Northstar’s mountain bike team gears up for summer season, Tahoe Trail 100
A heavy spring downpour is coming down on the slopes of Northstar California Resort.
While a welcome site in the water-starved Sierra Nevada, the rain rushing over jumps and berms means it’s time to go to work for the team that runs the resort’s bike park.
Each spring the bike park crew at Northstar rebuilds much of the 43 trails at the resort, and any subsequent rain storms usually equal a shovel and rake in hand to fix or replace more features.
“We have to rebuild after every winter,” said Bike Park Manager and Patrol Director Kurt Gale on some of the challenges running the park. “The maintenance upkeep on a park all depends on the weather, whether it’s extra wet and we’ve got water flowing everywhere, or it’s super dry and we’re trying to get water on the trails to keep it from not getting too loose and dusty.”
Work for the team changes from week to week, said Gale, who is in his second summer managing the park, and involves anything from fixing a single feature because a jump didn’t seal right to changing major sections of trails.
“That’s one of the things that keeps me here is the ever-changing environment,” said Gale. “As soon as something starts to get kind of mundane or I feel like I’m in a rut, something changes.”
From several different competitions that the park hosts to teaching beginners, the constantly changing climate at the resort’s bike park offers a refreshing change of course, said Gale, who also works winter operations.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the popularity of the bike park and in the cycling industry, in general, has skyrocketed, according to Assistant Bike Park Manager Kolina Coe, adding that she’s seen a noticeable uptick in interest during the past year.
“After COVID, you can see it in the bike industry across the world with the amount of bike parks that are sold out,” said Coe. “Even buying bikes is really hard right now because everyone has turned to the outdoors as their place for release. There’s definitely an excitement around it.”
Going into the summer, Northstar’s bike park crew has added to its offerings, building new features to a number of trails, according to Gale, including woodwork on its popular black diamond Gypsy.
“It’s a pretty fun trail,” Gale said. “It’s a single black diamond trail, but it has a lot of features: jumps, rock gardens, elevated wood features, wood berms, things like that.”
In total, Northstar’s bike park features seven black diamond runs, seven double black diamond runs, along with a beginner and intermediate terrain and uphill courses.
The crew at Northstar will next ready its terrain to host Tahoe Trail 100 on Saturday. The 100-kilometer mountain bike race will start and end at Northstar and is a qualifier for the Leadville Trail 100. Northstar’s bike park will also host a cross-country race on Thursday, and a downhill race on July 25.
This season the bike park will be open Thursdays through Sundays, and will make use of three lifts. Northstar also offers an array of bikes for rent for beginners up to experts and also offers e-bike rentals.
“Come check out the park,” said Gale. “We’re open and we’re ready for people to come check it out.”
Justin Scacco is a reporter for the Sierra Sun. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-550-2643
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