Words and photos by local rider, Dylan Sherrard
It’s the kind of summer night that people write stories about. The late day sun is shining warm on my brow, the weekend lines have faded, wildflowers are swaying, and a cool evening breeze is blowing up dust along the trail’s edge.
“I don’t know dude. Barn Burner’s been flowing pretty good for me lately. Let's hit that first?”
James Jeffries, Sun Peaks Resort’s Bike Park Coordinator, is a calm and quiet fella, but the ride we’ve just dropped into is anything else. We coast into the trees and lift up off the edge of the world. Falling into the wilds of summer and surfing on waves of shale as a shattering sound is echoing all around. Berms are blowing by, jagged rocks are passing beneath our tires, and the vert is adding up quickly.
We pass back through the gates and onto the lift, where we hang from the magic cables and chairs that bring these summer dreams to reality. And we talk about the choices we’ve made that have allowed life to lead us to our respective positions and these evenings of two wheeled splendour.
Like any good life situation, it took a long while for James to work things out. And after many years of different bike related jobs, he couldn’t be happier with where his career has taken him.
In discussing this, we both agreed that life has taught each of us to really trust in the process of whatever we are working towards. And for James, right now, the process is making magic at the Sun Peaks Bike Park.
So we point our tires toward the ‘Fun Run,’ a local favourite lap that links together a number of machine built trails, most of which have seen much love from James and his team this summer.
We carve hard lefts and rights, and watch our dust blooming up from the berms and blowing gold in the evening sky. And every few lines that pass, James pulls over to satisfy his passionate curiosities.
“Does this corner fade into that take off real smooth for you?” James asks me. “And are you just coasting into that lip, or do you have to pedal? I don’t want to build stuff and tell people it’s right. I want to make sure it’s good and rolling easy from everyone's perspective.”
And as quickly as our evening laps are burning on, it becomes more apparent than ever that James has the best interest of Sun Peaks mountain bikers in mind.
James has been busy this summer. With a list of to-do’s and ta-da’s consisting of substantial upgrades. He’s been injecting flow, reinventing patches of the mountain, and providing accessibility to young riders in places they would never have felt safe to wander in years past.
“But I don’t want people to think I’m just mellowing everything out,” James is quick to add.
“It’s all a part of the big plan. I want to make the park more flowing for newer riders - so that more riders can enjoy this place - and then I’ll be shifting my focus toward building the kind of jump trails and gnarly lines that attract aggressive riders. Sun Peaks has always been a gnarly park, and I think it should always have that gnarly aspect kept alive as well.”
And with so much incredible work already accomplished in such a short time, thanks to James and his team, everyone who takes part in the turning of two wheels at the Sun Peaks Bike Park has a lot to look forward to.