8.04-28.04: Travels to the interior of British Columbia

Travels to the interior of British Columbia
August 4 to 28 2004
Rob's Video… 31.9Mb Right Click to "Save Target As…" Video Edited by Iggy.
Submitted by Rob, Edited by Iggy

The first time I went to British Columbia was June of 2003, and I thought that I was truly blazing a trail taking a plane cross continent to ride my bicycle. I spent 10 days on the coast, mainly in North Vancouver riding the Shore and a handful of days at Whistler. When I made my return trip there this past June I was determined to check out the rest of the Province, but unfortunately I blew my rear shock and was put on the sideline. Luckily the good people at Whistler sorted me out a bike so I could ride the park, so that dark cloud had a silver lining. But this trip was one ear marked for movement inland, so inland I went.

Travels to the interior of British Columbia
August 4 to 28 2004
Rob's Video… 31.9Mb Right Click to "Save Target As…" Video Edited by Iggy.
Submitted by Rob, Edited by Iggy

The first time I went to British Columbia was June of 2003, and I thought that I was truly blazing a trail taking a plane cross continent to ride my bicycle. I spent 10 days on the coast, mainly in North Vancouver riding the Shore and a handful of days at Whistler. When I made my return trip there this past June I was determined to check out the rest of the Province, but unfortunately I blew my rear shock and was put on the sideline. Luckily the good people at Whistler sorted me out a bike so I could ride the park, so that dark cloud had a silver lining. But this trip was one ear marked for movement inland, so inland I went.
British Columbia is a very geographically diverse place. The coast is littered with everything from lush rainforest to massive jagged peaks. The topography changes as you move east to a semi-arid climate with smaller mountains and loose dusty terrain. Before you reach the Rockies that run along the border of BC and Alberta, the Kouteney Region offers beautiful rolling green mountains with scenic glacier fed lakes. Approaching the Rockies the BC Mountains get bigger and bigger rivaling the Coastal Mountains of Whistler and Blackcomb.
My journey began at 5 am August 5th picking up Russ at his Brownstone. We loaded in the truck, said goodbye to Iggy and picked up my friend Troy who drove us to JFK. Traveling with 3 bikes and 2 huge bags is a serious pain in the ass. It took forever to get checked in and even though we were two hours early our bikes didn't get on the plane with us so we had to kill a half a day in Seattle waiting for them to arrive. We got our bikes and b-lined it to Whistler. After arriving at the Ticket 2 Ride Chalet in Creekside I felt New York drift away and I began to embrace my new surroundings. Mountains, clean air and riders abounded.

Whistler, BC
Taking Russ to Whistler brought me back to my first time there. I didn't know a bike park like that existed. It's like the Disney World for freeriding. I was stoked to be there, but it was really cool showing a good friend around the park who's never been. Russ was so happy; he couldn't stop smiling or taking pictures. I hope that next year more BBR guys come out West.

The park, of course was awesome. Thanks again to Tom Pro and the whole Whistler staff for taking such good care of us. Of all the mountains I've been to none have been as professional and dedicated as the crew at Whistler. The park has changed dramatically since I've been there in June and I was very impressed with the improvements. The biker cross course was revamped with bigger tabletop jumps and extremely challenging step-ups, step-downs, and rhythm sections. The area surrounding the 4 cross is known as the Bone Yard now and has some of the sickest stunts I've ever seen. Much of the work was done for the Krankworks and has since been tweaked to be as smooth and flowey as the rest of the park. For instance the step-up to teeter to drop, "Tower of Power," had its height reduced considerably after Pro Rider consensus that it was too dangerous at its current position. The Garbanzo Chair's trails have been groomed considerably and new trail off shoots are beginning to trickle their way down the mountain. It's nice to see that Whistler is interested in improving its already great park.

