Opinion: The obvious connection is dismissed from the latest IMBA report card article- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
    LW_
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    Idea! Opinion: The obvious connection is dismissed from the latest IMBA report card article

    Attention ski area managers and bike park enthusiasts:
    Why should it be obvious that West Virginia ranks up w/ BC as most favorable MTB climate?

    The obvious connection that isn't mentioned is INTRAWEST. As much as I hate the over-commercialized corporate feeling of whistler lately, they have done an excellent job w/ their bike park.

    To my knowledge the first "real" ski area MTB park in the US is a much tamer version of BC's showcase now located in west virginia at the Snowshoe ski area also owned by intrawest. (Sure we've had other ski areas w/ lift access for years but how many of those built the custom trails worthy of your 50lb DH machine and fed your need for air-time?)

    Read the fine-print in the BC review and you'll see that other US ski areas are anxious to build their own. But how many will open this summer? I haven't seen any announcements in my northwest state. Let the wave come, its long overdue.

    In the meantime, we'll continue our 5-7 hour roadtrips to BC to feed our addiction when the local xc trails get monotonous, spending our $$$ out of country

    >>
    For the first time, a state east of the Mississippi River has taken
    top-honors in the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Report
    Card. West Virginia received the highest grade in the 2004 edition of IMBA's
    annual survey of mountain biking. Internationally, British Columbia retained
    its position from last year as the ultimate global mountain biking location.
    >>

    Disclaimer: I am not employed by anything related to the bike industry or the mountain resort industry. Just a local rider in Oregon on the lookout for new and better trail opportunities. I've never been to the snowshoe bike park. I have ridden BC trails for about 5 years now around the shore, maple ridge, burnaby, squamish, and whistler. In addition to a big heavy bike I still ride a skinny tire hardtail at home and enjoy long trails w/ climbs too... I've paid IMBA dues for a few years now and contribute regular volunteer trail building and maint work in cooperation w/ local land managers.
    Last edited by LW_; 01-06-2005 at 02:42 PM.

  2. #2
    JmZ
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    Ahh, but is it a slippery slope?

    The one, and really only issue, I have with ski resorts and bike parks (Like Ray's in Cleveland) is the idea of pay to play.

    I don't mind there being something special that makes it worthwhile for me to pay a season pass, a user fee, or an admission. The Ski resorts/bike resorts and Rays meet this criteria.

    What I have a lot harder time swallowing is the idea that I need to pay my local park, my county park, my state park, and my federal park each money for a pass for permission to ride. I am terrified that resorts like Whistler and Snowshoe can be seen as an ideal for parks to follow with a user fee required to participate.

    Many of these parks have trails only through the availibilty and efforts of local volunteers and these volunteers are expected to help fight budget shortfalls in Washington, in the halls of the State Senates and even Downtown.

    To bring it back to a point. I'm not as quick to herald Intrawest as the best thing out there for cyclists. Ski resorts cater to a distinct crowd. Those with disposable income that ski or ride infrequently. (I understand this has bunches to do with the weather, but the point is still the same.) I don't personally think this is the best model for us to follow. I wish Intrawest all the best, but I don't want to see advocacy shift focus to a pay to play arena.

    One of the biggest fears I have is that mountain biking will become like golf, and to ride anywhere good you will need to pay your 'green fees'.

    JmZ



    Quote Originally Posted by LW_
    Attention ski area managers and bike park enthusiasts:
    Why should it be obvious that West Virginia ranks up w/ BC as most favorable MTB climate?

    The obvious connection that isn't mentioned is INTRAWEST. As much as I hate the over-commercialized corporate feeling of whistler lately, they have done an excellent job w/ their bike park.

    To my knowledge the first "real" ski area MTB park in the US is a much tamer version of BC's showcase now located in west virginia at the Snowshoe ski area also owned by intrawest. (Sure we've had other ski areas w/ lift access for years but how many of those built the custom trails worthy of your 50lb DH machine and fed your need for air-time?)

    Read the fine-print in the BC review and you'll see that other US ski areas are anxious to build their own. But how many will open this summer? I haven't seen any announcements in my northwest state. Let the wave come, its long overdue.

    In the meantime, we'll continue our 5-7 hour roadtrips to BC to feed our addiction when the local xc trails get monotonous, spending our $$$ out of country

    >>
    For the first time, a state east of the Mississippi River has taken
    top-honors in the International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) Report
    Card. West Virginia received the highest grade in the 2004 edition of IMBA's
    annual survey of mountain biking. Internationally, British Columbia retained
    its position from last year as the ultimate global mountain biking location.
    >>

    Disclaimer: I am not employed by anything related to the bike industry or the mountain resort industry. Just a local rider in Oregon on the lookout for new and better trail opportunities. I've never been to the snowshoe bike park. I have ridden BC trails for about 5 years now around the shore, maple ridge, burnaby, squamish, and whistler. In addition to a big heavy bike I still ride a skinny tire hardtail at home and enjoy long trails w/ climbs too... I've paid IMBA dues for a few years now and contribute regular volunteer trail building and maint work in cooperation w/ local land managers.
    JmZ

    From one flat land to another.

    Advocate as if your ride depends on it...

  3. #3
    LW_
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    JmZ,
    Thanks for the additional feedback. "Free" trails will always be a critical element of mountain biking. It may become a slippery slope toward "pay to play" in the future, but for now I see only a small handful of ski areas making the effort to really develop the park theme to its potential, so I still hope that more will catch on and do the same.

    I may be naive, but I think most of the US if not the majority of north america lives at minimum a couple hours from their nearest ski area. I only hope they live a lot closer than that to their local trails that they frequent most for those "after work" and saturday morning rides that sustain us the majority of the year when we're not traveling to more exotic riding destinations for longer escapes. I for one would love to have a sanctioned park built closer to home for more regular access.

    Perhaps a better correlation to draw for BC and West Virginia is that they are seen to span the breadth of riding opportunities best. From remote xc trails w/ nobody around to charge fees or spoil the view but also the "mecca" of the developed park which often allows the safest access (nearby ambulance facilities) to the more physically/mentally demanding side of the sport thats evolved as "freeriding". (Physically demanding in terms of bike handling skills, mentally demanding in terms of letting go to allow the bike to take you where you never imagined possible; very different from the physical/mental aspects of xc riding)

    Whether its breadth of opportunity though or depth of freeriding opportunities it seems to me that there really is no option to be widely held as "best mtb environment" until an area has developed its freeriding, whether in a no-charge environment like the Shore or in a pay environment like a ski area bike park. Given the land use issues and tendency toward illegal trails in the freeriding space I'm happy to see the ski areas step in and do it smart and safer even if they do charge for lift tickets to recover their costs.

    -LW

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