See You Next Summer We're Skiing!
New trail crew brings fast and flowy trails to the Resort
Fun, flowy, smooth and fast is the new mantra
COMOX VALLEY, VANCOUVER ISLAND - Mount Washington Alpine Resort announced lift-served mountain biking would open for the summer season on July 15th after a three year hiatus. "We have been anxious to bring mountain biking back to Mount Washington, but with the deep snow from last winter, we had to wait to get to the top of the runs. Our trail crew shoveled the final remnants of snow off the bike park terrain last week, so we will be able to finish the earthwork and open our Park with some new trails and some old favourites, and we will be opening it in amazing shape," explained Mount Washington’s Bike Park Manager, Mike Manara.
Mount Washington's Bike Park will be open seven days a week from 11:30am to 5:30pm. On Thursdays, the Bike Park will extend the hours until 7pm so more riders can get on the trails after work. Don Sharpe, Director of Business Operations at the resort, touted the Thursday evening lift service, "With the longer daylight hours, it’s really nice to be able to get up during the week and get some riding in later in the day. Those evenings will also feature specials in the restaurant, so it should make for a great way to get the most out of the prime biking season."
"We are taking a little different approach to the trails this year based on changes in mountain bikes and riding techniques which have occurred just over the past few years. We will have a number of new or renovated downhill trails plus 10 kilometers of cross-country mountain biking trails, and they will all have a smoother flow from one feature to the next and be more integrated into the terrain than in the past," noted Manara. "This new version of the Mount Washington Bike Park will give riders of all abilities and tastes something to enjoy. It’s all about fun and flowy."
The Bike Park will open with up to six trails, and more trails will be added during the summer. Among the highlights are the "Green Line," which is the resort’s easiest downhill trail. It is the longest uninterrupted mountain bike descent on Vancouver Island and all levels of bikers will have fun riding it. The venerable "Back in Black" will re-open with the lower part of the trail having been reengineered by its original builder, Tony Radomi.
Manara seemed particularly pleased to introduce two new trails. One is his trail crew's newest flow trail, and the other is the resort’s first cross-country trail. "We have reclaimed and rebuilt some of our past trail system and added in a number of new sections to create a new blue flow trail for intermediate riders named Hwy 19,” Manara announced. In addition, after numerous hikes sourcing out a cross country mountain biking trail, the "Finger Trail" will be designated as the first XC trail in the Bike Park. It is a loop that takes riders out to a spectacular view of the Beaufort Range after a ride past lakes and tall evergreens.
Once Mount Washington's Bike Park is open for the season, the trail crew will spend time maintaining the existing trails while continuing to rebuild some of the original trails on the mountain and creating a few new trails. Next up on the build list for the trail crew are "Helter Skelter," a black technical trail, and "Time Warp," a black flow trail. Each currently has a machine and full crew working on them. Once that work is complete, another one and a half kilometers of blue trail will be added to extend an existing trail. As time and weather permit, the trail crew will then tackle the technical "Monster Mile" downhill trail off the Eagle lift before finishing the summer by adding another blue flow trail and another XC trail.
"We are very pleased to welcome mountain bikers back next week," said Mount Washington's General Manager, Peter Gibson. "The effort the trail crew has put in for the last thirty days is astounding, and it shows in the quality of the trails that are ready to ride."
The Mount Washington Bike Park will open every day from July 15th until September 5th (weather permitting) and for an additional three weekends in September. Accommodation packages, lessons, bike rentals and guided rides are all available. For more information go to www.mountwashington.ca.
COMOX VALLEY, VANCOUVER ISLAND - 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 kilometers 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; he states “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.” 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.
According to Manara, 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 kilometers 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 meters, 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. The bike crew will work on new trails as weather permits. At the same time, they will ensure that the current trails remain in great shape through daily maintenance.
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.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BUILDING CREW
Mike wears two hats at Mount Washington. In the winter he is the resort’s Snow School Director, and in the summer is in charge of Mountain Biking Operations. As President of the United Riders of Cumberland (UROC) in the Comox Valley, he led the negotiations to get a land use agreement with private land owners for the trails in Cumberland. He was the Vancouver Island rep for the Mountain Bike Tourism Association and a recipient of the Lars Fossberg Award presented annually by the Canada West Ski Areas Association to a young manager of a ski area who shows a high degree of initiative and creativity together with the ability to improvise.