North Vancouver, BC
After a few action packed days at Whistler Russ and I headed down to North Vancouver to say what's up to our bro's at Banshee Bikes and check the North Shore. It was raining pretty hard that morning and honestly I didn't even want to ride, but Russ had never been and he was leaving the next day so we had to. We met DH from Banshee at 8am for a lift up Seymour Mountain. Thanks again to DH and Banshee for all their help and support. I can't imagine a bike company that's as down as they are and makes such hot product.
We headed up the mountain I was getting sketched about riding all that wood in the wet. DH laid it on the line and said that that's the riding conditions they ride in every winter and it's totally cool. Cool. So we head down CBC, and that trail is beginning to be as familiar to me as the Fun Run at Plattekill. Super fun, flowy lines with sturdy woodwork that's been worked in to have tread even in the pouring rain. It was kind of a surreal experience when every time we took off our helmets all this steam poured off of us like we were on fire. It was a really beautiful experience to ride Seymour in the rain.
Finishing off with Team Pangor to Empress, we were definitely worked by the time we got down. Between riding techy stuff in the wet and pushing up the hill to session different spots, I was beat. We spent the rest of the day packing up Russ's bike and checking out the legendary Cove shop to pick up some treats for the bro's back home. It was a nice day in North Vancouver even in the pouring rain.

Kamloops, BC
After a tearful goodbye, Russ headed back home and I traveled on to Kamloops. I went with a friend from Vancouver who wanted to go visit some of her friends there. I headed straight to the Full Boar Bike Shop and said what's up to Trevor, Carle and Kurt. It turns a full on crew was going to shuttle Harper later in the day, so I sessioned Rose Hill with my bro's Kevin and Alex. It was super fun to just bomb Rose Hill with guys who knew it well and weren't going to stop until we reached the bottom. Ended up doing way more stuff than I had last time just because we weren’t stopping and looking and analyzing, just straight crushing. No time to think, just pin.
Later that evening we met up with another 15 or so rider to kill Harper. It's a real rush to ride with that many sick riders and I definitely ended up riding way faster and trying more challenging stunts because I was in a train and there was no option to stop. Harper is still one of the illest places I've ever ridden and the riders in that area fully take advantage of having it in their back yards. Thanks again to Chuck from Kamloops Bike Camp, Trevor and the crew at Full Boar and all my bro's in Kamloops. See you next summer!

Sun Peaks, BC
The last time I was in Kamloops, I really wanted to see the nearby resort Sun Peaks but had no time to check it out. Luckily this time I was blessed with a trip to this progressive resort. I was given a warm welcome by Jordan Petrovich of the resort, and in no time I was up the lift checking out some of the sickest downhill I've even done. The first run I did was a trail called Steam Shovel. An A-line esque jump trail, Steam Shovel allows for big airs with transitions that go on for days. Steam Shovel drops into the 4 cross course, home to the Joyride Competition won by Cedric Gracia in July of this year. Next on the agenda was Insanity 1, which was used as the Canada Cup Downhill track in August. Insanity 1 has some impossibly steep roll downs, massive drops and a section that seriously is the most insane thing I've every seen on a race course. It was a steep shoot easily 35 feet long with an exposed root system and much of it was at a 90 degree angle. That being hard enough, through in the fact that you have to transfer lines at least 3 times down the slope and a miniscule run out and you have a recipe for disaster. I was riding with Pro Downhiller TJ Cowern of Poison Spider in Moab, Utah and even this guy said he wasn't into it.
To get some flow back into our game TJ, Jordan and I checked out Sugar. One of the longest freeride trails I've ever ridden at a resort, Sugar was a great combination of wooden stunts, jumps, and small but techy downhill sections. It was nice to just session different stunts and see Jordan who knew the place like the back of his hand, clean everything like the dishes. The riding at Sun Peaks is just so fast and flowey that I had to stay for 2 days. It really helped my high speed control, because so much of it is wide open bombing on freshly groomed single track. I came back home with way more confidence in fast stuff and I think much of that is attributed to my stay at Sun Peaks. I highly recommend a trip to Sun Peaks if you're going to be in BC. Whistler and the North Shore are great places, but diversity is key.

