Mountain biking is a fast-growing sport and British Columbia has some of the most epic riding on offer. Getting into mountain biking is relatively easy in BC as the province is home to many world-class ski resorts which convert to elaborate lift-accessed bike parks during the summer, complete with all the gear needed to outfit you on the trails. I recently ventured to Sun Peaks Resort, located just 45mins north of Kamloops in the Thompson Okanagan region of BC, to check out the mountain bike park and take in one of their summer biking festivities, the Canada Cup DH Race. The weekend promised sunshine and warm temperatures and upon arrival, the resort was abuzz with preparations for the race ramping up and close to 300 competitors mulling around waiting for their chance to rip it up on what has now been named in the World’s Top 10 Bike Parks.
After settling into our accommodation at the Delta Hotel, located in the heart of the village and a short jaunt to the summer chairlift, I headed into the bike rental shop, conveniently connected to the hotel. The shop techs at Elevation, Sun Peaks’ one-stop-shop for mountain biking rental gear, were super friendly and helpful from the moment I stepped inside. They got me all geared up in no time with padding, helmet, and some quick adjustments to the bike they had chosen for me, and sent me on my way feeling confident that I had all the right equipment for my first downhill mountain biking adventure. If I hadn’t my experienced mountain biking husband with me as my personal coach for the day, I would have definitely signed up with a resort instructor or timed my visit with one of the many bike camps the resort offers to assure my confidence on the slopes that day.
Heading up the Sunburst Chairlift, I could see the intricate trail system that made up this impressive bike park. It was fascinating to watch the riders sweep down the flowing trails and even hit some of the features in the dirt jump area. As a beginner, it was inspiring to see the skill and ease the experienced bikers rode with but more motivating was how much fun they seemed to be having. Hooting and hollering as they descended, I knew I was headed into some fun. At the top of the lift, we met up with some of the race competitors who were lined up waiting for their turn to run the course for inspection. The race would go off the next day so the focus for this day was to get to know the trail in preparation for their qualifying run.
In a similar mode, it was time for me to make my first acquaintance with the mountain bike trails. After a quick glance at the trail map, I chose the long, flowing green trail “Smooth Smoothie” which turned out to frequently intersect with the other major green trail, “Lever Lover” so I got to sample both in one run. Smooth Smoothie definitely lived up to its name with mild rollers and gentle berms while Lever Lover was more of a natural single-track with some exposed roots and tighter turns. Both trails were perfect and diverse enough for the beginner rider to hone their skills on all day long.
Down at the base, the energy started to pick up in the afternoon as competitors came off the mountain and the sun-soaked patios filled up. As part of the weekend festivities, Rockstar put on a spectacular spectator event with their Global FMX Freestyle Motocross Show. These guys were uber-talented and entertained the crowd with impressive aerial manoeuvres.
Race day for the Canada Cup was exciting to see with lots of spectators gathering at the base and on the lower mountain. The competitors were of a wide age range and while the majority of the entrants were male, there were 30 women entered and the youngest just 13 years old. The race was also sanctioned as a BC Cup, allowing for a broader range of classes and ultimately, more competitors to get in on the action. It was thrilling to watch the racers give their final push to the finish and still have enough energy to get some air or holler out a “Yeah, Buddaaay” as they zoomed by.
Between the excitement of the bike festival and hopping on a downhill mountain bike for the first time, my experience at Sun Peaks was a blast. I’ll definitely be back to shred up the trails and either take in one of the many summer events the resort puts on or return for the newly announced Canadian National Downhill and Cross Country Marathon Mountain Bike races that are set to take place next summer.
Biking at Sun Peaks Resort