Mount Washington's Mountain Bike Explosion
If there’s one activity that describes Mount Washington Alpine Resort in the summer, it’s mountain biking. The sport has exploded during the Vancouver Island resort’s summer season, says Resort Ski School Director Mike Manara, the man in charge of mountain biking in the summer. The number of summer season’s pass holders doubled between 2006 and 2007, and they’re already on pace to have a good season in 2008, he said.
Mount Washington Alpine Resort starts thinking mountain biking the day the winter season closes. That’s when the Cat crew plows maintenance roads and bike trails. The Bike Park is slated to open by the end of June.
Mount Washington’s trail crews do a great job of keeping the mountain bike trails updated and in keeping with the latest trends in the sport, Manara said.
The weather creates a unique challenge: even as late as June 9, it was snowing at the Resort. In 2007, the Monster Mile - Mount Washington’s premier courses - was carved through snowbanks for the beginning of the season.
The Monster Mile, incidentally, has become known as one of the toughest competition trails in Western Canada, Manara said. “People have been racing on it since the early ’90s…we had to get that open for training purposes. Hats off to the trail crews because they were out there shoveling right away.”
The Resort is developing more mountain bike trails on the Hawk side of the mountain, because they can get the trails open earlier in the season – and they’ll be easier to work with because they are at a lower elevation, Manara explained.
The Tread Shed will be back for Summer 2008, featuring a one-stop mountain bike shop. Cyclists can find guides, lessons, rentals, equipment, accessories and tune-ups at the Shed.
That’s the participatory part of mountain biking. There’s also a few events planned for the 2008 season that people will want to come out and watch.
Last year the Resort hosted the Tim Hortons National Mountain Bike Championships.
This year they cap it with the B.C. Cup Provincial Finals August 30-31. “For us to be able to hold a provincial title is a big honour,” Manara said.
The Bearclaw Invitational Slopestyle, which drew 5,000 spectators last year, is back August 23. The Norco Learn to Ride week is July 7-11. The Resort holds a Jump Jam September 7, and Back to Bike School September 8-12.
The mountain bike season ends September 20 with the Sleemans Downhill Race.
Although the sport is still quite young, it’s growing at Mount Washington. One of the things the Resort has done to manage growth, says Manara, is join the organization Bike Parks of B.C. It’s a partnership program with Tourism BC and comprises a collective of western Canadian resorts wanting to promote their bike parks and other amenities. “Because it’s still such a young sport, it’s neat to see it in terms of growing,” he says.
“They help us as a group to bring the best of the province together and showcase what B.C. has to offer.”