His favorite trails are the ones that he has built including Vanilla, Further burger, Wiki, Toothpicks and Grand Queso. His nickname is Trail Jesus because of his long hair and the amount of time spent on the trails. Has put a lot of time on the trails in Cumberland and has a great reputation on the ones that he has worked on.
Bill has been building trail on Vancouver Island since 2005. His work has graced the pages of Decline Magazine, on screen in Scott Seccos “Builder” movie, and on Pinkbike.com in the form of timelapse videos he produces during the building process.
Scott's favourite trails are ones with flow that make me smile. He’s the oldest and wisest guy on the crew at a young fifty-nine. His wife runs the Stansbury Guest house in Cumberland and caters to mtn bikers.
Hometown: Cumberland (originally Calgary)
He has built the iconic “Back in Black; Greenline and Scratch and Sniff”. Has been at the Resort over 15 years and his favorite part of his time at the Resort is building bike trails.
Hometown: Merville (not really he’s Australian)
Arne has been building and riding since the training wheels came off. Wood work is what he loves to do and always stoked on the jumps! He love all trails at the Coast Gravity Park and being part of a rad crew rebuilding the bike park.
What gets you pumped: Being part of a rad crew rebuilding the bike park gets me pumped!
Predictions: Lots of bevies and laps this summer!
Moved to valley about 7 years ago now, and has loved it here ever since. Living in Cumberland, he is right in the heart of the mountain bike action and doing his part to make it better, from revamping old trails with UROC, to building fresh lines with friends. He started Ridgeline crew a couple years back, a group of like-minded riders, and builders. Together they have built "gravity" and "six pack" in Cumberland, helped on some professional film lines, and continue working on some hidden DH gems.He works full time at the Resort and he is excited to be part of the new bike park on Mount Washington, the crew is amazing, and believes the mountain has huge possibilities.
Favourite ride: Love me my Santa Cruz V10, long live freeride!
What gets you pumped: Fast, technical, and throw in rock faces for a bigger smile
Hefé aka Jef Gurney
Hefé was born and raised in the Comox Valley. He started the first MTB specific trails Scarface and Black Diamond back in 1990 at Comox Lake with friends. Some other trails he has built along with his buddies: Sapporo Steeps, Monkey’s Challenge, Salamander, Puntledge Plunge at Comox Lake. Grub, Stub, Cupcake, Baker’s Dozen, Hai Gai, Broadway, Tied Knot, Bucket of Blood, Dodgeballz (RIP), Knuckers (RIP), Rugburn and more recently, helping Ridgeline Crew on Six Pack at Cumberland. He has also done a ton of maintenance to various trails in the Valley.
Hometown: Comox Valley
Favourite ride: 2012 Specialized Stumpjumper FSR EVO Comp (26’er baby!!)
What gets you pumped: Old school technical singletrack, anything that’s fast & flowy under the protection of a forest canopy(I’m a ginger ...a few drops...couple gaps/tables, step downs/step ups...no 90 degree corners going straight uphill...uphill bad
Nick and Peter Dunn
The brothers have recently moved here from Fernie and are pumped to be building at Mount Washington. They moved here to Comox Valley to be closer to the riding that is offered. They have competed in Slope and DH races and understand the style of trail needed for both disciplines. Peter has worked for Crankworx for the past three years. Nick is the former Jr Canadian DH Champion. Their mother is very proud of them.
Joe started building trails as a kid which then grew into working for Moose Mountain Trail Society and Edmonton Trail Dirt Park. Since moving to the Comox Valley Joe has been involved with work on many of the featured trails in and around the Comox Valley and Cumberland area. Joe's desire is to bulld trails that inspire and hopes that this will bring smiles to the thousands of riders he'll never meet. So please enjoy the ride.
Favourite trail: Snakes and Ladders, Williams Lake, BC
What gets you pumped: Riding fresh work
Predictions: Theres a good crew of people building this year, things should be awesome.