Keeping riders on the right trails
There is likely not a bike park in the world that has every rider make wise and accurate decisions on their ability and trail choice. We all have horror stories of riders riding well beyond their ability, throwing bikes over the filter feature, walking entire sections of a track, standing in the middle of jumps, the list goes on. The question is though, how do you keep riders on the right trail for their ability? If anyone has the answer, please let the rest of us know. This problem exists the world over and effective signage, filter features or even patroller interaction have not succeeded in solving the problem. To use Whistler again, but they are a great example. When A line opened they had to sit a patroller at the start drop for three years to deter riders. Last year they added a down ramp to the start drop and now people not only don’t hit the jump, or even roll down the ramp, some people are seen carrying their bikes down the start ramp.
A meeting was held this year in Rotorua, involving ACC and some key mountain bike people to look at mountain bike injury and a few conclusions were drawn:
- In the lower ability levels of riding there is a “what’s the worst that could happen” attitude that leads them to roll down an advanced jump trail for example. Now these riders are too inexperienced to know what the worst that could happen is. Is it because experienced riders have all taken a good tumble, know the consequence more and know their ability better?
- Intermediate riders are the most at risk because they are starting to push the limits of their ability and are still finding consequence. The speed gets faster, the jumps get bigger but the ambition exceeds the ability.
- There is a distinct difference from mountain biking to skiing in the willingness to take a lesson to gain better skills. If you want to learn how to ski, are returning to skiing or can ski and want to get better, you will get a lesson. Mountain biking has not followed this model.
As an operator, until someone does come up with the solution, the best we can do is keep our customers informed by way of effective signage, staff interaction and filter features where appropriate. Outside of the business, the likes of ACC can potentially have future effect. Look at the helmets on ski field’s promotion a few years back. No one wore them and now you are pushed to find someone without them. This can arguably be put down to joint Ski Industry and ACC promotion.