Spirit Mountain Stepping It Up
7 Apr 2014
(Photo Credits to Ben Plattes. Full photo later in the article)
Q&A: Spirit Mountain Bike Park!
Who are you and what do you do at Spirit Mountain Bike Park?
I'm Glen Olson. I am the Mountain Bike and Lift Operation Manager at Spirit Mountain. I am the head trail builder, bike park operations and Bike Patrol guy. Also, for the right trade (usually beer) I may even be your bike mechanic. Pretty much if it has something to do with biking here at Spirit, I know about it.
How long ago did Spirit Mountain become a Bike Park? Who or what was the driving force?
Spirit Mountain opened our bike park in June of 2013, with two trails. Smorgasbord was built buy our staff and a small but dedicated crew of volunteers. Candyland was built by IMBA's Trail Solutions and was the site of IMBA's first advanced trail building school. Candyland was a collaboration between COGGS (the local club), IMBA, and Spirit Mountain. These partnerships, and the tremendous support we've received from the city of Duluth have been the largest driving forces behind the bike park's success. All of these factors allowed us to have Flowline Trail Design come in and build Happy Camper last summer. With our staff and crew of dedicated volunteers, we were also able to open Blaster, bringing the total trail count to 4 by the end of the 2013 season. If all goes according to plan, we will hopefully be able to add a few more trails to the map this season.
How many visitors did you get in a weekend/season? What was your biggest day on record?
We had over 2,300 individual visits last summer. On a typical weekend (Thurs.- Sunday) we saw an average of 150 to 200 riders.
What was the most popular trail at your bike park last season?
Smorgasbord seemed to be the biggest hit with most of the experienced riders, and Happy Camper was tops for the beginners. Both trails are super fun. It’s really a toss up as to which one was the biggest hit. All of the trails here are very high quality and offer something different for each rider. Everyone I talk to loves something different about each trail.
Will there be any new trails added this year or will you be re-developing an existing trail?
As far as new trails go, we will be finishing our experts only trail called Calculated Risk, which was started last fall and is being built by Trail Solutions. This trail will be the home of our biggest and most gnarly terrain yet. We hope to have this trail completed and open for riding early in the season. We will begin work on the trail as soon as the record spring snow melts off. We plan on adding more trails this summer. Check back with us, as we will soon have a plan worked out.
Describe the predominant “style” of riding at your park? (Natural vs. Manmade, DH/Tech/Steep vs. Flow/Features) Typically, what kind of terrain do you have? (Rocky, Dry-dusty, Tacky, Roots)…
Spirit Mountain's trails are predominantly machine built modern bike park trails with lots of flow to be found. Our soil is mostly clay or bedrock making for fun flow trails and great rock features. Trails start out tacky in the spring, turn into fast hard packed ribbons of clay during the summer, and then back to tacky in the fall as it cools down.
What is the mountain bike scene/culture like at your resort?
Spirit's scene is so new it’s hard to describe. I have pretty much seen it all out here. Gravity riding is so new to the area, it seems everyone wants to give it a try. I have seen all kinds of bikes on the lift, from 15-year-old full rigid XC bikes to fatbikes and full on DH rigs. I have also witnessed (though I don't recommend it) a brave kid on a trail-a-bike bouncing down Happy Camper behind his dad. The scene is great. It's a real laid back fun atmosphere. You will see experienced riders helping newbies with repairs at the bottom of the lift, offering riding and bike tuning tips on the trails, and of course sharing high fives all around at the end of a killer run. I think our Bike Park is really helping to strengthen the already strong riding community in Duluth and is helping people meet folks they would have otherwise never met. I know my group of friends have expanded thanks to the Bike Park. It has been a tremendous privilege to meet all the great folks that call Spirit Mountain's Bike Park home.
Tell me a little bit about your town. Where do out-of-towners like to stay while visiting Spirit Mountain? Are there any restaurants or bars that mtb-ers like to hang?
Duluth is such a great town with lots of great hotels, restaurants, and bars. Visit Duluth is a great resource for that kind of information. We have several great breweries and brew pubs and all kinds of unique local restaurants. Duluth is a big tourist town so there is a plethora of things to do and see other than riding your bike. Spirit Mountain's campground has some awesome campsites that are literally right near the start of Happy Camper and with-in minutes of downtown. I think that would be my choice for a place to stay if I didn't live here; it truly is a beautiful spot.
Will you have any big events going on this summer at your bike park?
We will be having some events in 2014. The plans are still in the works for these, but we will be hosting some local Enduro and DH races this summer. Stay tuned for details, as we will be letting everyone know as soon as we have more information. Check out our website and the coggs website for the latest information.
What does the future hold for Spirit Mountain?
The future looks great for the Spirit Mountain Bike Park with strong ridership and more trails coming. I have high hopes for a bright future. We will keep working on our bike park's master plan and hopefully continue on to more bigger and better trails.