Ushering in the Next Generation of Mountain Bikers
Before you learn how to launch rock drops, you have to know have to rail a turn. Mammoth Mountain has a reputation for some of the best big hit mountain bike terrain around. Although they’re still adding to freeride options, the Park Crew has spent plenty of time on beginner and intermediate terrain this summer.
“We pride ourselves as a bike park that offers something for everyone,” said Mark Hendrickson, Mammoth Mountain Bike Park Supervisor. “We have everything from beginner trails to the extreme downhills. We have an intermediate family-type trail that goes from the top of the mountain all the way down — a lot of mountains can’t say that.”
To see Hendrickson’s great vision for the future of the sport, look no further than Downtown, Big Ring and Juniper. These three entry-level trails are designed for anyone with basic bike skills. These trails have experienced the brunt of improvements so far this season including 14-tons of paver bricks added to Juniper, 10-tons of paver bricks added to Downtown and an overall facelift of Downtown to make it as welcoming as possible to new riders.
One challenge that many bike parks have faced is erosion on high-traffic areas such as berms. Mark Hendrickson and his team have found an interesting way to combat this by adding paver bricks to sections of trail that receive a high level of abuse. Paver bricks are 1-foot by 2-foot bricks with a lattice pattern that provide a mixed sensation of riding on dirt and asphalt. What does this mean for the average biker at Mammoth? Fast, smooth turns that hold their shape and help bring your riding to the next level.
“We’re trying to cultivate the sport,” said Hendrickson. “We want to take that first-time mountain biker and introduce them to the world of mountain biking in a way that doesn’t scare them. A lot of beginner mountain bikers haven’t pedaled a bike in years and the last time they rode a bike was on an asphalt-paved bike trail. We want to give them a place to take their bike skills and bridge the gap between paved and dirt.”
Hendrickson and his trail crew have been hard at work this season digging the trails out, often by hand, from the record-breaking 55 feet of snowfall that fell on Mammoth Mountain last winter. Snowfall like that equates to more work than many think.
“We’d be walking a trail through the woods and come across eight- to ten-foot snow drifts. We have yet to come across a wooden feature that has made it through last winter unscathed,” Says Hendrickson.
In fact, snowcats had to cut through snowbanks as high as 20 feet just to get Kamikaze and Off the Top open.
Even though the majority of work so far this season has been put toward the mellower trails on the mountain, downhillers and dirt jumpers have no need to fret; phases two and three of bike park construction for this summer are right up their alley, err trail. Phase two, which is already underway, will be focused on jumps, jumps and more jumps.
New jump runs planned for this summer include: Recoil, which will replace Trail Home and aspires to be Mammoth’s new signature jump trail; Jill’s Run, a new trail feeding off of Twilight Zone; a complete facelift and reroute of Pipeline; the completion of Upper Twilight Zone; a new Kamikaze Park feeding off lower Kamikaze new Chair 11; and Disco Ball, a jump run under Chair 11.
Phase three will focus on building out a mix of jump park trails near Main Lodge. Once all is said and done, the trail crew is expecting to have about 15 miles of new or completely remodeled trails in place by the end of summer.
Mother nature threw her best at Mammoth Mountain last winter but that hasn’t stopped the Park Crew from getting the summer rolling in the high Sierra.
Source: Daniel Hansen, Mammoth Mountain Ski Area, LLC