Calling all adrenaline junkies – the downhill bike trails are open!
Horseshoe Resort’s bike park opened this week and downhill mountain bike enthusiasts are excited to get back into their exhilarating sport – often described as “an adrenaline rush on two wheels.”
With the closure of downhill mountain biking at Blue Mountain Resort last year, Horseshoe Resort is the only place in Ontario offering mountain biking with chair lift access. Cyclists, along with their bikes, are transported to the top of the hill where they make their way down – the adrenaline rush part – on a variety of trails designed specifically for the sport.
“We have something for every level of mountain biker here,” explains Hannah Simms, recreation product manager at Horseshoe Resort. “Beginners enjoy the super fun flowy trails, while more advanced riders go for the technical trails and jump hills.”
Melanie and Ryan Karns, who have been downhill mountain bikers for about ten years, say they love the variety at Horseshoe.
“I like that it’s got everything – techie steep stuff and the flowy, smooth trails and the fun jump line,” said Ryan.
“I like the sand; it’s never slippery,” added Melanie.
When asked about the appeal of the sport, the Karns readily admitted they were adrenaline junkies.
“We grew up on dirt bikes and snowmobiles as kids. We first tried downhill biking at Blue Mountain and now we’re addicted.” So much so, that the couple regularly makes the trek from their home in Sudbury to enjoy the trails at Horseshoe.
Simms has noticed an increase in participation over the past couple of years and credits the trail crew for the popularity of the Horseshoe bike park.
“We have a really awesome team led by Matt Konings that puts a lot of work into the trails. They’re continually doing new things and keeping it fresh. They always consider the progression of riders when building trails, making sure there’s something for everyone.”
And that includes Simms. An avid cyclist herself, she finds downhill riding to be “super fun,” and spends her lunch break on the trails when she can.
“I grew up in Horseshoe Valley and have always biked; both my parents rode and raced,” explained Simms.
After completing university studies in kinesiology and business at Queen’s University, she moved home to save money, not really expecting to stay or work at the resort.
“It’s a great place to be. There’s an awesome excitement at Horseshoe right now. There’s always something new and challenging.”
This summer, new trails will be added to the bike park, along with a skills park and pump track, giving riders additional areas to ride and a place to practice skills.
A mountain bike camp for kids ages five to 12 is also being offered for the first time this summer.
“We have run summer camps in the past, but not specifically focused on mountain biking,” explained Simms. “Campers will be doing downhill trails as well as cross-country and the new skills park will be a great place for learning and practicing.”
For those who like a fun competition, the Horseshoe Trail Showdown Weekly Race Series, which launched last summer, will be running again on Wednesday nights.
“Our downhill race series was super popular last year,” said Simms. “Each week we pick a race trail and competitors complete two timed runs, with their best time being entered for awards. We have categories for 10 years and under up to the masters 50 years+ riders.”
In September, Horseshoe Resort will be the host venue for the internationally-recognized “Sea Otter” downhill mountain biking competition.
“This will be an exciting weekend of competition and an opportunity for the downhill mountain biking community to come together,” said Simms. “As well as a variety of races taking place throughout the weekend, there will be a large expo with all the latest new products and gear for the sport.”
Equipment and accessories are always a big part of any sport, and downhill mountain biking is no exception.
In addition to a dedicated bike service and rental facility on-site, Horseshoe Resort has just opened a new bike shop for cycling gear, helmets and clothing. Head bike technician, Andrew Doble, can help beginners get set for a day of riding and has the expertise to help all riders make the most of their downhill adventures.
The bike shop services are all currently curbside pick-up only, one of the ways the Resort is adapting to meet COVID-19 health guidelines.
Similar to the ski season, riders can try out and experience Horseshoe’s bike park by purchasing season passes or daily lift tickets. Information about all the summer mountain bike opportunities at Horseshoe, including day camps and events, can be found online at the Horseshoe Resort website.