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Trail maintenance underway for mountain biking season

 | June 26, 2011

Ever wonder how Sun Peaks transforms from a ski hill in the winter to a mountain biking paradise in the summer? With a lot of hard work and elbow grease. A month and a half before the June 30 opening day, Sun Peaks Resort’s trail maintenance crew was already hard at work making the bike park look spiffy.

In the spring, the bike park’s 29 trails and dirt jumping zone are inspected for any damage or erosion from the winter. The jumps, lips and berms also get a facelift for the season. Last year alone, 9,000 mountain bikers visited the trails at Sun Peaks, which means the trails need to be in tiptop shape to handle more than their fair share of enthusiastic riding.

“It takes about six weeks and that includes buffing, or trail tread maintenance, fixing of the dirt features, repairs of the wood features and the overall signage that goes into the mountain bike park,” explained Ken Hammell, Sun Peaks Resort’s risk management and safety programs director.

In addition to regular preventative maintenance, this year the crew is performing trail flow enhancement projects. This includes more berms on the blue trails including Barn Burner, Root Dog and Route 66. New riders will be happy to know that a beginner skills practice area will be built at the bottom of the Biker Cross Course.

People might be surprised to learn that the Bike Park trail maintenance crew is made up of only four hardworking guys. During the season, they’re assisted by the five mountain bike patrollers. And while some of the more complex work is done with the help of machinery, most of it’s done using shovels and rakes. Considering there are 29 trails on the mountain to build, repair and sculpt, this work isn’t an easy feat.

The trail maintenance crew starts with a general survey of the trails to see what condition they’re in.

“Every trail on the mountain is walked,” said Hammell. “They rake it to ensure there’s no major drainage difficulties on it.”

Then the real nitpicky work begins. Berms and dirt features are raked, restacked, and packed and rocks are removed. Trees on the trails are removed, wooden structures are checked for integrity and any faulty or damaged features that are found are replaced.

“The water drainage alongside the trails is enhanced as well. So that means cleaning the ditches out with a shovel, and using the materials from that drainage ditch to enhance the trail tread that people ride on.”

Without all of this work, mountain bikers won’t have this adrenaline pumping variety of trails to enjoy.

For riders (or would-be riders) who’d like to move on to the next level of mountain biking, there are a variety of ways to get there.

This year, professional bike rider Matt Hunter and Graham Agassiz are returning to Sun Peaks to help young riders hone their freeriding skills.
There are also two new camps offered: the Junior Girls Freeride Camp and the Masters Mountain Bike Camp. Just add some sunshine and it’s looking like another great season for riding!

For more information, visit www.sunpeaksresort.com

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