#ECRT 2017: Mountain Creek
28 Jul 2017
Mountain Creek Bike Park MCBP 2017
Memories came flooding back when we sat down to plan our 2nd East Coast Road Trip, across North America. Back in 2014, we made our first trip ever to the lush green township of Vernon New Jersey, to ride at Mountain Creek Bike Park. The bike park formally known as Diablo, is a sought after and coveted riding location by locals and well traveled mountain bikers alike. 2014 was a unique experience for the WorldBikeParks team. We made close connections with trail crew and gained a whole new level of appreciation and understanding for the guys behind the scenes with shovels and pick-axes. Their hard work creating trails brings bike park dreams to life. Our hopes for a repeat phenomenal experience was set pretty high, but we did have some hesitations considering, Mountain Creek Resort’s recent bankruptcy news in the headlines.
We pulled into the Mountain Creek parking lot after a very windy and slow drive. Clouds in the sky were an ominous dark-gray. Lightening struck in the upper atmosphere. We snickered between the two of us, because we knew that in a moment the chairlift would stop running for 30 min—a common practice of safety, at bike parks across the nation. We imagined the sighs coming from all the park riders as a fierce rain was looming just minutes away. We needed to a make a decision about what we wanted to do. Our choices were; stay in the camper while the rain came plunking down or make a run for the Biergarten. One of our fondest memories from our first trip to Mountain Creek involved hanging out at the Biergarten. It’s an outdoor beer-garden with awesome BBQ on the patio of the lodge. It’s close to the base of the chairlift, so it’s a great hangout for all the park riders. We figured, before the deluge of rain hit, we should head on over to the patio and see who all we might find hanging out. We were on the lookout for Jeff Anderson, one of MCBP’s trail builders and very skilled mountain bike coaches. He was instrumental to our awesome experience back in 2014, and we could not wait to be around his positive energy again.
The Biergarten was full of park riders taking a break and waiting, hoping the storm would pass. Everyone was all-smiles, even after the wind picked up and the bartender Mark, delivered the last call news. There was no stopping this tribe of Baggies...when the clouds decided to let loose and a flood of rain wrung from the sky, everyone at the bar moved inside the building so they could continue the post ride libations. People who didn’t know each other before that day were now all in a conversation about the bike park, the trails, and the future of MCBP. Mostly the conversation was about the condition of the trails. This year, the North East has been experiencing more rain than normal. Mountain Creek has cut back on the number of people who are on their trail-crew, and, from the sounds of things, the trails have been suffering, without an adequate number of people working to repair damage after big rain events. We were disheartened to hear this.
That night when we were snuggled back into our truck camper, and the rain had settled to a light sprinkle, a PIVOT Cycles van pulled into the parking lot. Out popped a longhaired dude with a beard and mustache, and an equally hairy dog came lunging out after him. We couldn’t resist the urge to meet our new gravel lot neighbor and his furry buddy sidekick. Brendon Voelker (a.k.a., “DEMO Jesus”), and his dog Geronimo (a.k.a., “G”) are traveling the East Coast running PIVOT demo events this summer. We were excited to share parking lot stories and beer with a fellow traveler. We showcased our bikes to him, even though he sees Firebirds and Switchblades all day long, he seemed genuinely interested and admired there beauty along with us.
The next morning, the parking lot had filled up with mountain bikers, and droves of people running around in bathing suits getting ready for a day at the water park. We chatted with some local riders and then geared up to take some laps at the bike park. We hit the white record-button on the BikeParkPRO app and rode up the lift. From the open-gondola, we could see some serious rain-ruts had formed on the trails below. No big surprise considering the amount of rain overnight. Our plan was to warm-up on an easy trail called, Green Hornet, and then check out a new section on the upper part of a blue trail called, Deviant. We made multiple laps that day and noticed something about the mountain. It seemed that as we rode the bike park trails, they slowly disintegrated as we made our way down the mountain. Mountain Creek only has one top to bottom green trail. The trail starts out green, but, as you work your way down the mountain, there are sections that are very dark blue. We only wish that we were talking about awesome trail progression. But, a green trail should never be dark blue…teetering on black. It should also be noted, there’s a difference between a green trail with blue/black options and a green trail that is falling apart and is no longer a green trail. The green trail is where the new riders can be found. The green trail is where it all should begin for a new rider, not end. The honest question is, how can a crew of only three trail builders keep up with 49 trails? We’ve done the math, and it’s not possible! When we visited back in 2014, there was a team of 10 on trail crew and all the trails were dialed.
(Natty and Trey with last years BikeParkPRO season pass winner Stephen Pietrucha)
Please don’t get us wrong, we still had a great time. But, we wouldn’t be doing our due-diligence if we didn’t give our readers an honest perspective. We mentioned earlier that they added a new short section of trail at the start of Deviant, a blue flow trail, and it was in great shape, awesome really. In late May of this year, MCBP played host to the US Open Of Mountain Biking, where our recent podcast interviewee, Neko Mulally, had won the course! We had the opportunity to ride sections of this downhill racetrack, and we can only imagine the excitement as top-level mountain bike athletes ripped their way down the gnarly trail. After we left, we heard that Indy, a blue flow trail, also received a much-needed makeover. Flow type trails such as this typically require more maintenance hours on a regular basis, and that’s what is expected from bikepark riders paying for a lift pass.
(Natty and Trey with their friend whom they never get to see except at MCBP, Ian Loew. @ZOIC Clothing)
In the following weeks since we left MCBP, we have run in to Mountain Creek locals at other bike parks. They are venturing away from the “Creek”, because they’re not happy with trail conditions and are looking for something better. We are Mountain Creek Bike Park fanatics, but we’re heartsick over the changes that are happening. We hope they bounce back and become leaders again, amongst the bikeparks of the East. The future will unfold, and we hope to make another visit sometime in the next couple of years. I guess for now, all we can do is wait, watch, and see.
(If you're not already following our travels across North America check out - From The Mouth Of Maurice)
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