Prepping for Dual Slolam
Week 9 at Beech Mountain has been all about the dual slalom, well that and a whole lot of race prep. First we will start with the slalom. Like I already said we have a lot of dirt, and what a great problem to have. When you walk up to the hill you seen one massive landing, the first comment out of most people's mouth is "is that a motorcycle jump?" It has become a joke among the builders and now when we here it we just smile and and exchange a quiet look of laughter between us. In my opinion the slalom has turned out well and I owe the basic concept to someone other than myself. Earlier this year in Austria I asked Mitch Ropelato if he was racing 4X at National Champs, his answer was "No!" well there was a 4 letter word before that no. I then asked if he would race Dual Slalom if that was raced at National Champs and he excitedly said "Yes". For those of you that don't know Mitch he is one of fastest men in the world on a Slalom bike, the guy does things that aren't possible. Anyways back to the point, I already knew we were racing slalom at Nationals but wasn't supposed to let it out yet. So I just asked Mitch what type of slalom he would like to race? His response was lots of turns like Whistler where I don't have to pedal at all and maybe a few big jumps. Well......I am not saying it is like Whistler because those are big shoes to fill but the rest is pretty much covered. Thanks Mitch, I am glad I didn't have to come up with the course on my own.
The Dual Slalom Course
The guys have worked so hard from day one on this project and the slalom has been no different. It was a mission to make it right and to make something that would hold up to a lot of punishment. The dirt isn't even close to the good stuff we have worked with elsewhere here at Beech but it has been compacted in lifts from the ground up and in some cases that means 8-10 feet high two inches at a time. I don't know how many tons of rocks have been raked and moved but it is a lot. In my opinion flow is the best thing on a bike, it doesn't matter if it is jumps, berms, trail, whatever it is flow is what I look for. While the track has been finished for two days now I have only watched people ride it and I have to say it looks pretty fun. Tomorrow is my day to finally try it out and I can guarantee one thing, if it isn't fun than tomorrow is going to be a long day on the machine changing things up before the big test event this Sunday. Slalom was my thing back in the day and I want this one to be perfect. There are a lot of turns, lots of rollers and a few big jumps for the pro guys to show their stuff on. I hope everyone enjoys riding the track as much as I enjoyed building it because it has been a fun one.
I can't go without mentioning the race prep for this coming weekend. Yesterday I did my second walk through on both tracks with risk management and the general manager of the mountain Ryan Costin. I know most of you are thinking that was probably not a fun day.....well you are actually wrong. I would probably rather be building than walking and talking but from a racers perspective it is nice to know that safety is on their mind. I also know most of you are also thinking they must want really easy....wrong again. It has been great to work with a progressive thinking mountain where they realize things don't have to be "dumbed" down to be safe. The walk through consisted of medical evacuation routes, identifying potential hazards, but most of all it seemed they just wanted to be familiar with the new terrain on their mountain to better serve the riders in an emergency. As a rider that means a lot to me, we all know downhill can be a dangerous sport and it is nice to ride on a mountain where I truly feel they are prepared for whatever comes their way.
That wasn't all the race prep, but was something really important to me as a rider. Big, Big, Big News!!!!!! All the bicycle lift trays are on mountain and the mountain staff has been working non-stop getting them ready to be put on the lift tomorrow. The first was installed today and the guys have worked until dark every night this week to get it all finished. I can't say enough how appreciative I am of that. For those of you coming out to ride this weekend remember to give them all a big thanks when you seen them. Well beyond that, which is the important stuff there has just been a whole lot of raking, shoveling, seeding, watering, hiking, poling, taping, weed eating, stressing, and that little bit of riding tonight that made it all worth while.
Quad Lift Bicycle Lift Trays
We hope the test event goes off without a hitch but we will guarantee we will try our best to fix anything we see before Nationals comes around.
A huge thanks to Talia, Bobby, Scott, Robbie, Jesse, Kenny, Ryan, Gil, Moto, Danny, Alex, Dan, Austin, Andrew, Judy at Pinnacle, Candi at Jackalopes, Riley and everyone else at the town of Beech, Carolina Cat for the amazing machines, and everyone else that has made this project come together the way it has. It has been a fun one that is finally winding down. I hope to have a full race report up from the weekend and also many more blogs in the future with the possible bike park expansion.
Heads Down and Still Working
The Dual Slalom Course
It is amazing how quickly time slips by when you are working on a project like this. As it usually happens, it was just brought to my attention that it has been two weeks since the last entry. Don't let the delay fool you though, lot's of work has been completed since then.
