photo courtesy RedbullRampage.com
Downhill skiers and snowboarders have been using helicopters to access backcountry terrain for years but they arent the only ones. Helibiking combines the reach of a helicopter with the rush of downhill mountain biking in places like British Columbia and New Zealand. We recently got the lowdown from Vernon Reid of Helibike.com LTD, a mountain bike guide service provider in New Zealand.
For many Helibike.com LTD clients, the trip is as much about the incredible scenery as it is the rush of the descent. Remember, youre riding in a helicopter through some of the most beautiful mountain scenery in New Zealand, which in and of itself, is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The routes Helibike.com LTD services are actually located on private land and arent accessible via lifts or shuttle vehicles. Heck, even if you wanted to ride up you wouldnt be allowed!
Vernon points out that helibiking has a lower environmental impact than say four-wheel drive shuttle vehicles or even permanent lift stations. All you need is a clear place to touch down with the bikes and youre off.
Surprisingly, Vernon estimates that 90% of his clients have never been DH mountain biking before their first helibiking experience. As such, most clients opt to use the GT Sanction 2 mountain bikes on hand for a smooth descent.
Unlike heli-skiing where the aim is to access untouched backcountry areas, most (if not all) helibike tour operators shuttle to well-established trail systems. Initially I imagined extreme DH or freeriders with access to a helicopter looking at a peak on a map and deciding to find a way down but thats not really practical (or enjoyable either). Nope, it may be possible to make first tracks in snow but on a bike its not advisable.
At the end of the day, using a helicopter as a DH shuttle is a fun and scenic way to get to the top of the mountain. In many cases, helibiking can take you to places that are virtually inaccessible via conventional means (other than riding uphill of course)!
Thanks to Vernon Reid and Helibike.com for providing information used in this article.