Friday, April 27, 2012

How to get skibiking approved at your local ski resort

 Skibiking is slowly making inroads and access at ski resorts.  New ski resorts are being added every season in Colorado, the USA, and the world.

Getting bikes approved for use a ski resort is not simple.  Just demanding access and annoying the resort management will only dig a hole that one will have to dig oneself out of.

If one is truly serious about getting approval at a local ski resort, it is going to take time and continuous committed effort on your part.  Persuasion and persistence are key.

Become part of the ski industry  - nothing gets respect quicker than a fellow ski industry member.   While grassroots organizations are a start, they get little respect from the ski industry.  Get a part-time job within the industry and start asking questions.

Make or join an organized group -  If a organization only has a few members, why should a ski resort or the industry respect it?  Even the enthusiasts aren't taking it seriously.  Ski resorts respect groups that bring business to the table.

Ride a manufactured skibike - Show that you support the industry by supporting the builders.  Many ski resorts are now open in Colorado due to the direct efforts of manufacturers.  Conversion are great for the backyard but they are not specially designed for loading on chairlifts or the impacts that they can encounter.

Know the ski resorts business model  - Every ski resort is different in subtle ways.  If they weren't, they wouldn't still be in business.  Know the niche the resort fills.   Analyze the resorts business model and see if it is a viable money earning asset to the resort.  Don't say it will - show it will.

Bottom line - it's all about the money - Realize that ski resorts don't want to take the added risks and headaches associated with a new sport unless it contributes to the resorts revenue.  The ski industry has high overhead, high labor costs, and high risks.  They want people there who spend money - i.e. buy those $15 hamburgers, buy window rate lift tickets, book lodging, bring groups or families.   If it's a sport that doesn't bring money - forget it.

Write thank you letters to ski resort CEO's that do allow them - let management know you bought slope-side food, stayed in resort-owned lodging, spend money in local shops.  If a big group came as a result, mention that in the letter.

Get educated about all types and be inclusive - Know the types out there.  The ski resort may not know all of them but they've probably heard about a 'dangerous' type.  Know the advantages and challenges of skibobs and pegs.  Be able to plug the benefits of both types.

Get your certification (license) and learn how peggers and skibobs work  - Many ski resorts require certification before riders can load chairlifts.  At a minimum the rider knows the proper way to board a lift with their equipment.   Getting a license shows you have some commitment to the sport and have some training on its use.  Skibobs are easy to learn.  Peg are just as safe but qualified instruction makes them even safer.

Know where one can buy or rent one - People can't buy or rent if they don't how to obtain one.  Know your local sources.  Network with manufacturers directly.  A variety of affordable bikes can be obtained from in the USA.

Be a good rider and be able to demonstrate that -  The last thing ski resorts want to see are more people out of control on their slopes.  If you still need to put down a foot to stop your pegger, you're not qualified.  Be able to demo skidded traverses, skidded turns, and stopping in control without putting any feet down on a peg bike.

Know the ski industry risk management concerns -  Do not downplay this or try to cover up the risks.  That doesn't work.   Educate yourself about chairlift and leash concerns.  Know and be about to explain how various skibikes load onto the lift and when leashes are appropriate.

Approach the ski resort CEO and ask for a meeting - Get a Powerpoint presentation together, your facts organized, and be able to organize a demo day for all the management influencers at the ski resort.  Get the head of Lift Ops, Ski Patrol, Ski School, Marketing, and the CEO all on the skibikes.  Be prepared to teach a proper lesson for safe useage.

Find out how snowboarders got approval - Those 30 years old and younger may not remember what snowboarders had to go through to get approval to ride at ski resorts.

Know local ski industry influencers and events - networking works in other industries and the ski industry is no different.  Go to events where ski industry people gather and talk business.  Bring business cards and a networking 2 minute speech.

Know what ski resorts permit them in your area - Before a resort will permit skibikes, they are going to want to know who else allows them.  They probably will then call that resorts management.  Know the more well-known resorts that permit them and their rules and regulations.  That will help the new resort determine risks and what skibike rules to implement.

Know the rules and regulations that govern your ski industry - There's more to it than the Responsibility Code that all skiers and riders must follow.   Know what applies in your area.   Know the tramway board regulations.  Tramway boards are responsible for regulating ski chairlifts.

