Bike parks are a growing trend, especially with ski resorts. Utilizing facilities during warm months for a bike park has turned out to be a win-win situation for the parks, and those who crave the downhill excitement. Two Ski Resorts that have taken advantage of this trend are Bryce Resort located in the Shenandoah Valley, just a short distance from Mount Jackson and Massanutten Resort 15 miles from Harrisonburg, VA.
I traveled to Bryce Resort to find out what it’s like to be a member of their Bike patrol. Glenn Jackson, the Patrol Director, who also actively patrols the mountain, was my contact and subject of my interview. When I arrived I was greeted by Glenn and fellow Bike Patroller, Rodney Torp. Glenn has been with Bryce for 13 years and Rodney, 30 years. These two veterans welcomed me in and Glenn gave me the run down and insight into the mind of a bike patroller.
Bryce Resort | Glen Jackson
Sirens sounding, kicking down doors leading to blazing infernos and carrying people to safety was Glenn Jackson’s life as a firefighter for many years. Today, along with 25 other bike patrollers, Glen is using his safety training and experience on the mountain at Bryce Bike Park as the Patrol Director. Don’t let the tough guy exterior fool you though, where many bike patrols can be strict and enforce rules with an iron fist, this Patrol Director at Bryce is all about helping you safely enjoy your time in the park.
How old are you and what did you do before you joined the bike patrol?
I’m 52 years old and a retired firefighter. I was with the Fairfax County Fire Department for 30 years prior to coming on full time with the patrol. When I first came onboard there wasn’t a bike park. I was with ski patrol. Five years ago Bryce Resort invested into this Mountain Bike Park. During the cold months, I’m ski patrol and when it gets warm, we change the lifts to accommodate the bikes and patrol the mountain as bike patrol.
“When I first came, as a veteran firefighter I was impressed with the level of professionalism and depth of training I received at Bryce Resort.”
How was the transition from Ski Patrol to Ski & Bike Patrol?
I wasn’t a mountain biker until five years ago when we started developing the mountain bike park. Since then I’ve come to love mountain biking. During the development of the bike park Bryce Resort included me throughout the entire process. That made it a lot easier for me. I had input into the park safety measures. The way our park is designed allows us access in and out throughout the park to easily respond to injured bikers.
What are you currently riding, and what does the park offer visitors who want to rent a bike?
I ride a Trek Remedy 9 RSL. I gave my old bike (Trek Remedy) to Cory, my 13 years old son who has become an advanced rider. He’s actually getting ready to purchase a new Trek Slash 9.8 when the 2018 bikes come out. As for the park, they are a Trek authorized dealer and rent the Trek Sessions, Trek Slash and the Trek Daytona.
What does a typical day on patrol look like?
We get on the trails everyday and check for debris and obstructions. We also check all the wooden structures to ensure they are tight and safe. If there are new riders in the park we like to spend a little time helping them get familiar with the trails. If someone is being reckless or failing to follow park rules, we’ll stop them and re-educate them on safe riding practices. (Rodney Torp added) We don’t want people to see us as mean or even the authority. We want visitors to know we are concerned for their well being. We are here to help them have fun. We’d rather have them on the mountain than in the first aid room.
What’s the biggest difference between Skiers and Bikers?
Well, bikers have a tendency to leak a lot more (bleed). But they’ll also walk themselves off the mountain (Rodney: we call them the walking wounded). When skiers get injured, they are more likely to stay put on the mountain waiting for help.
What frustrates you the most?
I get frustrated when riders don’t use good sense. There’s a gamut of injuries we run into everyday. We treat several hundred abrasions and small wounds every season. Most could be prevented by wearing the proper protection and being smart.
What do you like most about being on bike patrol?
My two favorite things about the job are; the people I work with and getting to meet and know park visitors. One of the things I liked about Bryce from the get-go, was they’re like a big family. I’m especially close with the patrol team.
You know, a lot of time when people come to a park like this, they look at the patrol as though we are police, and we’re not. We care about the people who visit the park, just like we care about each other. We want them to feel safe and see us as approachable.
What do you want to say to people preparing to visit the bike park?
Prepare to have fun, but be safe.