The Ultimate Day Trip to Kimberley, BC

The Ultimate Day Trip to Kimberley, BC

The Ultimate Day Trip to Kimberley, BC Words and photos by Sam Egan Tucked into the eastern slope of the Purcell Mountains and less than half an hour from Cranbrook’s International Airport lays the sleepy Kootenay town of Kimberley, British Columbia. Formerly home to one of the world’s richest lead-zinc mines, Kimberley Alpine Resort now sits atop the site that originally attracted prospectors in the late 1800’s, and the former boom town has become a recreationist’s dream. While the natural assets of Kimberley may be no secret to neighboring Albertans in the winter months, it isn’t usually top of mind for mountain bike destinations. It isn’t on the way anywhere, and you need to go out of your way when travelling between larger destinations to reach it. In other words, you’ve got to be going there to get there. There’s a definite culture of mountain bikers readily apparent to even the least canny observer upon entering the downtown area, easily confused with the “townsite” that sits above the commercial centre. The locals are friendly and easy-going with information about trail options, and in the Bavarian-inspired, pedestrian-only “Platz”, you’ll find the local bike shop Kootenay Mountain Works and a full bevvy of shops and restaurants to fulfill your every adventure need. An authentic schnitzel house lays down the road from funky breakfast options like the Bean Tree Café, where you can fuel up and caffeinate before heading to one of  the many Kimberley Nature Park trailheads. The Jimmy Russell trailhead is a solid staging point for any length of ride in the park, and located just across the road from...
Beyond the Bike Park in Invermere, British Columbia

Beyond the Bike Park in Invermere, British Columbia

Beyond the Bike Park in Invermere, British Columbia Words and photos by Sam Egan Within the context of the exceptionally flexible seasonality of mountain biking, the chairlift-accessed bike park season is a short one at best. So, if all you know about mountain biking in Invermere is the Panorama Bike Park, you may be surprised at what the lower reaches of the steep peaks that enthrone the Columbia Valley have to offer, right up until winter arrives with its heavy blanket of snow. Whether your visit’s timing to the Invermere area just doesn’t line up with Panorama’s operating season, or you’re looking for something different in your riding experience than the Bike Park has to offer, you’ll find plenty of mileage to treat any bicycle you’ve brought along with you; downhill to cross country and plenty for your trail bike in-between. Dropping some significant vertical from the resort heading towards Invermere, you’ll pass a local classic single track route by the moniker of No Respect. Descriptors like “technical” and “old school” are apt for this unsanctioned trail, and some route-finding skills may be required to navigate the flagging tape. Not for the masses or the faint of heart, No Respect is also the starting link to the 2014 Single Track Six Trail which spans about 24km to Wilmer Lake, just outside the community of Wilmer to the northeast. Reports of this unsanctioned trail weren’t great, and having been duped by similar endeavors gone wrong on Hornby Island, the next destination was instead the more popular and well-rounded trail network of Pano’s foothills; just down Toby Creek road based out...
5 Tips for Your First Visit to Cranbrook, British Columbia

5 Tips for Your First Visit to Cranbrook, British Columbia

As far as British Columbia’s southeastern corner of the map is concerned, the region formally known as the Kootenays, Cranbrook is a comparatively bustling metropolis. Located less than an hour’s drive from the US border, the city is home to the Canadian Rockies International Airport and topographically, it rests in a sort of high country plateau between the Purcell and Rocky Mountain ranges that will feel familiar to visitors hailing from interior locales like Kamloops or Merritt. If you’re travelling in the Kootenays there’s a high likelihood that you’ll be passing through Cranbrook, and there are a handful of tips that will help you better explore the “mountains of opportunity” the community boasts as their city tagline.

Your First Visit to BC’s Newest Lift-Accessed Bike Park in Big White

Your First Visit to BC’s Newest Lift-Accessed Bike Park in Big White

With new trail networks popping up all over British Columbia these days and many of the hosting communities dubbing these fresh installments as Mountain Bike Parks, it’s not surprising that Big White’s entry to the market may have missed your radar. Shuttling is much less daunting a task to organize than the makings for a chairlift, and ambitious projects like Valemount’s new park are certainly deserving of the moniker. Biggie’s Bike Park is different, however, boasting lift-access to a professionally designed trail network, with a surprising amount of alpine appeal for an interior resort.

