An Awsome Finale to the ECRT at Snowshoe
23 Oct 2014
Snowshoe resort is a big place. In fact it’s an Intrawest Resort, so the town has everything you would expect from a large winter sports destination. The village center is very Whistler-esque, all be it on a much smaller level! But it has a very cool vibe and is a great to place to hang out with a beer at one of the many terraces around lunch or after your ride. But, because of the existing infrastructure – all shiny and new – there’s a real air of potential here, the feeling that something big could be in the making.
(The crew ready to ride)
From a riding perspective, the existing trails are excellent and the scope for more is huge. Josh has a regular team of 4 in the trail crew, but he can call on more for large-scale projects and busier times. Dreamweaver was built new for 2014, and at the time of our visit they were putting the finishing touches to the end of Skyline – re-routing a fresh new machine built section of flow trail right to the base, rather than the current situation where it joins up with the tail end of a more technical trail. There’s no pump track here, and although there is a small skills area, it really needs some work. But, these sorts of things can happen quickly with the right support and are much easier to develop than full trails on significantly vertical terrain. There are miles of backcountry XC trails leading out from the resort as well – a separate trail map is available from the Mountain Adventure Center at the top of the Ballhooter chairlift. So, riding groups of mixed interest and mixed ability are very well catered for.
(Air with Josh)
(While filming...DO IT AGAIN!)
(The new split from Skyline and ProDH...we laid first tracks)
And whilst we’re on the subject of trails, there’s much more in the local area. We dropped in at the annual fundraiser for Pocahontas Trails on the Saturday evening, a local riding group and member of the West Virginia Mountain Bike Association (WVMBA). They work with the community and other organizations to maintain, design, and build trails in Pocahontas County. With all-day endure racing, a BBQ, and live music from the local Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys (proper W.V.!), their Fat Tire Festival went down at one of the popular trail heads near Snowshoe – the Elk River Touring Center. Located in the heart of the Monongahela National Forest, there’s a swanky little hotel and restaurant that’s the perfect place to explore the wild WV backcountry on your trail bike.
(The Black Mountain Bluegrass Boys warm up.)
(Dirty mountain bikers.)
(The Elk River Touring Center.)
Meanwhile back at Snowshoe… the Mountain Adventure Center (bike shop) is where you can pick up any kit you happen to need, plus of course a rental bike. They are very well stocked with Dakine, Troy Lee, Fox, 5-10, Spy, Smith, Oakley and GoPro’s plus accessories, so you need not worry at the isolation of the resort as they will likely have any emergency kit you need and the full service workshop can take care of any technical issues you run in to. Rental bikes are Specialized Demo 8’s for downhill, and Status 1’s for ‘Freeride’, which rent for $179 and $137 respectively including lift ticket and all the gear. Helmets and body armor are provided by Fox. For the XC folks there are Kona Tanuki bikes for $40 per day including helmet. And they even have Specialized Fat Bikes at $50 per day – there are XC trails only as you can’t get them on the bike trays on the chairlift! You can buy lift tickets here – a day pass will set you back is $42.40 - random number as it includes tax. And, you can also buy your tickets for the activities at the bottom of the chairlift, but more on that in a bit. The Mountain Adventure Center is open from 9am to 9pm on Fridays and Saturdays, which is pretty cool, and 9 to 6 on all the other days of the week. Shout out to Mikey, Rob, Grant, Joe, Morgan, Mark and Colin who keep things ticking over there.
(The workstation at the bike shop)
(The bike shop)
If you need a break from the bike or have a young family in tow then there are plenty of other cool outdoors activities to keep you busy. At the base of the Basin Area (go down the Ballhooter lift!) you’ll find the boating lake with small sandy beach where you can rent pedal boats, canoes, and even go swimming. And of course there are plenty of hiking paths. To keep your energy up, The Boathouse Restaurant serves good food and even better beer, and is a good option for lunch with a nice view of the lake. It was often clear down here when the top of the mountain was lost in the clouds!
(Views from the Boathouse restaurant.)
Of course the village itself has stacks going on as well. There’s summertime fun for the kids on the Eurobungy and Climbing Wall. And remember to look ‘up’ - the Hare Racer Zipline runs right through the heart of the village - side-by-side racing at 30ft in the air! There’s a stack of bars and restaurants. The main rider bar for food and drink seems to be the Old Spruce Café and Tavern with a massive selection of beers and some really great food at a slightly better price than the other options. But those other options are good restaurants too and sometimes you just really need a double rack of ribs with 4 different kinds of BBQ sauce made in-house... (that’ll be the Foxfire Grille!). And there are also a good number of those classy outdoor shops with posh puffer jackets in the windows – you know the sort we mean!
(Full of food ready for a nap.)
There are an awesome series of events that take place at Snowshoe throughout the season – worth making the trip for any one of them. On top of their own dedicated Gravity Race Series, they host a round of USA Cycling’s Pro GRT, and stage the WVMTB XC Championships, a Kona Women’s Weekend, a Mad March Training camp with Shaums March (a la Mountain Creek), and of course the Chomolungma Challenge, one coolest Bike Park Endurance Events out there! “Chomolungma” is the traditional Tibetan name for Mount Everest, which stands at 29,035 ft above sea level and is considered to be one of the ultimate physical challenges on Earth. So for the Chomolungma Challenge, you descend the equivalent vertical elevation on the Western Territory where 1,500 vertical feet per lap of fun and challenging terrain await. So that’s 20 laps if you can’t do the math! But if you’d like to mix in your riding with a little off the bike fun time, time your visit for either the annual Fire On the Mountain Chili Cook Off, or the annual Blues, Brews, and BBQ festival, and combine your bike park weekend with live music, awesome food, and plenty of beer!
(Just a random noteworthy "bike barn")