Posts Tagged ‘Bicycling’

Monday, August 3, 2009

Opinion: ORDA Should Stop Giving Gore Mountain Short Shrift

Without announcement Gore Mountain has quietly shuttered their mountain biking facilities and reduced their already paltry off-season schedule – it’s a further sign to some in the North Creek area that the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) has been giving the Gore Mountain ski resort short shrift. For much of the last decade the Gore Mountain schedule has changed frequently and been sporadic. Plans to cut back summer operations in 2002 prompted a vigorous lobbying effort by North Creek businesses.

“Our off season schedule has always been weekends in the fall,” Gore Mountain General Manager Mike Pratt told me by e-mail, “We have often tried to extend season into the summer, when we think there is an opportunity.” Last year Gore operated weekends in August, and in September through Columbus Day, but with only scenic rides and a bar-b-que according to Pratt, who is responsible for the Gore Mountain schedule. This year’s schedule will be shortened by ten days (Labor Day through Columbus Day) but will also include lift service for mountain biking. “This year’s schedule is our traditional schedule,” Pratt told me, “Although we have tried various schedules to extend our off-season operation, we have consistently reduced the season back to our traditional times of operation, the fall foliage season.”

Pratt says that Whiteface’s Veterans Memorial Highway drives business at Whiteface. “At Gore Mountain, we only have a scenic ride and a bbq. We are making many improvements, are on a tremendous growth curve, are thankful for our gondola, but are not a summer destination.”

Pratt called the notion that Gore Mountain was being shorted by ORDA “the perception… not the reality.” He noted that Gore Mountain is busy with construction projects now including “modernizing the base lodge, building a new lodge at the Ski Bowl, installing snow making pipe on the Sagamore Trail, and working on building trails and installing a triple chair that will complete the interconnect project between Gore and the Ski Bowl.” “I am certain the venues around Lake Placid wish that they were able to invest as much in their facilities as we are,” Pratt says “This is a very exciting time at Gore.”

It might be an exciting time at Gore, but this summer’s rains have surely meant diminished business at North Creek – Gore Mountain could have offered a boost to the sluggish tourist economy. Gore Mountain, like Whiteface, needs to offer summer activities, events, and programs to better utilize the mountain – owned by all New York taxpayers – to fire another cylinder of North Creek’s regional economic engine.

What’s more, Gore needs to have an equal footing with Whiteface in promotions. Gore is almost never mentioned in ORDA press releases, while Whiteface is continuously promoted at the end of each ORDA release with the words: “For more information on ORDA venues and events and for web cams from five locations, please log on to www.whitefacelakeplacid.com.” Those going to the site can choose between two destinations – Lake Placid (last time I checked, not run by ORDA) and Whiteface.

Gore? Nowhere to be found.

There are more then 40 events on the ORDA summer schedule, but Gore is not mentioned until “Mountain Day,” September 12th and the link to that event is bad. Gore has plans for just one additional weekend worth of events until the ski season begins. By way of contrast, Whiteface has Gondola rides, mountain biking, a new disc golf course, guided nature tours, and a weekend-long Octoberfest.

By anyone’s standard, ORDA is falling down on its obligation – and its legislative mandate to manage Gore Mountain. All while claiming, as it did in its 2008-2009 Annual Report, that “during the non-winter months, Gore offers mountain biking, hiking and other summer activities.”

That’s not true, but the management of ORDA and Gore Mountain need to work to make it so – not next year, not next month, but now.

 


Friday, June 5, 2009

Wilmington: New Multi-use Flume Trail System Opens

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has officially opened the Flume Trail System as the first trail system on forest preserve lands in the Adirondacks designed to allow mountain biking. Representatives and staff from DEC, the Town of Wilmington, the Wilmington Mountain Peddlers, Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and Whiteface Mountain Ski Area and the members of the public attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the trailhead in the Wilmington Wild Forest. Earlier that morning volunteers spent time working on the trails. Afterward the Town of Wilmington and the Wilmington Mountain Peddlers hosted a barbecue.

