The Ultimate Road Trip has once again set sail. This year’s first leg has the crew touring to Panorama, Kicking Horse and Silver Star located in the interior of British Columbia, Canada. With a mixed bag of light rain and sunshine in the forecast, it looks like our lucky winners will get to experience the Bike Parks of BC in all their finest glory. The Ultimate Road Trips aims to showcase BC’s best lift access trails and the natural beauty of the province.
Day One: Intro’s and Invermere
World Masters Champ Shaums March of Mad March Racing picked up the crew at the Kelowna airport. First to arrive was Jeff who flew in from Calgary and met his good buddy and contest winner Dave. Both currently live and teach in Whitehorse. Next to arrive were the other winners Wendy and her riding partner Brenda, who both live on Vancouver Island. After some quick intros and one lost bag we loaded the official road trip van and headed for Panorama just outside Invermere, BC.
A few hours into the drive, we all felt pretty good about the crew. By the sounds of the conversations, we had a down to earth and competent group of riders. Most importantly the crew was ready to ride. But today was just a travel day so we decided to let some energy out at the Enchanted Forest near 3 Valley Gap along side Highway 1.
The Enchanted Forest is one of those places you drive by but never take the time stop and see what its all about. Today was a perfect opportunity to check it out. We had a great time exploring the childhood nursery rhyme characters and tales. Bonds were already beginning between the crew as we all shared some laughs at each other’s expense.
After a few more hours of driving we arrived in Panorama. It was already dark and everyone was spent from a long day of travel. The winners headed off to bed while Shaums, coach Jonathon and photographer Ian Millar unloaded the van in preparation for the next day.
Day 2: New Skills, New Mountain – Panorama
After a night of lightening and rain, the skies cleared. The crisp mountain air was fresh and cool. From a riders point of view conditions were perfect. After some breakfast, we started off with a lap on ‘Look Out’ (a Blue run) followed by some riding fundamentals. Coach Shaums went through some basic bike control techniques, demonstrating how to get the most of the Hayes Stroker brakes as well as feeling out the Marin Quakes suspension. The entire crew is riding Quakes and the folks are loving them, already offering to buy them after the trip! It wasn’t long before they began to apply the new techniques to the trails.
We caught up with Haley Wilson from the resort and enjoyed a few laps with her. She even pushed her own limits riding runs she had yet to shred. Panorama offers a good range of terrain to all levels of riders. The key here was ‘all levels’. The resort has a strong focus on family. Not only do they have beginner trails but they also have waters slides, hiking and whole bunch of other stuff to keep the entire family entertained.
Once the crew got there legs going it was not long before the Black Diamond runs were being called out. Brenda demanded flow with every lap, it was obvious to everyone from the start that she was here to ride. Her excitement got the best of her as she attempted to board a wooden bridge, unfortunately she missed judged her speed and lost her balance. When she couldn’t unclip, she proceeded with a comical dive into the bush.
After a hard day riding we met up with the Ride Guide television crew, who would also be following us on the journey. We met up for a post game brew at the T-Bar and later ventured on to Chopper’s Landing for dinner. The team cut loose over some delicious foods, drinks and amusing conversation. Chopper’s is a Heli-Ski operation in the winter and has the best grub in the valley as well one of the best places to watch the weather travel across the mountains.
Day 3 – 5: Kicking the Horse
After another delicious view and breakfast at Picnic Deli, (breakfast wraps highly recommended) we packed the Mad March Racing Van and set our sights and minds on Golden, BC. It’s close to a 2hour drive to the breath taking Kicking Horse Mountain Resort. If you not familiar with Kicking Horse you need to know that the Horse is some serious mountain biking. 4000 feet of vertical every run with some of the best true downhill action you can get from lift access riding.
In a total fluke, lightening had hit the gondola the previous night. When we showed up the lift was shut down for the day. They had to check every fuse before they could open the chair up again. So the Horse’s PR rep Jordan Petrovics came up big and put the Ultimate- in the Ultimate Road Trip. He granted us access to the mountain roads so we could just drive up Shaums’ van and shuttle the runs. Two runs later we were cracking beers and heading for a sunset hot tub.
Brenda and Wendy really got into a groove the next day. After a quick visit to Boo the Grizzly (Boo is a real grizzly who lives on Kicking Horse) the two-island girl’s technical DH styles surfaced again. Jeff and Dave were over heard on more than few occasions saying, “best runs ever”. It was echoed through the entire group from Shaums to the photographer to the guests. Kicking Horse filled a need that you just can’t get anywhere else. After everyone over extended their endurance the hot tubs were calling again, a few brews later a wild night broke out at the pub.
