The word is officially out, we are opening early. Each time I say that, read it, or hear it my stomach does a little double cork. The “Gutnastics” are like a smoothie in a blender, mixing two parts excitement with a dash of trepidation, a sprinkle of stoke and a healthy dose of worry. What could I possibly be worried about? The snow has been absent from the Park for over a month but as you can see from the list of tasks in the photo above, we have a massive amount of work to do for a May 2nd opening. The image of the worker board is only the list for the hand crew, there are dozens of additional tasks for the machine crew (which also require the hand crew to polish once the machines are done).
Once again the true task of opening and operating a Bike Park comes down to water management. In this year’s episode we are not faced with water of the frozen kind or with last summer’s unprecedented dryness (yet) but with a strange middle ground of – perfection. The perfection is exactly what worries me, it’s just too perfect so it has lulled us into a state of NBD (no big deal) we can rip into everything and pop out some fresh trail surface for opening day. While this may seem like the best thing ever, it does pose a few potential problems;
When digging into perfect dirt during spring runoff you stumble upon ground springs that pop up and saturate your work leaving machines door deep in mud until you can culvert and divert the water off the trail If we get significant rainfall before May 2nd we may be forced to close some trails that become saturated
When a trail is resurfaced but has not been ridden and compacted sufficiently, it is extremely susceptible to absorbing moisture which can very quickly become axle deep mud
When people decide they want a sneak peak at the work being done, they climb / push up and ride the fresh, soft trail leaving 5cm deep ruts in the new trail surface
Fresh trail can shed water evenly and will dry out in time, tire ruts channel water and create erosion issues that require the teams to go over the same ground again to fix the ruts, slowing progress considerably
As I write this update, we are 10 days out from opening. The fate of what trails we will be able to offer lies in the fickle hands of mother nature and to some extend the crew that keeps riding down our soft trails leaving behind their signature ruts and dog footprints. While I can’t influence the weather I am hoping this plea to the eager beavers will reach its intended target and they will give us a break and go ride elsewhere in the valley until the trails are open for everyone to enjoy. Stay tuned for more as we count down to May 2nd. -BF"
Source: Whistler Mountain Bike Park