Words and photos by Dylan Sherrad
It was a long and laid back beginning to the spring season in Kamloops. The typical ‘hit the ground running’ sensation the locals are familiar with was exchanged with a considerably mellower preload into things. That slower pace made for a nice match in the land of easy going, smooth rolling single track, while the locals leaned in to celebrate the coming of spring at The River Beaver Classic.
You could say the River Beaver Classic was a long time coming. But growth in the world renowned riding destination of Kamloops has always taken place in a relaxed and organic fashion. So for those of us who live here, the inception of a multi disciplinary festival and a bike culture celebration at the Kamloops Bike Ranch felt as if it was right on time.
In recent times, the Kamloops Bike Ranch has exploded in size and infrastructure. Under the watchful eyes of the Kamloops Performance Cycling Centre and the massive forearms of legendary builder, Brad Stuart, the Ranch has developed into a truly world class venue for riders of any discipline.
Having a world class facility like the Kamloops Bike Ranch as a local playground has instilled an easy-to-see sense of camaraderie and community amongst the riders who frequent the park. They take nothing for granted as bicycles bring them together. They don’t only take care of their jumps, they take care of each other, too. And their arms are always wide open to new or visiting riders.
Friday Night Lights
When the River Beaver Kicked off on Friday night, swarms of riders were welcomed under clear blue skies as the weekend of celebrations kicked off with a Dirt Jump Jam. The level of riding in Kamloops has always been high, and during this session it was glaringly obvious that the level has never been higher. Riders whipped and flicked their bikes around like season pros, in a session that also served as a Qualifier for the Saturday morning slopestyle.
Saturday Morning Slope
A grassroots slopestyle is a rare event, but the ‘Fist Full of Dollars’ trail at the Ranch proved to be the perfect location to make big dreams come true for young kids. And the slopestyle show was a wild one to say the least, as a lot of riders proved they are more than capable of competing at a professional level. It really wont be surprising to watch some of these kids make the step into competing on a global scale.
Time to Duel
After slopestyle passed, the colour of the morning faded into the noon as dark clouds threatened overhead and riders lined up for a good old fashioned dual slalom race. The rains never came, and racers rallied under dramatic skies. Blasting the track with everything they had, racers were neck and neck, calling on photo finishes in many heats. It felt as thought the excitement of the weekend was peaking, but then we heard the words booming from the speakers, “Beer gardens are open, pump track registration too!”
Pump up the Party
If you’ve ever had the fortune of attending, you’d agree that very few events in life can rival the enjoyment of a pump track party. As the day slowly rolled into night, with hecklers gathered all around, we pumped and jumped, bobbed and weaved, and blew a few turns together. When the racing is over, everybody wins the pump track. And in case anyone felt as though they didn’t perform to their expectations, we still had a beer garden beside the track.
Down The Hill
Sunday morning saw the race tape come. The final event of the River Beaver Classic would be a downhill race on ‘Pale Rider,’ a standout fast and fun track in the Ranch. And although a serious atmosphere is typical of a race day, the same laid back vibe of the entire weekend was still hanging in the dust of the River Beaver DH. Racer’s still lined up to test themselves against the clock, but a high level of tom-foolery was felt amongst the field as riders jokingly made their own categories and challenges within the event. And that couldn’t have been a more fitting finish to such a wonderful weekend.
Thanks For The Memories
The River Beaver Classic was a wonderful way to say thanks to our community, to welcome the blossoming of a brilliant new season, and to celebrate everything that riding in Kamloops has grown to be. But it also turned out to feel like a natural happening. Even if we hadn’t made such a big effort to organize such an event, it wouldn’t have been surprising to see a similar number of riders gathering in the ranch, riding together, and smiling all the same. Because that is simply the current state of the riding community in Kamloops.