A Whiteface Welcome from Downhill Mike
24 Sep 2014
After the fun and games of the World Cup and culture shock of Quebec (in a good way), it was back over the border and in to the US again. We headed south to Whiteface Mountain in New York State, for bike park number 10 on our EastCoastRoadTrip. We’ve now made it to double figures with our bike park reviews! About an hour west of the north-south running Interstate 87, the closest town is Wilmington, NY (POP: < 2,000). But, the real action takes place about 20 minutes further down the road in the crowded tourist town of Lake Placid. That was where we were staying, hosted by the legend that is Downhill Mike!
(From MSA to Whiteface)
Downhill Mike (Mike Scheur, just in case you were curious) is one-half of the Whiteface Bike Park management team, who along with Elias Ingraham, partners with the resort to run the bike park. So this is not a typical bike-park-resort setup, because Mike and Elias run things as a third party operator. Originally from Buffalo NY, Downhill Mike came to Whiteface for the snowboarding and ended up staying a little longer than planned! With World Cup events in Mont Sainte Anne and Windham, separated by only a week, Mike offered up Whiteface Bike Park as a half-way-stop for some training to any WC racers that fancied stopping off there on the way to the next race. More than that, he opened up his cabin in the woods to host the inaugural Whiteface World Cup Party!
(Photo credit: Aaron Ingrao / The WBP rig, honk if you ever see us!)
So, we rocked up at Mike’s place in the early evening to find a huge supply of beer stashed in ice, on the porch of an awesome little cabin on the edge of a beautiful mountain stream! Word had gotten around to a fair few of the World Cup racers, with beer on offer you would expect the Aussies and New Zealanders to be well represented. The guys from the Green to Gold Racing Development team led the way.
There was also the crew from the Bergamont/Hayes race team, with Casey Brown fresh off of a great 10th place finish in elite women at Mont Sainte Anne. A big shout out to Dmitri and his dad George, who had driven all the way from Utah for a stab at the World Cup in the junior’s category. A whole load of pizza was ordered and we saw out the night swapping bike stories and got stoked for riding the next day, as Whiteface was new to pretty much everyone there.
(Mike's amazing home)
There can’t be many people that would open up their home to a load of unknown mountain bikers, bonding over a common love of the dirt, but it says a lot of good things about Mike and the mountain bike culture on the east coast. Whiteface started 12 years ago, initially only running on the weekends. Mike was so committed to the cause that he had to quit his paying job to continue running and expanding the bike park. Things were previously run by the local bike shop in Lake Placid, High Peak Cyclery, owned by Brian Delany, and one of the primary hubs of mountain biking in the region for nearly 30 years. Mike and then eventually Elias were brought onboard to run the DH side of things. Their expertise and direction has shaped the mountain to what it is now. Meanwhile, Brian at High Peak Cyclery continues to operate the Cross Country Center at Mount Van Hoevenberg, the nearby ORDA (Olympic Regional Development Authority), originally created by New York State to manage the facilities used during the 1980 Olympic Winter Games at Lake Placid. Based on the old XC ski trails and developed further with additional single track, the Olympic Sports Complex now has more than 30 km of trails that climb, dip and twist through the Adirondack hardwoods and tall pines.
(Photo credit: Aaron Ingrao and The Aussies chilling out after the race at MSA)
Having established himself as an essential cog in the Whiteface mountain bike machine, Mike needed something to do in the winter. Whilst travelling around the west coast, Mike had met Jeff Frampton, owner of All Mountain Cyclery in Boulder, Nevada, and the man responsible for hosting bike races in Bootleg Canyon, not far outside of Las Vegas. So, Mike worked for Jeff for about a year, guiding and shuttling for the Mob n’ Mojave events. He became so involved that he eventually took over the race organization for Bootleg. He now flips between Bootleg and Whiteface when the seasons change, spending the summer in Whiteface and the winter in the warmth of the Nevada desert, not half bad!
(Photo credit: Aaron Ingrao and DUUUUUUDE!)
Dude (WorldBikeParks mascot) got a great workout at Mike’s cabin, forming a Beau and Luke (Duke’s of Hazard) style relationship with Trance, Mike’s huge two and half year old yellow Labrador. Tearing up the woods around the cabin was not enough for these two, at one point, we were suddenly very aware of their absence. On confirming that they had indeed legged it, we set out in different directions on foot and in the jeep to hunt them down. Just as we were driving past the Fire Station about a mile down the road, Dude trotted out from underneath one of the fire trucks with 2 firemen in hot pursuit! Trance, had already been apprehended and was safely locked up in the main office, so we drove both furry troublemakers back to base.
(At the top)
We got the chance to hang out with local (ish) pro-photographer Aaron Ingrao. A contact of Mikes, he happened to be shooting in the area. He took the opportunity to drop in and get some cracking shots of whatever happened at the Whiteface World Cup party and the riding that followed. Keep an eye out for some of his images here; he gave us some seriously good stuff and the same can definitely be said about the riding…
(Photo credit: Aaron Ingrao / Rider: Mike being awesome)