Highland Mountain Bike Park is excited to announce their indoor training center, a 9,100 square foot structure that includes a massive foam pit with both a trick lip and drop into it, resi ramp and resi drop, and many other features for you to practice on before you take it out to the mountain.
Inside you can watch a killer video from Lucent Productions of Aaron Chase and other riders as they session the HTC's features, as well as read an interview with Highland's Mark Hayes about what it took to make it all happen.
The HTC looks like a dream come true for a lot of riders, but I'm guessing that it was quite a process to get the ball rolling. What was involved in getting the go ahead to build a facility like this?
Like any big structure, building a 9,100 square foot fabric building requires approval from the town planning board. It’s a process that could take several visits. In my case I went to a preliminary meeting and asked the board what they would be looking for. The meeting was scheduled and I had approval to build after the first visit in February of 2010. The legal process is unavoidable, but if the town likes what’s going on, it usually makes for an easier process.
That sounds like it went smooth! Maybe there are some riders on the board? After that it's time for the permits?
The board approval is completed by a majority vote of the town selectman. I received a Notice of Decision from the board, the OK from the fire department, and the building permit from the town code officer.
And after all the paper work was done, it was time to break ground?
We started preparing the lot in April for foundation walls and concrete flooring. The actual building was delivered in early June and the wooden features inside the building were completed by July. The actual building from concrete to wooden ramps was about three months.
Three months from start to finish! What type of building is it?
The building is a Calhoun Superstructure. I had originally ordered a fabric building by a company called Cover All and it turned out to be a bad move on my part. In December of 2009 I met with a Cover All sales rep to negotiate the purchase of a Cover All building. We had gone back and forth over the size and options and finally agreed on a price. It wasn’t until March of 2010 that we actually sat down to finalize the deal. About 10 minutes after signing the contract I got a call from Sean Calhoun the owner of Calhoun Superstructures. It turned out he was a huge fan of the mountain bike scene and an avid rider and racer. I was bummed that I hadn’t talked to this guy about 3 months earlier. In retrospect I should have tackled the Cover All rep in the parking lot to grab my deposit check back. It turned out that just three weeks after signing the deal with Cover All, the company filed for bankruptcy.
That must have been quite the setback...
Cover All was one of the biggest fabric manufacturers in the business so it was hard to see this coming. I hired a lawyer to try and get some money back, but ended up just spending more money. The whole experience was a nightmare! Not only was I out a few bucks, but we had already sent a press release to the bike world of our plans to build an indoor training center. It was already late March and buildings this size take time to purchase, engineer and deliver. Lucky for me I had Sean Calhoun to fall back on. Sean put the Highland project on high priority and was able to engineer, build and deliver our building in about 90 days. The building was up and the foam pit running for the Claymore Challenge in July!
That's awesome - bike brethren coming through! 9,100 square feet sounds massive, but I imagine that you still wanted to squeeze in as much as possible. Was it hard to decide what to include?
The goal was to build the HTC to mimic the features that we have scattered around the mountain, but in a controlled learning environment. Dave Smutok had been working on an indoor layout during the winter of 2010. He had a good vision from the beginning and presented the idea to me in a three dimensional drawing. The drawing helped us to visualize the space and how to maximize the flow. For the most part it came together pretty easy. Smutok has a good sense for this kind of thing. In addition we ended up contracting Brad and John from Skid Mark Parks to build the actual structures. These guys are riders that have been building ramps for skate and bike parks for years. The HTC was designed and built by experienced people and that just about took away any guess work.
So from start to finish it has been built by riders, for riders. What can people expect to see when they first enter the HTC?
You enter the building on the right hand side and there’s a ticket booth area. It sits directly below the walkway of the upper drop in deck. If you are on top of the drop in deck to the far left of the building you are ready to drop in on a vert quarter to box jump to step up to quarter. If you are riding this line you have the option to take a right just before the step-up. You hit a ramp to wall to foam pit. If you’re standing on the top deck, center of the building you will be looking down at the foam pit. There is a drop deck just above the foam pit with a movable ramp to practice flips to foam. In front of the foam pit is a permanent lip that runs width of the foam pit. It’s essentially a quarter into the foam. For bigger air, Brad and John built portable ramps that attach to the front deck of the foam quarter. It was a simple solution to a quick lip change. We also have a portable ladder that simulates the log ramp on our slopestyle course and a hitching post. The right side of the foam pit is a mini quarter to wall ride or if desired to foam pit. On the right side and far end of the building is a drop deck to resi-box. On top of the resi-box is a drop deck to resi.
The movable lips sound like a great idea...
The removable lips in front of the foam pit and resi-box add a tremendous amount of flexibility to the jumping component of the HTC. Riders just learning tricks have the mellow option, while more advanced riders can hook on the steep lipped ramps.
And who's idea are the movable lips for the foam pit?
That would be Brad and John from Skid Mark Parks.
So they just slide into place, no fuss?
Exactly. There are two 4”x4” wood columns under the ramps that insert into 4” x 4” cut outs on the front deck of the foam pit and resi-ramp to hold it in place.
Was an indoor park like the HTC always on Highland's wish list?
Not really. From the beginning I wanted the park to have the capacity to teach every level of rider. I believe Whistler came out with the Airdome around 2006 and that was our opening year. Seeing their building in action planted the seed, but it was still very early in the life of Highland. In 2007 Dave Smutok came on board to help design and build our jump park with a follow up project to build our slopestyle course. By 2008 we had jumps everywhere and our first major slopestyle competition, the Claymore Challenge. By the end of 2009 I was fully committed to building the Highland Training Center or HTC to help enhance the growth of our overnight, week long camp called the Ayr Academy. So the wish list included Highland as a legit training center for all levels of riding it just wasn’t till a few years in that an indoor park like the HTC became the reality.
Will it be open for riders all year, or just in the riding season?
The option to expand into a longer season is real, but the short term plan is keep the HTC open during the riding season only. Session passes will cost $12 with a discount for season pass holders. During 2010 the HTC was open for 1 session from 2:15PM to 5:00PM. Next year we will offer 3, 2 hour and 45 min public sessions. During the Ayr Academy weeks private sessions will be scheduled for the campers.
Are there plans afoot to have rider clinics?
Yes, the HTC was built for Highland Camps such as the week long Ayr Academy camp. Camp sessions will always take priority over the open public session. For 2011 our Ayr Academy coaches include Dave Smutok, Aaron Chase, James Patterson, Adam Hauck, and Clint McMahon. One of our resort partners is helmet camera manufacturer GoPro. Each Ayr Academy camper will have a camera to use throughout the week of the camp. The campers will have full use of the camper's lounge located under the foam pit drop deck in the HTC. The lounge will have a flat screen T.V. couch tables and a video editing station. The coaches will teach the students how to edit their footage a create movies of their Ayr Academy experience.