The chairlifts at Mount Washington – known for taking skiers and snowboarders up the side of the mountain to enjoy some of the best winter conditions anywhere in North America – will be spinning this summer taking bikes and riders up to enjoy the fruits of Mike Manara and his team’s recent hard work.
Manara is the resort’s Snow School Director in the winter, but he is also in charge of the resort’s Mountain Biking Operations – responsible for the design, construction and rebuild of the mountain biking trail system on the mountain – and he is very much looking forward to showing it off to the riding public after a three-year hiatus of their mountain biking program.
“The decision to reintroduce the Bike Park wasn’t taken lightly,” says Don Sharpe, director of business operations at the resort. “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.”
And back it will be. Manara and his team have been researching, repairing and building for months now, traveling to some of the best downhill facilities in North America for ideas and advice.
Manara was recently afforded the chance to spend three days riding in Park City, Utah, for example, at one of only five International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Gold Level facilities in the world.
“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 says.
It’ll help that there’s money being put into the project. Mount Washington is planning for an estimated $250,000 to be invested in the park this summer with ongoing enhancements coming every year thereafter.
The first phase – of three – of the bike park rebuild was focused on the park entrance at the Hawk Chair. The team started that section with a series of berms that Manara says “will be fun for every skill level.”
Additionally, Manara says, the mountain’s easiest trail, “Green Line,” (also Vancouver Island’s longest uninterrupted mountain bike descent, according to Mount Washington), has also been reworked, as has the more demanding “Back in Black.”
Phase two of the rebuild will entail connecting a number of the old trails into one new line to create the park’s first intermediate run, called “Hot Wheels.”
Phase three will see the top sections of the mountain addressed, along with a rebuild of the park’s scenic 10 km cross-country bike loop, “The Finger Trail,” which can be ridden from the base area without taking a chairlift.
It’s not like they don’t know what the park needs. Manara and his crew are all avid riders themselves, and have many, many years of experience doing exactly this.
“It’s important that the people building the trails understand the flow and style that makes the experience great for the rider,” Manara says.
Mount Washington’s general manager, Peter Gibson, says they are “thrilled to be back in the bike business. “The amount of work the crew has put in is astounding, and it shows in the quality of the trails that are ready to ride.”
The bike park is be open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., except for Thursdays when the park will remain open until 7 p.m. to give people a chance to get up there for a few hours after work.
Day passes for the park are $45 or $29 for children under 12. Evening passes are $20 or $10 for children after 4 p.m.