This email came in recently. My response is first, then the original letter.
Thanks for the letter. It's FULL of good ideas! I'll post it at the web site so poeple can think about these things. Without your name of course, to protect your privacy. (I'm trying to be a clearinghouse of information as well as a whatever to get the idea going in the first place.)
The idea is that we have to answer each of your (and everybody elses) questions about safety and everything, so by being totally open about it, I think the answers will come. Maybe, for example, an insurance guy will contact me and say "yeah, it can be done. Here's how..."
Keep in touch,
It's a great idea. I'd be the first on line to ride and probably the first at your employment desk. (although I doubt you'll *need* much network engineering at a MTB resort)
I think you'll have more business than you can handle if you can create a professional resort. A guided tour over favorite local trails has been done many many times and most folks can't justify spending cash to ride where the locals ride for free, so this would have to be like a Ski-resort operation, well groomed, well mapped, well marked, plenty of facilities, parking, and lodging. Also modified lifts that go high enough for a long ride down, and DH specific trails for the gravity set. These should be blocked off by attendants who would make sure there's good lead time between riders and folks don't get in over their heads, and perhaps have a minimum bike & armor requirement. A trail difficulty rating system should be used as well. A medical facility is also a must as is trained EMS people and a good way to get injured people down from the mountain. The trails would also have to be patrolled to spot bad crash victms, lost riders and people doing stupid things like leaving their bike in the middle of the trail or throwing rocks or whatever.
A good night life would also be an added attraction. You might even want to consider something for riders with families that don't bike. ie Slow flat tours, a skate board half pipe, a rollerblade rink a pool, a nursery.
Bike repairs is a far more difficult matter than it seems. If someone crashes after they've had their bike serviced at the resort they may try to use that as a basis for a law suit. You would have to have well trained mechanics and a critical function checklist for every bike serviced, rental or owned. Also one *heck* of a waiver for folks with their own bikes. After all no one has *ever* shown up at vale with a set of HUFFY skis, but you can bet their bikes will be all over your resort.
The insurance companies may not be as "friendly" to your idea as they are to ski resorts so be prepared for a big battle there.
The lift process is another interesting matter. You have the opportunity to make this a better deal than the ski resorts. By that I mean, with out the high anxiety of getting on and off a moving platform. Consider a team of operators, two to load the bikes, one to seat the people, one to run the lift. All on each end. Or perhaps a clutch system that unhooks the chair at the ends so folks have time to load and unload. Whatever the means it has to be secure otherwise you'll end up buying a bike for someone every day.
Speaking of security, a means to lock-up unattended bikes is an absolute must. Bike theft is much higher than ski theft. I'd recommend having an attendant like at a coat check or at least one person watching the rack with a rule "No working on bikes on or near racks" to keep people from stripping parts off of locked bikes.
A music system in the main compound would be a nice thing also. Drinking water should be *very* available on the trailside as well as the main compound. (and don't even THINK of charging for it)
While I'm brain storming how about various levels of lessons, I found that a great help when I skied at Killington.
Well, this started out as a letter of support now it's a wish list. Let me know what you think and what you do. I'm very interested.
The Animated Software Company
Last modified March 27th, 1997.
Webwiz: Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman