When Blue Mountain announced this week that it was ceasing Bike Park operations, it came as a surprise to many Ontario riders. Ridership is booming and Canadians are vacationing closer to home this year. It seems more like a time to try expand than shut down completely.
We reached out to Blue Mountain to try find out how the Collingwood, Ont. resort made the decision to step back from lift-accessed riding this year.
Tara Lovell, Blue Mountain Resorts LP’s Manager of Public Relations, responded to our questions. From her answers, it sounds like shutting down the chairlifts to bikes is a decision that has been in the works for a while now. And, most importantly, this decision is not the end of mountain bikes at Blue. The trail network will remain, in some format. Just with a different look.
Canadian MTB: First – is the Bike Park closing for 2021? Or is this a more long-term decision?
Tara Lovell: Lift access biking has been discontinued at Blue but we are working on an update to our on-mountain biking and multi-use trail network. More information will be shared in the coming months.
Most other Bike Parks found a way to open around COVID health restrictions in 2020, but Blue stayed closed. How much of this decision has to do with health and safety concerns? What other reasons led to the decision to close?
We have been reviewing our strategic plan for the Resort for a few years. The pandemic has hastened some of our operational updates but the decision was not made solely in response to COVID. We have analyzed our lift access downhill mountain bike operation and have elected to move forward with our vision for a multi-use trail network that supports hiking and pedal access biking.
Recent years saw some big events – Sea Otter Canada, Canadian Enduro Series – and, I believe, increased ridership. There’s also a big boom in mountain biking right now. Why close now?
As mentioned above, there are a number of factors that have lead to this update at this time. It is important to note that this is not a complete departure from biking at Blue. Our teams have a vision for a trail system that embracing cross-country and enduro style riding.
Wednesday’s announcement mentioned there’s news coming regarding the cross country network. Can mountain bikers expect some access to trails this year? Could that include pedal-access to the bike park trails? Or will they be completely closed to riders?
Yes; as above. The timing of this will be well into the summer as we have a lot of work to do to get us there. We will announce updates to our trails once we have accomplished more of the groundwork.
In 2019 a rider, unfortunately, died while riding at Blue. Is this decision related – directly or indirectly – to that incident?
The level of risk involved with downhill mountain biking has been a point of consideration; however, this decision is not based on specific on-mountain incidents.