Nelson, BC
After two sic days in Sun Peaks I moved onto the Kootenay Region with my first stop being in Nakusp to check out the hot springs. I can't tell you how nice it was to chill out in a natural hot spring after a week of ill riding. The next morning I woke up and headed to Nelson, home of Robbie Bourdon, Freeride Entertainment and some of the best freeride trails on the planet. Nelsen is a small town with kind of a granola hippy feel to it. Nelson definitely produces the killer chronic and the locals enjoy the homegrown harvest. They also enjoy the vast trail network of woodwork, natural rock formations with sicter drops and beautifully groomed singletrack. The two shops in town are the Sacred Ride and Garrity's. I hooked up with Derek Chalmers of Garrity's for a couple rides. Derek is on the Canadian National Team and it was super cool of he and his bro's to take me out and show me around. The first shuttle we did was on a trail called Bedframe. It started with super fast tree dodging singletrack laden with nice wooden ladder bridge drops complete with beautiful transitions. As we approached the middle of the trail, more log rides popped up, along with huge A-frames and massive teeters. The lower portion became steeper and steeper with long rock chutes that G-out to transition. Really fun to ride with guys from Garrity's who built the trail and clean it from top to bottom.
The next day started with a shuttle to the top of Sictum Creek trail where the infamous Hamster Wheel of Kranked 3 resides. Did 2 shuttles of these sic trails with a couple of locals and was really into the fun stunts and super steep loose section at the top. The dust was so insane that you had to wait a full 5 minutes between riders or all you'd see is a cloud of smoke. The impossibility of braking firmly on the loose stuff only added to the madness. The highlight of the day for me was definitely watching my friend John session the 4 inch sapling turned ladder dubbed, "Rainbow Bridge." The amount of bike control to ride this wobbling bent over tree whose diameter was hardly more than a bike tire is truly amazing.
My last night in Nelson was spent at the Collective Premier at the Flying Squirrel Bar. It was a really chill spot and everyone was super stoked on watching one of the most beautifully filmed mountain bike movies to date. Hung out with Robbie Bourdon and got way to drunk on $2.00 Gin and Tonics. Mayhem. Robbie Bourdon parties like a rock star and it was cool just to be along for the ride. Thanks to Derek and everyone at Garrity's, Robbie Bourdon and all the locals that hooked me up with shuttles.

Mount Schweitzer, Idaho
After three days of rocking out in Nelson, I hooked back up with TJ and his buddy Greg Smith to ride the NORBA course at Mt Schweitzer, Idaho. For some reason I always thought of Idaho as being flat, but I couldn't have been more wrong when I saw the towering mountains. When we got off the lift I thought I was on Mars, with every foot step creating a dust explosion. Mt Schweitzer is a mountain that is all about speed. Blazing fast, dusty wide open trails laced with loose rocks was the order of the day. Riding the NORBA course was especially fun to ride with TJ and Greg because they have both raced on it and knew the lines. Following TJ off of the, "Alter," was one of the scariest moments of my life. The ground was nothing but sharp pointy rocks and the line was tight. I rode his back tire with the words, "PIN IT," ringing in my ears and flowed through it. I realized that day how important it is to ride with people above your skill level who can encourage you to break mental barriers of fear.
We rode until dusk and I just didn't want to leave. Schweitzer had that big mountain feeling, with long ripping descents that left arms useless and legs numb. Fast with rocks that made a quick stop at high speed impossible, I believe Schweitzer is a must ride and is a permanent fixture on the NORBA circuit. The four cross course is as challenging as any of the other national courses with an interesting rock garden gap and sic big gaps. I could only hit the first two by riding into it at full speed from a good 50 feet before the starting gate. By riding these national courses I have found immense respect for the riders who go race these extremely challenging venues. Thank you Schweitzer Mountain for the opportunity to come and ride this beautiful mountain, and also thanks to TJ and Greg for showing me how it's ridden.

