Dec 1, 2003 | Marmot, Winter 2003

Mountain Biking was a Ripping Success Last Summer

So much so, that resort Public Affairs Director Dave Hampshire hopes they can host a B.C. Cup mountain bike series race next summer. And they’ve expanded their terrain to open up the sport to novice and intermediate riders.

“We put a significant effort into expanding our trails for next summer,” said Don Sharpe, Director of Business Services at Mount Washington. Last summer crews cut a seven-kilometre cross-country trail accessible off the Hawk and Eagle chairlifts. The Eagle is already equipped to take riders and their bikes to the summit; next year the Hawk will also have chairs dedicated to bikes.

“We may not double, but we’ll be 30 or 40 per cent bigger in the number of trails we’ll have,” Sharpe said.

Until now all mountain biking has been for advanced riders, but the Resort wants to attract beginners and families, Hampshire said. “With these new trails we can do that.”

“We’re going to dramatically increase the amount of rentals we have,” he said. In the summer, the Mountain Tek building becomes a bike repair and rental shop (in the winter it’s a ski demo shack). Next year, Hampshire said, they hope to turn it into a demo centre for a certain brand of bikes (likely Norco, although he couldn’t confirm that).

The mountain bike racing series were a success too. The second annual Island Triple Throw Down was a Cycle BC-sanctioned race featuring the three disciplines of cycling: downhill, cross-country and side-by-side, or dual, racing.
“What we’re doing with that series is punching our tickets with Cycle BC so we can bid for a larger race,” Hampshire said. Their plans are to host a B.C. Cup race next summer.

Last summer the Resort introduced the Hump Day Gravity Series, a local Wednesday night mountain bike series that culminated in cash prizes. It was also a hit with the two-wheeled crowd. “We’re trying to find new ways to attract that kind of business.”

Carving new terrain is not the only way the Resort is responding to the growing popularity of mountain biking. Resort General Manager Peter Gibson visited Whistler-Blackcomb in the summer to check out their set-up, taking his own trail-builders along too.

Gibson was impressed with the calibre of individuals who partake in the sport, as well as the infrastructure at Whistler. “This summer they had 80,000 people pay to ride their bike trails,” he said.

He feels a similar program is attainable at Mount Washington. “We want to be classified as one of the top 10 in North America over the next few years with our bike trail plans.”

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