Week 7-- With the arrival of a almost new (46hrs) Cat 289 skid steer loader we tackled the old mountain board park. In the mountain board park alone there were over 80 dump truck loads of dirt and at this point we have almost moved all of them at least a little bit. This is where the AM track and the Pro track combine and will feature five large berms, two step downs, the biggest roller you have ever seen and a 35' table. Going to be a spectators favorite as well as a rider favorite as the speeds are fast and it appears to flow pretty well. I say appears to flow well because none of us have actually ridden it......Head down just working. We did however have local kayak legend Pat Keller on site for a day trying out some lines and he seemed to be having the time of his life.
Week 8--This week has been all about the Dual Slalom. Have you ever had the problem of to much dirt??? Well...at the beginning of this week the task at hand seemed a little daunting. We had a slope with 120 off road dump truck loads of dirt on it. That equals about 300 highway dump truck loads to give it perspective. Again the Cat skid steer went to work and it has been non stop ever since. We are currently just over half way up the slalom track and it is shaping into something very unique. Yesterday we took a few minutes out of the day to test out the "pro" jump section and I have to say I was a little more than nervous. In the end all went well and we are back at it again today.
Just over a week away until the National Champs qualifying race here at Beech. I really look forward to seeing everyone finally getting to ride the track.
Punching through the Pro Track
Oh man, it has been a while. Amazing the things you forget to do when you are fully vested in a project. Progress has been great!!! Before leaving last Thursday for a Specialized/GROM race weekend and camp in Snowshoe, WV we punched through the upper woods section on the Pro track. I had some really frustrating and scary moments due to the steep and slick conditions present on the upper pro track. It was really exciting to see the trail finally connect as we have been working from both ends at times during the project. Upper pro track is going to be the battle of line selection with most sections have more than one option that usually offer a benefit and a consequence depending what you choose.
The CAT 304
While I have been away Danny and Mike have been hard at work. First of chipping more brush(We are on our 7th full 25ft box truck of wood chips) then finishing the remaining hand work on the upper section of pro woods. Rock armoring at the road crossing is almost complete with the exception of a few large boulders that need to be placed on the pro track drop in. Today the guys are working on initial prep of the Dual Slalom area. This is great to finally see happening and means we are getting close to the end of the project. Lot's of machine work left to be done but we are within a few weeks of Downhill track completion.
As always thanks for all the people that have helped with the project. I know it is something we will all be proud of.
Big Equipment, Big Progress
It has been another great week at Beech Mountain. We started off the week with the help of the town of Beech Mountain, chipping all the brush that we had removed from the woods along the track. It took most of the day, as we removed a lot of brush to ensure great spectating. Tuesday we saw the arrival of a brand new CAT 304 excavator, compliments of Carolina CAT. Let me tell you, this excavator is nice; full enclosed cab, AC, mirrors, and it is strong. We have been moving some massive rocks, since the arrival of the machine. It has been exciting to start working on the Pro track again, as we haven't been on it since week one. We have the lower woods section almost complete and there are some really unique jumps that are going to push riders limits. Last week we saw a lot of individual volunteers coming out to lend a hand. It is nice for Danny and Mike to have some one new to talk to, as they are pretty tired of me at this point. Again thanks to everyone that is helping to make this happen, especially Carolina CAT. They have made life on the Mountain a lot more enjoyable.
The CAT 304
Look forward to seeing you all at the event.
Week Two/Three Progress
Week two and Three have gone amazing at Beech. Week two saw a lot of hand work in all the "Natural" sections of the tracks. These sections were areas that we really wanted to preserve the existing feel, we look for lots of roots to appear in these sections after the trails start to be ridden. We spent a couple for days on the pro rock section trying to make sure all the holes were filled and there weren't two many nasty edges to get hung up on. Lot's of afternoon rain this week which meant we worked through the weekend to catch up on lost time.
The Build Crew
Week Three has been all about the machine. We got a mini excavator last Friday and it has been worked ever since. We have been putting in pipes and working up a lot of berms. The focus has been the AM track as we will be racing it in August. We are about 75% done with the AM woods but still have a pretty good bit of work to do at the start and the finish. The Pro and AM track will merge about 40 seconds from the finish and there will be some serious machine built stuff in these areas. For now the focus is in the woods as this will be the stuff that needs the longest amount of time to mature into a race ready track.
