Mountain biking returns to Mount Washington after 3-year hiatus
Consultant John Luton says cycle tourism comes with economic spinoff benefits
The new owners of the Mount Washington Alpine Resorts are hoping to capitalize on the growing popularity of mountain biking on Vancouver Island.
The resort pulled the plug on its summer bike park three years ago, but the new owners are giving it another shot.
"We've got the infrastructure that's available and you want to use it up as best you can," said Don Sharpe, Mount Washington's director of business operations and marketing.
"The fact that we have a lot of people who have very similar jobs in the winter time that will come back and do it in the summer time is a big advantage for us."
Sharpe said it's clear the sport has an increasing number of fans on Vancouver Island.
"You can see in the growth of people riding their bikes all over the place," said Sharpe. "Mountain biking is a growth sport and it's a great opportunity for us to get back in the game."
Mount Washington is not alone in trying to capitalize on the trend — Bear Mountain near Victoria has also expanded its trail network, and is now home to the national mountain bike team.
Active transportation consultant John Luton says cycle tourism brings plenty of economic spinoff benefits.
"[Mountain bikers] need 5,000 calories a day. So if you sell beer, you've got a bakery, you've got a restaurant, we're twice as profitable as any other tourist," he said.
The new Mount Washington bike park opens next week.
With files from Megan Thomas