Accessing the Remote Reaches of BC’s Chilcotin Single-Track

Accessing the Remote Reaches of BC’s Chilcotin Single-Track

Words and Photos by Sam Egan British Columbia’s Chilcotin region is a wild pocket of mountains and forest, lakes and rivers, and some of the most remote single track in the province. Warner Lake was our trailhead destination, tucked into the South Chilcotin Mountains Provincial Park northwest of Gold Bridge, and a float plane chartered through Tyax Adventures was our shuttle vehicle for the adventure ahead. We arrived the night before our flight, just as the sun was setting behind the rolling hills of Tyaughton Lake, and snagged a few spots at the closest of the many Recreation Site camping areas en route to Tyax Lodge. With a 7:30am flight the following morning promising at least 50km of backcountry terrain to cover, we retreated to our tents early after briefly reviewing route options and gear choices for the following day. Catching the first flight of the day proved a bit awkward, with the lodge still sleeping there was no one to consult on protocol until we were already late for our ascent. Scrambling to disassemble wheels from frames and pack everything into the little plane, camera bags and phones were mostly locked out-of-reach in the scramble to get going. There wouldn’t be much of a view until we reached the alpine anyways, as shifting overnight winds had blown in smoke from forest fires elsewhere in the province.   After leaving the smoke behind in the valley below and double-checking ten wheels, five bikes and five packs were on the lakeshore, our pilot bid us farewell and expertly sailed into the horizon. One member of our party had completed the...
2017 BC Cup #2 and BC DH Championships at Sun Peaks Resort

2017 BC Cup #2 and BC DH Championships at Sun Peaks Resort

The BC DH Championships and second stop on the BC Cup circuit roared through Sun Peaks Resort this past weekend, bringing with it some of Canada’s fastest riders. With forest fires ablaze throughout the northwest, fortune smiled over the resort on race day with a bright blue sky, mostly clear of smoke. Consistently scorching temps made for a fast and loose track that had racers testing their traction at every turn, right out of the gates. North Vancouver’s Matt Beer reclaimed his title as fastest man on the mountain, and Provincial Champion, with a white-knuckled five minutes flat, nearly 14 seconds faster than anyone else in his class. Laurie Citynski went home with the Provincial title for her Elite Women category, and Junior Women champ Aleda Toronitz was the talk of this small town for recording the fastest female time of the day. The Sun Peaks DH course’s 600 metre vertical descent starts from the top of the Sunburst chairlift and then drops directly under it, into the rock-face-laden Insanity One, where countless riders have pushed their limits while racing the clock over the past couple decades. This is a trail with infinite opportunities for ingenuity, though, and line choices abound for those creative or courageous enough to try them. From Insanity One the course hangs a right onto the recently sculpted Sticky One, and, although the lower rock faces of the former began resembling rivers of fine silt as the weekend’s traffic wore on, the latter was where things got really loose and the dust barely settled, if at all, between racer intervals. When asked if anyone was...
Beginner’s Guide to Camping & Riding on Vedder Mountain at Cultus Lake; in Chilliwack, BC

Beginner’s Guide to Camping & Riding on Vedder Mountain at Cultus Lake; in Chilliwack, BC

  Words & Photos by Sam Egan Just half an hour south of Chilliwack, British Columbia, lays a popular mountain refuge for many a city-dweller, in the resort town of Cultus Lake. When first entering town it resembles a bit of a theme park, in fact there are numerous rollercoasters and waterslides lining the main drag as you drive through, but just beyond the small and kitschy business centre you’ll reach the boundary of Cultus Lake Provincial Park. The park encompasses the vast majority of the shoreline with lush forest and steep peaks, only interrupted for the various camp and picnic grounds along the eastern shore. Beyond the small number of lakefront homes on the western side stands what you’ve come to Cultus Lake in the first place for, the illustrious Vedder Mountain. A number of Provincial Park campground options are available along the eastern shore of Cultus Lake, each offering varying degrees of privacy and access to hiking trails, beaches and whatnot, and if you’re planning solely on shuttling or at least driving to the trailhead to ride, these might be a solid choice for a more scenic temporary homestead. Sunnyside Campground, however, sits just before the park boundary and, although it’s more RV and family-oriented than scenic, it does have ample beach access and there’s an excellent pedestrian shoreline trail that leads right to the trailhead at Vedder Mountain.   The summer days are long in these parts and, if you’ve arrived at your destination with enough daylight to burn, why not clock a shuttle lap or two before signing into your campground? You’ve reserved this site...
Ultimate Day Trip to the Interior’s Hidden Gem in Merritt, British Columbia