Must mentions for Kicking Horse include the accommodations, feather mattresses in both the Vagabond Lodge and Copper Horse. TSN former broadcaster Ken Chilibeck is the pension owner at the Vagabond. Ken and his wife Lori have decorated this place in a fun and furry way. If you’re heading to the Horse, drop in to the Vagabond. Another must mention is the Pork Ribs at Local Hero Pub. If you’re a carnivore YOU MUST ORDER THEM.
The next day our gracious new riding friend Brady took us for a hot lap on Mount Seven, the riding once again blew the group away. A huge thanks to Steve, Brady, Mike, Jordan, The Eagle Eye restaurant and everyone else who made the Horse and Golden so memorable.
Day 5: Next Stop Silver Star
After the Mount Seven ride and a 6hour road tour, we pulled into the charismatic ski resort- Silver Star. Silver Star is located in Vernon BC and has a very unique style. Resembling a colorful western styled mining town, the town stands out on its own. Everyone checked in and to all our surprise the resort had season passes waiting for everyone. That was a great surprise! It was getting late so we all headed to our rooms prepping for an early start.
Day 6: Life’s Good – Hello Silver Star!
Today was the first day on the bikes at Silver Star. The girls were ready before most of us were even out of bed. We all met at everyone’s new favorite breakfast bakery Bugaboos. Where our Netherlands hosts served us freshly baked pastries of all varieties. The town of Silver Star is located midway down the mountain, so after breakfast we got a warm up lap down to the chairlift.
Wow! what a surprise. Blown away doesn’t even do this ‘warm up’ trail justice. ‘Blast Off’ is a perfectly sculpted berm run where weightlessness occurs between every corner. It was truly an eye opening experience. I’ve ridden most of the BC Park trails now and there is nothing like this one anywhere. As luck would have it, this was just the beginning and more of the same style trails followed.
Shazaam, Pipe Dream, Rockstar are all berm-jump-berm style trails and all will blow your mind. After a few runs, questions in regards to real estate began to surface. The crew was stoked and already wanted to move here! After a morning of going as fast as possible down the trails, the crew craved something a little more technical. Downtown, World Cup and Double Dog quickly became favorites. The variety at Silver Star was warm welcome and filled every desire the group had.
After an over extending day of riding the exhausted crew headed for Paint Ball. 6 days of relationship building climaxed. Two teams were divided and an all war broke loose. Better times with guns have never been had. Shoot up conversations over beers continued for hours after, as everyone showed off their paint ball welts. That was until the video games broke out on the big screen at the Saloon and game faces were back in check.
Day 7: The Good Life … continues
Today was the last day for the crew to ride. To be honest, as good a time as we were having, we were all spent. We took a mellower pace today and stopped to session a few of the stunts. After numerous tries Jeff managed to link the 4 connecting teeter-totters. He was pumped and little bruised from his effort. The day continued with more DH styled trails and a great lunch at Bull Dog. After a few more hot laps and some of the fastest riding we all have experienced, we all in agreement that as riders, we had improved tremendously. All the on slope coaching had paid off huge.
It was evident in everyone’s technique; the confidence in corners and technical riding had our group riding strong. After catching the final chair, again we enjoyed some après Kokanee’s and headed for… Paint Ball! A final round of paint pellets was released on each other and contentment was painted across the faces of all.
The trip was winding down to its last evening, a little tired; the team went out for one last dinner. Tonight’s dinner was a spectacular fine dining experience at Marty’s Silver Star Grill. Marty’s is a fine dining experience you should enjoy if you’re in the town. The team was in awe at the experience and the men were smitten with the service.
I think it is safe to say Silver Star could possibly be the best bike park in the Canada. The people, terrain and level of commitment on behalf of staff and trail crew is amazing. To be fair, good trails are all about the dirt. The mountain has amazing dirt to work with and the trail network benefits from it. It was perfect ending to a perfect trip.
After 7 days of riding the Marin bikes held there own, minimal maintenance and no injuries for the riders occurred. The winners were shwagged out from all the sponsors and everyone left with a new group of friends. It really was The Ultimate Road Trip.
Thanks to everyone!
Written by Shaums March / Ian Millar
Photos by Ian Millar
For more information on Bike Parks BC visit www.bikeparksbc.com