The Flume Trail System includes approximately eight miles of trails for four season recreational activities including mountain biking, hiking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. The trails were designed to meet the specifications of the International Mountain Bicycling Association and include trails rated as easy, moderate and hard. The system includes a trail along the West Branch of the Ausable River and a hiking only trail to Flume Knob.

The majority of the trails lie within the Wilmington Wild Forest unit of the forest preserve, however, approximately two miles of trail are located on the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area, which is operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

The Town of Wilmington strongly advocated for mountain bike trails during DEC’s development of the management plan for the Wilmington Wild Forest. In addition to the Flume Trail System, the management plan, which was approved in October 2005, also proposes a seven mile multi-use trail system in the Beaver Brook Tract, off of Hardy Road, designed to include mountain biking. The Town also appropriated funds to pay for the Adirondack Mountain Club’s professional trail crew to construct new trail segments at the Flume in 2007.

The Wilmington Mountain Peddlers have been involved from the early days of trail development at the Flume, and have also been strong advocates for mountain bike trails. The group has volunteered countless hours to construct and maintain the trails. They will continue to maintain the Flume Trail System under DEC’s Adopt-A- Natural-Resource program.

In addition to work by their professional crew, the Adirondack Mountain Club has organized numerous volunteer work projects to upgrade existing trails and construct new trail segments at the Flume. An ADK volunteer trail crew will be constructing a new trail to connect the Flume Trail System with the Whiteface Trail from the Wilmington reservoir this summer.

The Whiteface Mountain Ski Area has allowed some of their trails to be included in the Flume Trail network for the free use of the public. These include a scenic trail along the West Branch of the Ausable River, utilized by bikers, hikers, and anglers. Mountain bikers can pay a fee to access the ski areas other 25 trails and the gondola to the top of Little Whiteface. Crews from Whiteface also assisted in the construction of some of the initial trails in the trail system. A proposed hiking only trail to Bear Den Cliffs, will be constructed in the future on the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area lands, and will be open to the public as part of the Flume Trail system.

The Flume Trail System can be accessed from trailhead on Route 86, approximately 2 miles west of the hamlet of Wilmington or from the Kid’s Campus parking lot at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

ORDA Announces Summer Olympic Venue Schedules

The New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) will soon be re-opening the Olympic venues for the summer and fall seasons. Facilities scheduled to open in the coming weeks include the Whiteface Mountain Highway, the Olympic Sports Complex, the Olympic Jumping Complex, Whiteface Ski Center, and the Olympic Center skating rink. A variety of events, tours, and opportunities are being offered,

The Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway in Wilmington kicked-off the openings on Friday (May 15). The highway allows visitors to drive to the top of the fifth-highest peak in the Adirondacks. The highway is an eight-mile drive from Wilmington to the summit, where a castle made of native stone and an in-mountain elevator await. The highway will be open daily from 9 am – 4 pm thru October 12.

The Olympic Sports Complex, where the combined bobsled/luge/skeleton track and the 1980 Olympic Bobsled Track are located, began summertime venue tours Saturday (May 16). Tours will be available daily thru October 12 from 9 am – 4 pm. The Lake Placid Bobsled Experience consists of a ½-mile wheeled bobsled ride with a professional driver and brakeman through awe-inspiring turns, a 4”x6” photo, commemorative pin, a team gift and more. The LPBE is scheduled to begin May 30 for weekends only from 10 am – 4 pm through June 21. Starting June 27, bobsled rides will be available Thursday through Monday until September 6.

Mountain biking on the cross country ski trails at the Olympic Sports Complex begins May 23 with the trails open on weekends only thru June 21, with daily operation beginning June 27. The venue offers over 20 miles of trails for riders from beginner to intermediate. High Peaks Cyclery runs the mountain bike center at the venue and offers lessons, rentals, and trail passes. The trails will be open from 10 am – 5 pm, and rentals are available.

