For fifteen years, Highland has been dedicated to fostering a bike community that welcomes everyone, from first-time riders to world-class athletes. This year we’re celebrating our Highland Family with a six-part video series exploring what inspires so many of us to call Highland home.
When you think of the “Highland Family,” who do you think of? The kids you see popping wheelies in the backyard? The folks you hang out with in the parking lot every weekend? That guy you met in the lift line by chance and now look forward to riding with every year? Maybe you think of the friend who towed you off Tombstone for the first time, or the woman who always pushes you to pedal harder during Wednesduro, or the bartender who remembers your name season after season. For Highland’s staff, it’s all of those and more.
As Patrol Director Nick Guiod says, Highland is “the raddest place on earth with the raddest people on earth.” When Nick was growing up, Highland wasn’t just a place where he rode bikes: it was a group of people who shared his love of riding and represented a second home for him. The stoke still hasn’t faded: as an adult he made the conscious decision to move up from Massachusetts with his wife and dogs and build a life here. If you’ve ridden at Highland in the last five years, odds are you’ve run across Nick. The energy and care he brings to the Highland Family year after year is unmatched.
Nick and the megaphone in 2015. They’ve been inseparable ever since.
For Northfield local Josh Moreau, Highland was home long before it became the mountain biking mecca it’s known as today. His grandparents owned and operated the mountain as Highlands Ski Area in the nineteen-sixties: they actually built the main lodge that now houses the pub, bike shop, and training department. Josh grew up with Highlands in his backyard. It’s where he learned to ski, and helped develop his passion for the outdoors. The mountain offered night skiing, and whenever he was driving up the hill after school and saw the slopes lit up and the lift running, he says, “it was like Christmas.”
From the vintage Highland Family photo album
The Highlands Ski Area changed ownership several times and eventually closed, laying dormant for several years before Mark Hayes bought the property with a grand vision of Highland Mountain Bike Park percolating in his mind. By then Josh had graduated and moved west to Colorado, but when he received a call from New Hampshire about Mark’s plan for Highland’s future, he knew this was something he wanted to be a part of. Fifteen years ago he returned to Northfield, and he’s been here ever since.
Geoff, Becky, Josh, and Leila at the 2019 S’Ender Bash
What keeps Josh coming back to Highland year after year is not just the riding. For him, it’s the people he’s met and the friendships he’s built here. In short: the Highland Family. “I’ve met people from all over the world,” he says, citing friends as far away as Switzerland. When they visit Highland he’s quick to provide hospitality, and when Josh is the one traveling there’s always someone eager to return the favor.
In perhaps one of its greatest success stories, the Highland Family led Cari Bernash directly to her actual family. Like Josh, Cari grew up in Northfield, but she didn’t start working at Highland until 2013 when she joined the team as the retail supervisor. That year she befriended a guy who worked in the bike shop and the rest, as they say, is history.
In 2018 Cari and Greg got married, and since then their shared loved of riding has brought them on adventures all over the country. Soon they’ll embark on a new adventure, as they prepare to welcome their first child into the Highland Family. “I’m extremely grateful that Mark chose our little mountain in our little town,” Cari says. “Because all of our kids can now grow up riding here as part of this community.”
The Highland Family celebrates Cari and Greg’s wedding in 2018. (Photo from Hinesight Imagery)
When asked what the Highland Family means to him, Operations Director Joe Kidder responds: “I think it means everything.” And that pretty much sums it up. For the staff at Highland, the idea of the “Highland Family” has never simply referred to the employees of a small business. It’s something much bigger, encompassing an entire community of coworkers, friends, partners, siblings, children, and extended connections formed through a shared passion for not only this sport, but this place. What’s truly remarkable about the Highland Family is how far it now reaches: a diverse network of people spanning the globe who were brought together by a downhill mountain bike park in small-town New Hampshire.
However you find your way into the Highland Family, there is a place for you here. #HighlandIsHome