When coronavirus started to spread around the world, North American ski resorts that were heading into the busy spring break season were some of the first businesses ordered to shut down by local governments.
Something about the idea of people traveling from all over the world to visit one destination and pile into gondolas and lifts with strangers seemed like a perfect recipe for the disease to spread. Very few were able to reopen for skiers and snowboarders before the snow melted.
For mountain bikers though, many of us wondered if things would settle down enough for the lifts at bike parks to reopen by the summer. As many places around the world have started “reopening,” albeit with some challenges, a lot of bike park lifts are indeed spinning again. For gravity riders eager to crush some park laps, there is hope at last, but expect a very different experience.
The infamous Whistler Bike Park cranked up their lifts again on June 29, about a month and a half after they usually open. Unfortunately for neighboring Americans and other travelers, the Canadian border is closed. The country is only opening travel for essential reasons and sadly, ripping A-Line laps isn’t a necessity.
Canadians traveling to the park should know that the resort isn’t accepting cash and they’ll only be able to load gondolas and lifts with riders that they traveled with or met there. Visitors are also encouraged to purchase tickets online before they arrive to reduce lines.
Trestle Bike Park at the Winter Park Resort in Colorado has made online tickets mandatory and they’re also limiting how many people can purchase tickets to ride the bike park. Although season pass holders can ride whenever, the tickets for day visitors are limited to help manage social distancing.
Jen Miller, a spokeswoman for the resort which opened on June 27, about two weeks after they normally open, filled us in on how they’re managing social distancing around the resort.
“We have markings in the lift corral at the Gondola to help people in line maintain six feet of distance. We’re also only loading parties who are together in the gondola and on chairlifts. The nature of loading bikes in the gondola and on chairlifts, limits capacity anyways. The Gondola has a normal capacity of ten. With bikes, we can only get three people in a cabin, so we’re already well below capacity guidelines as outlined by Colorado and our county, Grand County.”
On the gondolas, the windows are being left open for better circulation and Winter Park is using a disinfecting fog on them once daily and they are also sanitizing the lift chairs at the end of the day. This of course isn’t full-proof, so it’s a good idea for riders to keep sanitizer on them.
Like Whistler, other bike parks, and most public places during this time, Trestle is asking that visitors wear a mask around the resort when they are not on the trails, and no, a full-face helmet doesn’t count as a mask.
How do visitors know that the staff is being safe? Winter Park says that they are screening employees daily with temperature checks and a health questionnaire. Plexiglass barriers have also been placed at transaction centers and frequent touch points are being sanitized often.
Mammoth Mountain in California has also reopened their park, and the procedures are similar to the other bike parks that have opened. Mammoth has their operating procedures and what they expect from visitors listed here.
It will be a different summer at the bike parks, and visitors will have their own responsibilities to be mindful of if they want to get some lift-served laps in. While a lot of bike parks have reopened, not all of them have. The folks at MTB Parks Pass have a great running list of which parks are open here.
Made it out to Winter Park / Trestle today for my first day of the season. Quite a few people enjoying some DH action on this Friday. They handled the operations well. It was easy to get my day pass at will call.