The “Be a Biathlete” clinics begin June 27 at the Olympic Sports Complex Biathlon Range. Participants learn the basics of the sports of biathlon, are taught gun safety, and then get to shoot a .22 caliber rifle at the same targets used during the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. This program is offered Thursday through Monday from 10 am – 4 pm.

The Olympic Jumping Complex, home to the 90-meter and 120-meter ski jump towers and the freestyle aerial training facility, is currently open 9 am – 4 pm Thursday-Sunday. The complex offers a 26-story elevator ride to the Sky Deck atop the 120-meter tower for spectacular views of the Adirondacks, and on May 23 opens the chairlift from the base lodge to the base of the ski jump towers as well. The chairlift and elevator are open Friday-Sunday until June 26, when both the chairlift and elevator will be open daily.

The Olympic Jumping Complex is also home to the Soaring Saturdays and Wet and Wild Wednesdays jumping series. Each Saturday, beginning July 4 and running thru August 22, top Eastern ski jumpers take to the hill in hopes of landing the longest jumps of the day. The season ends with the Flaming Leaves Festival October 10-11.

At the freestyle aerial center, aerialists of all types launch from one of three kickers high into the air, performing twists, flips and turns before splashing down in the 750,000-gallon pool. The pool opens for the summer training season in June. The center is home to the weekly Wet and Wild Wednesday aerials shows, beginning July 8 and running through August 26. Another highlight at the pool is the annual Huck & Tuck Summer Freestyle Competition, slated for August 29.

The Whiteface Ski Center will open for the summer season on June 19. The mountain offers scenic Cloudsplitter gondola rides which take guests to the summit of Little Whiteface, lift-serviced downhill mountain bike trails for pedalers of all abilities. For further mountain biking information go to www.downhillmike.com. Whiteface also offers an hour and a half nature trek to the beautiful Stag Brook Falls. Gondola rides and mountain biking are available daily from 10 am – 4:30 pm thru September 7. Nature treks depart the base lodge each day at 11 am from June 26 to September 17.

The Olympic Center is celebrating the 77th Anniversary of the Summer Skating Program. In addition to being named “The Best Summer Skating Camp for Kids” by Sports Illustrated For Kids magazine, the Olympic Center also offers basic skills lessons, hockey power skating classes, and hosts the weekly Citizens Bank Skating Series, including Freaky Friday and Saturday Night Ice Shows. This year the Olympic Center is host to the annual Lake Placid Free Skating Championships and the Ice Dance Championships, as well as the USA Hockey Junior Men’s Camp.

For more information on ORDA venues and events and for web cams from five locations visit www.whitefacelakeplacid.com.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Placidians Win Multisport Mountain Race

Congratulations to five Lake Placid residents who won the team category in the Tuckerman Inferno pentathalon Saturday. The course links running (8.3 miles), downriver kayaking (7.5 miles), bicycling (18 miles), hiking (3.5 miles) and finally a 600-foot climb-up/ski-down of Tuckerman Ravine, the spring backcountry ski mecca on the side of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.

The Inferno combines the April recreation options of hardcore Northeastern mountain jocks. Team Lake Placid finished in 3:46:21, ten minutes ahead of a second-place group from Vermont. The Lake Placid crew comprised people who manage to stay seriously fit despite serious day jobs: Marc Galvin (run), Charlie Cowan (kayak), Edward Sparkowski (bike), Jeff Erenstone (hike) and Laurie Schulz (ski).

Also Saturday fourteen club cyclists with Team Placid Planet finished the punishing 65-mile Tour of the Battenkill in southern Washington County, the largest bike race in the United States. The loop includes about 15 unpaved miles and attracts both amateur and pro riders with its challenging hills. Among Adirondackers competing were Keith Hager, Dan Anhalt, Bill McGreevy, Charlie Mitchell, Jim Walker, Bruce Beauharnois, Ed Smith, Dan Reilly, Bill Schneider, Bill Whitney, Tim Akers, Shawn Turner, Darci LaFave and Susanna Piller.



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