Joyride - The Joy of Trail Design
7 Apr 2013
By David Scorer
Next up in the Trail Builders Feature Series is Joyride Bike Parks and head honcho Paddy Kaye. Joyride has been building mountain bike trails and innovating bike park design for decades, from the first bike park trail at Whistler's Bike Park to the Red Bull Joyride at Crankworx 2013. Paddy has one of the best resumes in the world of mountain bike trail building, and with the resources and business focus of the rest of the team - Mark Daugherty, Ethan Meginnes and Alexandra Loeb - Joyride is going from strength to strength. Here's what Paddy had to say...
WBP: What projects does Joyride have on deck for this year?
PK: We have 6 projects confirmed and a few more in the development phase: The biggest one is the Whistler slope style course. We’ve also got a project on the go at Retallack, which is a private backcountry bike park. We’re also doing some work on the Sea to Sky trail, which links communities up the coast [of BC], a machine-built trail in Nelson BC, with the Nelson Cycling Club, and a community skills park in Revelstoke.
WBP: How does one go about designing and building something like the Boneyard?
PK: The design is a constant evolution, the main factor is funding from Red Bull that opens up the building options. The other major factor is feedback from the athletes to discuss what works and what doesn't. Red Bull is a big part of the communication process; we previously sat down at Rampage with the top 6 or 7 athletes in the sport and picked their brains about what they’d like to see. Once that is done, we go and do a design with an artist on paper, then have a conference call with everyone. We go top to bottom on the course, identifying problems and coming up with solutions. Once that’s done, we go to phase two of the design, with another call to update everyone. We want to involve the guys that are riding it because they are at the most progressive edge of the sport, and it helps create a good vibe; it creates ownership of the contest, and we think that it’s a good thing. The building portion comes down to experience and hard work, as well as constant input through construction from the athletes who ride the course.
WBP: What are some of the considerations that you take into account when designing trails and courses?
PK: The number one consideration is flow, everything must flow whether it's a jump line in a bike park or an intermediate trail in the woods. A big part of flow is instinct and talent. Identifying it is something that you have to develop and work on, looking at how things link together; from a turn in the woods to a jump at a contest, it’s all about the experience. Some other major considerations include; identifying the user group, water management, materials available, budget, how any new trail additions fit with the existing trail network, and long term maintenance.
Building the Boneyard bigger and better for Crankworx 2012.
WBP: How has the nature of slopestyle competitions and courses changed over the past decade?
PK: The courses for competitions are now well thought out for safe and fair contests, bigger stunts, as well as a variety of features to showcase many different rider skills. There's also more attention to the fun aspect and to make sure the athletes can pull out all the tricks and put on a great show.
WBP: What do you think has fuelled the growth in park-based riding?
PK: A bunch of things fuel the growth of park-based riding, it's fun, there's a usually a wide variety of trails, in general the trails are progressive, bikes and bike gear have evolved to create a new category within the sport, you can get a ton of vertical in a day, there's first aid support if something goes wrong, you can talk about the epic moments on the lift with friends, it employs resort staff year round, boosts restaurant and hotel business, more and more bike riders are doing it and traveling for the experiences...
Clearing a path for the Rossland Community Trail.
WBP: How did you personally get into the industry?
PK: I guess it came through the passion of riding a bike and seeing the opportunity to develop new things. I'd been building and maintaining trails for many years and in 1998 I had the chance to make money doing it.
WBP: Do you see influence from other sports seeping into mountain biking?
PK: I think skiing and snowboarding have a huge influence, especially the lift access park riding. Also BMX, motocross, even road biking. Thats the beauty of mountain biking, there's a hundred different ways to do it and influences come from what ever else your into.
WBP: What is your favourite bicycling-related memory?
PK: Thinking back most of my favourite memories are of the friends I've ridden with, and the places I've been. There are lots.
WBP: Which direction would you like to see mountain biking move towards in the future?
PK: The kids these days are ripping so I see a constant upward curve in the talent pool. The bikes and gear will evolve to keep up. More communities with legitimate trails and parks, more resorts offering lift access mountain biking, maybe even a chair lift installed specifically for mountain bike use somewhere someday. I'd like to see a lot more people riding mountain bikes.
WBP: Any other comments/shout-outs?
PK: Props to Whistler for taking the leap of faith and building bike trails on their land before bike parks existed, and to all the trail builders I've worked with over the years, most are still shaping trail. And a big shout out to the Joyride crew who work their butts off while keeping it fun. Thank you!
The Retallack Project
As a footnote - Joyride Bike Parks are also building a private bike park for guided tours, modeled after the winter heli and cat skiing business. Check out www.retallack.com for more information and keep an eye out for this location and some seriously good freeriding popping up in MTB magazines and videos in the very near future.
Digging deep at Retallack Lodge.
Interview by Matthew Lee
All photos courtesy of Joyride Bike Parks.