Mount Fernie – Fernie, BC
Schweitzer's trails were perfect training for my next adventure of racing the Canada Cup at Mount Fernie. I got there just a day before the race so I knew that it would be difficult to compete with people who've been riding it all week long. I rode with Shaums March of Norco quite a bit and that made a real difference in how I rode the course. He's the type of guy who will ride behind you and tell you everything you're doing wrong and how to correct it. If you ever have a chance to ride with Shaums or go to one of his bike camps, it's well worth it.
Fernie is another big mountain, and is extremely diverse. It has a lot of fast wide open straight-aways, big burms and jumps, but also has a huge section of old school switchback singletrack and many massive stunts. I couldn't get enough of the wall ride to drop and the gigantic wooden roller section. After tasting a bit of the freeride on the mountain I settled in to learn the race course.
The course was like none other I've ever seen. It was total motocross- fast, smooth and wide open with enough jumps to keep the crowd screaming you the whole way down the hill. It was one of the most beautiful experiences of my life coming out of the woods at top speed to a crowd urging you to let off the brakes and hit the hip like a rock star. Throwing all race technique to the side, I manueled the bowl into it and threw up the flatest table I could muster off the kicker. The crowd erupted and I felt like I could do anything.
The course started with a nice steep rocky roll down into a burm that didn't let up the whole way down the hill. I tried to stay off my brakes as much as possible, but the speed I was reaching was way out of my comfort zone. It was the type of speed that made me glad I was fully encapsulated in my Dianese suit and 9.5 inches of rear travel in case something went wrong. The course ended with a sick natural rhythm section that I just let the bike dance through and a set of huge doubles. The funny thing about the doubles were that on the practice days they were closed off and I never saw them much less rode them, so it was kind of a shock to be cooking into the finish line and all of a sudden two huge mounds of dirt pop up. I ended up over shooting and crossing the finish line thanking God I didn't eat it.
Overall the Fernie Canada Cup was a great experience. Well organized with really good prizes made this race one of the best of my life. I highly recommend racing on a national level like this because the talent of other riders will only serve as templates for you and push you to achieve all you can. Thanks again to Mount Fernie for putting on such a wonderful race, all the race organizers of the Canada Cup and all the racers for putting their necks on the line.

Panorama, BC
Invited to ride Panorama by race official named Mylene, I headed there after race day to be pleasantly surprised to find another mountain chock full of freeride madness. I picked her and her boyfriend Jonathan up in my Chevy and we headed up the mountain. Mylene works at the Ski Canada shop and Jonathan is the main trail builder of the mountain and runs the Panorama branch of Invermere Cycles. I couldn't have asked for better tour guides. Some of the coolest people I've ever met, Jonathan and Mylene are Quebec transplants that are totally doing there thing on the West Coast. They showed me trail after trail of local's only stuff then put me up for two nights in there home. I really appreciate all they did for me and remind me of what a beautiful culture we're all apart of.
So, first off Panorama is an Intrawest owned resort, like Mountain Creek and Whistler so you know they care about their trails. Jonathan has been working hard to maintain the vast network of existing trails, build them up with high grade stunts, and create new trails on this special mountain. I say special because it's hard to find a mountain that has really good stunts, really steep loose sections, and fast wide open stuff that has jumps built into it. This place is probably what Whistler was like 10 years ago. With a crew of 4 full timers next year, I'm sure this place will blossom under his command.
My favorite part of riding this mountain was the flowy wall rides with built in kickers and endless drop offs, both man made and natural. The local's only trail was filled with natural rock drops with long dirt transitions that allowed for throwing in a nice tweak for good measure. There was plenty of skill building opportunity with dirt jumps and 7 progressively big ladder drops with the largest measuring well over 12 feet. Panorama is a great place to have fun and build your skill set.

Mount Swansea – Invermere, BC
The local mountain of Invermere is Mount Swansea. It was a hot day at 9am and I knew it was going to be a rough one, especially pedaling a big bike in a full armor suit all day long. Mylene, Jonathan and I took turns shuttling up the mountain with my truck and got in at least 5 runs each. Jonathan took me out first and showed me a few road gaps, some beautiful ladder work to tranny and the sickest kicker to wall ride I've ever done. I had to follow him in like 3 times before I even tried it. It was so nice the first time I hipped the bike and into the transition. It was spiritual bliss, finally getting something I wanted for so long.
My runs with Mylene were super fun too. She took me on some old school fast single track with plenty of wood work on it. A couple of local grommets hopped in our ride and assured me at every drop or jump that they've done it, but just weren't feeling it there and then. It made me feel like a kid again ridding my bike in Upstate New York with my friends, talking about the next trick you were going to pull or jump you were going to try.
Mt Swansea is one of the best shuttle able mountains in BC. Full of stunts for all skill levels, Mt Swansea is best accessible by hooking up with some locals at the Invermere Cycles shop. Great people, great riding.