Ultimate Day Trip to the Interior’s Hidden Gem in Merritt, British Columbia

Words & Photos by Sam Egan When it comes to day trips within the province of British Columbia, for many of us it doesn’t get much more central than Merritt. Toted as the informal gateway to the Interior, it’s located at the confluence of both two major rivers and a number of major highway arteries, making it relatively easy to reach from wherever you’re hailing from. Although the main riding areas aren’t far off the highway, this small town is rich in history and the western-styled downtown offers big views of the surrounding hills, and anything you might need for your day on the trails. Visit the local Breathe bike shop to stock up on tubes or whatever else you might need to be self-sufficient for the day. While you’re downtown, drop into Brambles Bakery & Café for a healthy and homemade pre-ride snack, meal, or something to pack along. Pack ample rubber, water and calories, as the terrain can get rocky and the riding at Coutlee Plateau somewhat remote at times. Once you’re fully stocked, punch in the coordinates for the Coutlee Plateau trailhead parking lot, a roughly 10 minute drive out of downtown Merritt on the well-graded, 2WD accessed Midday Valley Road. Get your bearings with the trailhead map and check out the Cow Trail Classic loop on Trailforks to get an overall sense of where you’ll be going. It’s a big loop that covers the perimeter of the Coutlee Plateau trail network, and clocked in at 17.7km round trip for us. From the parking lot you’ll be more-or-less climbing a steady incline for the first half...
Five Things You Need to Know About Valemount’s New Bike Park

Five Things You Need to Know About Valemount’s New Bike Park

Rolling into Valemount, British Columbia, there’s simply no denying the natural beauty of this quant locale, reputed as gateway to the towering, imposing, legendary Mount Robson. The village spreads from the base of Fox Mountain, itself the meeting point of three major ranges, and just across Fox River lays the Valemount Mountain Bike Park, a community affair managed by the Valemount & Area Recreation Development Association.

5 Tips for Extending Your Riding Season into the Early Winter

5 Tips for Extending Your Riding Season into the Early Winter

With the bikes and gear available to today’s savvy rider, there’s really no reason you couldn’t ride year-round if you were really keen. For those of us not quite ready to commit to this extreme, whether that’s due to a competing winter pastime like skiing or snowboarding or just an overall distaste for this bitterest of Canadian seasons, there are a handful of tips that can help you keep riding right through the dreaded, cardio-sucking shoulder season, and into the depths of winter.

Riding the Thompson Okanagan in 3 Days; Vernon, Salmon Arm, & Kamloops

Riding the Thompson Okanagan in 3 Days; Vernon, Salmon Arm, & Kamloops

It’s no secret the Thompson Okanagan region of British Columbia is home to some world class mountain biking, and thanks to progressive trail and cycling associations these networks are becoming more and more accessible for those of us dropping into town for a day of riding. Though every community in the area hosts quality trail offerings uniquely its own, Vernon, Salmon Arm and Kamloops showcase significantly different terrain within a small area and conveniently link up with a scenic circle route winding through mostly secondary highway. You could sample the goods in each locale in an ambitious day trip but we opted for a slower pace, and stretched the three stops over a long weekend. Vernon, British Columbia The best thing about riding in the Okanagan is that you’re always close to a spectacularly large body of water, and Kalamalka is about as prolific a British Columbian lake as you could ask for. Aside from the progressive Silverstar Bike Park I’d never ridden in Vernon, but everyone was telling me they were doing great things on the Kalamalka Lake trails. A quick look at Trailforks for Kalamalka Lake shows no less than five official parking lots and trailheads, and enough mind blowing trail to keep you busy all summer. The Twin Bays parking lot seemed to be the primary staging spot with quick access to a number of beaches post-ride, and is located more or less at the bottom of the area’s exemplifying Lookout Trail which we wanted to finish off with. When pressing for trail suggestions a friend simply said, “I don’t think you can go wrong at...
The Ultimate Sun Peaks Bike Park Weekend

The Ultimate Sun Peaks Bike Park Weekend

Although Sun Peaks was an early player to the Bike Park and DH race game back in the late 1990’s, like so many smaller communities it can still be tough to make the most of a weekend of riding without some local knowledge. Consider this a blueprint to maximize riding time, for the ultimate Bike Park weekend.

Biking & Camping on the BC Gulf Islands; Salt Spring & Hornby

Biking & Camping on the BC Gulf Islands; Salt Spring & Hornby

Hornby Island is home to quality singletrack in a very relaxed and scenic setting. Salt Spring is on the opposite end of the spectrum and although relatively quiet and friendly, it’s the most populated island and has a lot more going on because of this. Both are incredible islands to visit, with very different personalities