Dirt for the slalom started to arrive yesterday and we are excited about seeing some movement over at the slalom hill. Still a while off before we start construction of the slalom, but the arrival of dirt is huge progress.
Danny and Mike have been amazing over the past weeks. I have gotten a little bit of a break with the arrival of the excavator. The two of them have probably only seen an increase in hard labor as the machine speeds things up greatly but has a tendency to make a mess in the process. I think everyone was almost a little relieved when we woke up to heavy rains today. While I hate to see a break in the progress, I was going on my 26th straight day of work so it is nice to be forced to take a rest.
The volunteer day was huge!!!! Thanks for all that came out to help. We managed to make short work of cleaning up the remaining brush in the woods and leftover trash for ski season. We look forward to having another one sometime soon when more people can get an opportunity to see the progress here at Beech Mountain.
A big thanks to everyone that has been helping, especially the maintenance crew on the mountain. They have helped keep things flowing almost effortlessly.
Week One Progress
The first week at Beech Mountain has been amazing. Our accommodations at The Pinnacle are great and overlook the slopes and woods we are working on. We came into an amazing sunset Sunday night and the weather has been great minus one serious afternoon thunderstorm. I am fortunate to have Danny and Mike as they are hard workers and the progress this week has been more than satisfying. The pro track corridor was completely cut in the first day on the Mountain and the Am track followed the next day. Brush is being taken to the slopes and chipped so there will be clean woods for easy spectator access. The photographers and video guys should love it as well. There are some pretty long lines of sight on both tracks which always makes for better spectating. The pro track has a pretty "mean" rock section that seems to go on for ever. Both tracks have plenty of potential option lines and should carry pretty good flow. All and all the first week has been a great one and the guys and I look forward to another great week of progress.
National's Trail Construction And Lift Upgrades Underway
Beech Mountain, NC- The goal for many seasonal resorts is how to transition themselves into year-round destinations.
For Beech Mountain Resort, that has been a long-time vision of general manager Ryan Costin, who believes serving as host venue this year for USA Cycling’s Mountain Bike Gravity Nationals might make his dream a reality.
A trail system is currently under construction at Beech Mountain Resort and Costin believes the trails will be an attraction during the summer months for bikers from across the Southeast. The trail system is being designed by Christopher Herndon, a Brevard native who began racing cross country at 8 years of age.
Three new Bike Trails
Herndon has raced professionally since 2000, participating as an elite US Downhill member for 2006-2007 and was the Dual Slalom National Champion in 2007. He founded Specialized/GROM in 2010, which showcases some of the top talent for the junior contingent in the United States.
Herndon has made Beech Mountain his racing homestead for many years. He is a trail design leader in the Southeast, but his experience from racing and coaching has defined his insight and knowledge of trail building.
Overseeing the construction of the trail system at Beech Mountain Resort, is proving to be Herndon’s largest project yet. With the help of Danny Caesar of Etowah and Mike Thomas of Boone, Herndon will design three race courses in preparation for Nationals, September 22-25.
Christopher HerndonPhoto by Patrick Sullivan-Hendersonville Times-News
In addition to preparations for nationals, Herndon will continue the expansion of the trail system, enabling Beech Mountain Resort to operate as a bike park in the summer months.
“We are proud and excited to work with Christopher Herndon on the construction of this facility,” said Costin. “We believe that Herndon will provide an innovative design and a flawless build, enabling us to maintain our standard of perfection.”
Embracing the potential of the Beech Mountain Resort Bike Park, Monster Energy has agreed to be primary sponsor for the bike tray system on the lift.
Christopher Herndon, Danny Cesare, Mike Thomas
The design for the Monster Energy lift trays is based on the tray system at British Columbia’s Whistler Mountain. With the installation of this system, Beech Mountain Resort will be the only bike park of its kind in the Southeast.
The lift trays allow the rider to self-load his or her bike and ride the following chair up the mountain, thus minimizing rough handling and the unnecessary wear on the bikes. The high-speed detachable quad allows for easy loading and unloading of bikes. The lift system will accommodate four riders and serves to increase capacity and shorten lift lines.
The Bike Park will provide more operational dates in 2012, with a mission to provide users with a unique, diverse system of sustainable safe trails for recreational and competitive mountain biking.
“As a local of the East Coast, I realize the importance of building a trail system that can hold up to constant wet conditions,” said Herndon. “I look forward to showing the country, what Beech Mountain has to offer.”