As a black diamond run, the newly redesigned section of Organ Donor trail at Hartland-Mount Work mountain biking park is not for everyone.
But the lineups of bikers at the top of Organ Donor show just how popular the trail is, and how badly needed it is at Mount Work, says Alon Soraya, vice-president of the South Island Mountain Biking Society. (And yes, the mountain bike trails have extreme names, ranging from off-colour humour, such as Birth Control, Lumpy Pants and Who’s Your Daddy, to the subtle, such as Small Craft Warning and Bubble Wrap.)
“Now that it’s open, everyone is enjoying it and sharing that stoke around the community, they are so happy to have this kind of trail in our community,” Soraya said.
What’s significant about Organ Donor, which has long existed but has had a significant reroute, with a new design, is that this style of flowy trail with built-up jump-style features has not been allowed in Mount Work park until now. In the past, there were legal issues that limited the building of ‘features’ such as jumps and drops, not just in Greater Victoria but across B.C. However, in the past decade trail building elsewhere has undergone a boom and has put places such as Cumberland on the map with Whistler as one of the fastest-growing mountain biking destinations.
Now the stewards who oversee trail building at Mount Work are working to catch up. In the spring, the South Island Mountain Biking Society signed a licence agreement with the CRD, the result of several years of negotiations between CRD staff and a number of the society’s board directors.
“It supports us to do work like this and continue improving the park,” Soraya said.
There is a long history of trail building including recent work, however, it’s mostly unsanctioned, and the CRD will often step in to close trails.
Once South Island Mountain Biking Society had permission this summer, longtime volunteer and local mountain biker Jesse Jubinville couldn’t wait to build.
The work started in September with more than 1,000 volunteer hours in total and officially opened on Jan. 17.
“Hartland for years hasn’t had a progressive-style trail and has been left behind in comparison to other [parks] which have flowy, fun trails with drops and jumps. When I set out to build something, I wanted something for the community that all levels of riders can have fun on,” Jubinville said.
So while the trail is fast, it is a bit wider than the usual single track, and it covers the craggy roots and rocks that make Hartland “technical” and difficult, but fun. It also has opportunities to slow down where other black diamond trails don’t. There are also “rollable” options next to the bigger jumps, gaps and drops, so moms and dads can go easy while the kids go big.
One of the challenges of building was the outpouring of volunteer support and managing everyone in a COVID-19 safe way, Soraya said.
This spring the CRD is expected to produce a draft management plan for Mount Work that the society hopes will include an expansion of the bike trail boundaries. That could open the door to build more trails, or even sanction some trails that are lesser-known and go back to the guerilla trail building days of the 1990s, but were marked outside the boundary when CRD implemented a management plan.