Ridership up 60 per cent again this season
In its fourth year of operation, rider numbers for the Whistler Mountain Bike Park are showing no signs of levelling off.
This season, the Bike Park logged more than 46,000 rider visits, an increase of almost 61 per cent compared to the approximately 28,000 rider visits in 2001. Visits to the park increased 60 per cent from 1999 to 2000, and 55 per cent from 2000 to 2001.
"Its been fantastic," said Jason Roe, the mountain bike park manager.
Roe credits most of the growth to the word of mouth, and the parks reputation in the Lower Mainland and as far away as Seattle.
"I think its just the fact that the word got out on the experience, and how big of a rush it is, and how easy it is. It appeals to the people who have the big bikes," he added.
Events have also had an effect on park ridership. For example, "we have had tons of success with the Joyride (bikercross) event, that relationship has done a lot for us. The Joyride, with the Air Downhill, got the big-name riders here and those people bring with them a lot of exposure in the international market."
Bike magazines have also started to take notice, and the editors have commented that the park is one of the biggest things to happen to mountain biking.
Riders like Steve Peat of Great Britain, one of the top downhillers in the world, have also given favourable reviews to the park on their Web sites, which are accessed by a world-wide audience.
When asked how the Whistler park stacks up against others, Roe doesnt flinch when he says that Whistlers reputation internationally is "that we have the best park in the world."
The mountain is committed to keeping it that way.
"If were going from 28,000 to 46,000, its safe to say that theres still a lot of opportunity out there," said Roe.
Making the most out of the opportunity made for a busy summer for construction and maintenance crews. The number of maintenance workers was increased, and the park acquired a second machine so that one could work full-time on maintenance while the other was used to build new trails.
"We definitely had to expand the trails this year to deal with the growth," Roe said.
"And if we hadnt done those lift upgrades at the start of the season, we definitely wouldnt have seen that growth, theres just no way we could have done it."