Know the government permitting system in your area -  If the ski area isn't on private land, it's probably on public land.  The U.S. Forest Service is responsible for ski area permitting in the Western USA.  Find out who the Forest Service Ranger contact is for your area.   Ask for help or advice and then listen.

Remember Taos Ski Valley - It wasn't too many years ago that Taos still banned snowboarders.  It was simple economics that got the ban removed.  Families wouldn't vacation there because many members snowboarded.  The resort revitalized after the ban was lifted.

Getting skibiking permitted at ski resorts is not simple.  It takes time, effort, persistence, and dedication.  If you love the sport, make the commitment.

© 2012 G. Kunkel and A Colorado Skibiker Goes Skibiking. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and A Colorado Skibiker Goes Skibiking with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Monday, April 9, 2012

How Lenz Sport Skibikes are Made

Ever wonder what goes into making a Lenz Sport?  Devin Lenz was interviewed at his shop in Fort Lupton, Colorado in January 2011 and gave some insight.

Devin builds custom mountain bikes and skibikes in his shop.  Most parts used in construction are manufactured right in his shop from aluminum blocks, tubes, and sheets.

Quality is a high priority in his shop.  Attention to detail and meticulous precision are qualities that Devin demands from himself and his crew.  It shows up in his bikes.

So if you wonder what goes into a professional skibike build - sit back and watch.

Devin Lenz How It's Made - Custom Mountain bikes from Scott Wilson on Vimeo.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

How skibikes can derail or jam a chairlift

If skibikes aren't loaded  or unloaded properly on a chairlift, they can either derail the cable or jam it.  It's one reason why its a good idea for ski resorts to require certification/license before they can get on their lifts.

Durango Mountain Resort in southern Colorado requires all riders to show certification every time before they get on a chairlift.  Its prevented any lift incidents from happening at the bottom and top stations.  Other ski resorts that do not require certification to board a chairlift have experienced bottom lift station incidents.

The clearance between the bottom of a chair and the snow surface can vary from chairlift to chairlift at ski resorts.  They can even vary during the day due to changing snow conditions at the same chairlift.  This includes the top and bottom lift stations.

Some skibikes are designed to be loaded and carried underneath the chairlift chair.  Examples of this include the Geary Storm, and the Ultimate Snow Toys 3Ski.  These designs may be a disaster waiting to happen if the rider is unaware of the potential to cause damage to the chairlift at either the bottom lift station or top lift station.

After several incidents to its chairlifts, Winter Park Resort in Colorado does not allow them to be carried underneath its lifts.  Geary Storm riders are asked NOT to drop their seats, load, and carry them under the chairlift seat.  Instead, they must be loaded into the chair.

Watch the loading sequence in the above video to see the loading procedure for this model type.

A local skibiker tried to tell me that this was due to faulty loading procedures and maintenance at Winter Park Resort.  I called the head of the Colorado Tramway Board in October 2012.  He said that there is no mandatory minimum chair clearance at the loading area in Colorado.  Clearances are set individually for each chairlift with minimums and maximums set for each lift.

Winter Park Resort offers lessons but certification is not mandatory to board a chairlift.  Conversion kits and homemade are not allowed on the lifts at Winter Park.  Leashes are only required on designs that do not immediately fall over upon rider ejection.

Ski resorts that are considering allowing them for the first time should carefully review their certification policy.  New or novice riders may not truly understand how they turn and stop unless they've had a proper lesson.  This is especially true with freestyle peggers and homemade and/or conversion kit riders.

From 4 years of teaching peggers and skibobs through a resort ski school, I highly recommend ski resorts require certification before riders can board a chairlift.  If you would like more input on skibike chairlift safety, please contact Roy Meiworm at Durango Mountain Resort.  He'd love to talk to you.

The new freestyle (peg) type are a piece of equipment many ski resorts are unfamiliar with.  With proper risk management rules and regulations, they can add a safe new dimension to the guest experience.  Those who would otherwise stop skiing or snowboarding due to injury or disease can continue to enjoy the ski slopes.

© 2012 G. Kunkel and A Colorado Skibiker Goes Skibiking. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to G. Kunkel and A Colorado Skibiker Goes Skibiking with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.