and flowing trails.  Mount Washington’s trail builders may have hit on a winning formula.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Comox bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault near Highland Secondary

Cumberland is surrounded by trees — and logging. Its council is supporting a call to stop old-growth logging in vulnerable areas of the province such as Fairy Creek. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Cumberland backs request to save B.C.’s old-growth forests

The Comox Youth Climate Council is asking local governments to take stand

Danita Bilozaze and her daughter Dani in Comox. Photo by Karen McKinnon
Valley woman makes historic name change for truth and reconciliation

First in Canada to be issued new passport under the TRC Calls to Action

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Comox woman on fence books vaccine due to brother’s death

Leela Harrop says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Most categories of crime held steady from year to year in Cumberland. File photo
Cumberland crime numbers hold steady year to year

A few categories had notable changes but many were similar to 2019

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The following is a list of restaurants offering take-out and patio dining. ADOBE STOCK IMAGE
List of Comox Valley restaurants offering take-out, patio dining options

Restaurants in the Comox Valley continue to adapt to government-imposed restrictions in… Continue reading

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Rules against RV living hard on Island residents caught in housing crunch

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

Pall Bearers carrying the coffin of the Duke of Edinburgh, followed by the Prince of Wales, left and Princess Anne, right, into St George’s Chapel for his funeral, at Windsor Castle, in Windsor, England, Saturday April 17, 2021. (Danny Lawson/Pool via AP)
Trudeau announces $200K donation to Duke of Edinburgh award as Prince Philip laid to rest

A tribute to the late prince’s ‘remarkable life and his selfless service,’ the Prime Minister said Saturday

Most Read