Bernie's Report - July 17, 2003

Mountain Biking off the Timber Chair

As of today the Timber Chair is in use for transporting hikers, bikers and sightseers up the mountain. New mountain biking trails have been constructed from the top of the Timber Chair. The main bike trail links the top of the Timber Chair to the top of the Elk Chair so that all the older established trails are still accessible.

Certainly riding the Timber Chair is a more enjoyable experience than riding the Elk Chair. During summer operations the Elk Chair is only capable of operating at 60% speed in order to load and unload. Even then it must be stopped at times to allow passengers to download. These limitations make for a slow ride. The Timber Chair on the other hand, is a detachable high speed chair that is capable of running at full speed and there is not the same requirement for the chair to be stopped to download passengers. More vertical in less time!

The trail from the Timber to Elk Chair has been designed for less experienced and intermediate mountain bike riders. It generally follows the cat tracks. For those of you that are familiar with the ski runs, the trail follows 100 Percent to Highline. A single track section goes down through the bush between Highline and Silver Lining before proceeding onto the Trespass Trail and into Currie Bowl. A new trail (cat tack width) has been constructed across Currie Bowl. This trail wraps around past Stag�s Leap, Skydive, Decline and Easter Bowl and descends into Lizard Bowl near the bottom of Dancer. A single track takes you from this point to the Bear Den.

Even though this trail has been constructed to allow less experienced riders the joy a long downhill ride, there are some tricky sections that some riders will feel more comfortable walking over. Since the trail is new and at higher elevations there is more stone than clay, the surface is loose and rocky. With time and traffic, parts of the trail will pack out and the riding will become easier. I have my doubts that some of the loose rocky sections near the top of the trail will improve greatly without a little help from man. There is very little clay on the higher parts of the trail to help bind the rocks. One rider suggested to me that perhaps a rubber wheeled vehicle pulling a blade could be utilized to move most of the rocks to the edges of the trail without churning up others. Don�t know if this is possible but until many of the loose rocks are removed or packed into a smooth surface I do not believe that inexperienced riders will feel comfortable riding several parts of this trail.

From the top of the Elk Chair, we rode Power Carve back to the Timber Chair and headed up again for a look at the new black diamond trail, Rock Star. This trail essentially follows the ski run Falling Star. (In retrospect �Falling Star� might be a better moniker for this trail since I crashed twice on the way down.) We were riding cross-country bikes as opposed to the full out downhill bikes that have loads of rock-gobbling suspension travel, so we took it pretty easy and my falls were at slow speed. Except for an exceptionally rocky section just above and through the switch back on Falling Star it was a very enjoyable ride. Lots of berms, jumps, steep drops and some single track forested sections. Young guys with big balls. . . Uh! I mean big tires, will just fly down this trail.

All in all, I think that using the Timber Chair for summer access to the mountain is a positive move that enhances the summer hiking and biking activities on the ski hill. The trail crews have obviously worked and hard to construct these trails and they have done a very good job. They have to work with the terrain that is there. They can�t make the hills less steep or the ground less rocky than it is. Mountain biking is, after all, an adventure sport. Like skiing, part of the fun is in the challenge!

Thanks to Derek, a Boomerang Way neighbour, for accompanying me on this ride. What with the concentration required to keep Derek in sight and watching for hazards on the unfamiliar trails I didn�t take many photos. Sorry about that. Next time!

Bernie -

Ted doing the honours at the chain cutting ceremony

Approaching the top, bikes on the chair ahead.

The trail across the top of Puff