Mount Seven, Golden BC
Mount Seven is the Darth Vader of British Columbia Mountains. Its mere mention commands respect and fear. Over eight thousand feet high, Mount Seven is the home to the Psychosis Seven Race. I rode the mountain with 2 locals, Terry and John whose day jobs were fighting wild forest fires for the government. There was fear in the air as we shuttled the mountain, and the usual shuttle chit chat was kept to directions only. The tension grew as we climbed higher and higher until we reached the wind whipped peak. Totally surreal. It felt like Armageddon was moments away. We strapped on our gear and headed to the start of the race track. The best time ever clocked in this race is over 18 minutes long.
A brutal course starting with an endless field of loose scree that is used as a hand gliding launch, Mount Seven doesn't let up for an instant. The trail turns from scree to wooded singletrack ala Star Wars speeder bike speed then into impossibly loose steep conditions. If you gain too much speed in a steep section abandon all hope, you're going down. The ground is so loose that the harder you brake the less control you have. After years of steep, loose terrain you're given a respite from the brakes to me faced with 3 massive rock drops. The yards of broken orange road fencing are silent reminders of all the people and bikes this mountain claims on race day. Last year there was actually a fatality in the race. I decided to give'er and go for the larger of the 3 drops. My rebound must have been set a hare to fast, because it took all I had to hold the landing after a solid buck. The drop was only 7 or 8 feet, but the rocky landing made it treacherous.
After a bit more fast wooded singe track, the trail opens up into a sic burmed section that you can mock through. I followed the lead local, Jeff, into a step up to flat then sizeable gap. No time to think just do as he had just done. I really like that sort of riding. It allows you to sort of ghost into their abilities and trail knowledge by simply copying everything they do.
Mount Seven is definitely an expert only mountain that I'm eager to get back to. The sheer time riding downhill is insane, compounded with the fact that most of it is loose extremely steep terrain. There are several companies that offer heli-drops to surrounding mountains, but unfortunately all helicopters were fighting fires when I was in the area. Keep your eyes peeled for the Psychosis 7 Race; it's definitely one to watch for.

William's Lake, BC
The final stop on my road trip through the Interior took me north to the, "Puddle," William's Lake. I broke up the 14 hour drive from Golden to William's Lake by stopping back at Kamloops and cleaning a few more jumps that I hadn't had the courage for before. It was really nice revisiting Kamloops after all the riding I'd done over the past 2 weeks and see how I progressed. It definitely builds skills to ride diverse terrain.
My first stop in town was Red Shreds, the best shop in town and one of the best I've ever been in period. I was greeted by a host of local rock star riders / trail builders who were super stoked to have someone from New York check out there scene. Mitch and James made me feel totally at home and actually stopped working to shuttle me up the in town trail they'd built. Mitch's Brew is one of the sickest trails I've ever been on. The crazy thing is the elevation hardly changes, but the trail is built with so much flow that a full on downhill bike easily navigates it. The trail starts with a massive 14 footer to a steep bike length transition that my tour guide James pounded with ease. A bit later an insane road gapped was behind the back hand slapped by James. Sick. These guys know how to throw down.
Later that day I met up with fellow pharmacist Bryon, for a quick shuttle run. Mitch shuttled us out to another local trail, Godspeed. It was so fast and flowy that I just didn't want it to end. Bryon knew the trail well and I did my best to follow. There were a few massive gaps and step ups possible only with incredible amount of speed. Needless to say, there was a lot of pushing my bike back up to get proper speed for the jumps. This is the stuff that made me want to marry a local just to stay.
The next day I hooked up with a 5 man group from Whistler to do shuttle runs with To the Top Freeride. An old Suburban, driven by the cutest shuttle I've ever seen, was our ride to the top. We did 5 runs, all at about 45 minutes each, and really pushed each other to try all the features. No one wanted to mess with the step up hip to wood to transition, though. Plenty of really do able stunts made these trails a blast from start to finish. The consensus at the end day among the group was that William's Lake riders like to go fast and go big, in that order. It was really nice to see how they've sculpted the landscape into a wonderland of freeride trails.
Thanks again to Mitch, James and Bryon of Red Shreds and To the Top Freeride. It was some of the most interesting riding I've ever done and I'll see you all next summer for sure.

Final Thoughts
Traveling alone can be an extremely lonely and wonderful experience at the same time. I met so many people and had so many experiences that I may not have had if I was traveling in a big group. At times it was tough; I missed riding with my bro's from BBR and at times said out loud, "The fellas would really appreciate this." I tried to take as many pictures and video as possible to show everyone at home what's out there and what the possibilities are. I would love to head out next summer with anyone who's open to new riding experiences and wants to see other places. I hope this winter is a time of planning, and we as a group go out and see the world.