Words and photos by local rider, Dylan Sherrard
We are in the thick of it. The hot and dusty dog days of summer. The dream of railing tacky turns has been exchanged for surfing and sliding while the sun has been shining heavy overhead for days on end.
We pedal the road to Sugar, and I’m already feeling the temperatures. But Jase Petersen isn’t bothered by the heat. “Thirteen years I’ve been wearing these dreads, mate. I’m pretty well used to it.” And then he leans into the signature Jase chuckles.
If you don’t know him by name, Jase is a man of many hats at Sun Peaks Resort. He's got the sort of wide-eyed and bright-smiled demeanour that makes you feel welcome. And at some point in time between slinging pizzas, building trails, and spreading love through the hills, Jase decided that Sun Peaks is home.
“I came here for the winter, obviously,” he jokes. “But man, when I found out about the bike park, that was when I decided to stay.”
Although many of his formative years were spent dodging cars during ten hour days in the saddle as a bicycle courier in his old home of Sydney, Australia, Jase had never ridden downhill mountain bikes until he visited Sun Peaks in 2008. When he first threw his leg over a long travel bike and dropped into lift access riding, Jase found something new and exciting that solidified the idea of Sun Peaks becoming his new home.
And while we cruise the winding rocky lines atop the trail called Sugar, it’s glaringly obvious that Jase has dedicated a large amount of his time to riding bikes since then. He knows the sneaky spaces between every rock and root, and he makes the trail look easy.
Despite the ease in which Jase and his tires wander around the Sun Peaks Bike Park, it wasn’t all that easy for him to make Sun Peaks his home. Being from Australia, Jase needed to work through the long and arduous process of applying for Canadian Residency while the program was still performed with the seemingly old-school tools of pen and paper. “It took me seven years to get it all sorted. I was one of the last people stuck in the older style of the process. Now that people can do everything online, I’m seeing people complete the process in as little as six months.”
Ever since residency came through for Jase, he’s had his efforts focused on something big. The Sun Peaks Recreational Trail Association - a society through which he is working to bring world class single track trails to the hills surrounding Sun Peaks.
And then we find ourselves flying down the lower parts of Sugar’s better half, ‘Sweet One’. The trail swings lefts and rights as we float between root beds and hop back and forth above the creek. These quiet corners of the park offer a kinder climate, and while we catch our breath beside the trail, I feel curious.
I ask Jase, “After all this hard work, spearheading an association and rallying the hurdles towards your residency, you must have some sort of vision for an ideal future?”
And then his big blue eyes light up as bright as the warm summer sky. And he begins to ramble on, drawing lines in the air, imagining the trails that could be carved into the hills from Sun Peaks to any of the surrounding areas.
Kamloops, Barrier, Shuswap, Adams Lake. None of these places are all that far away. One day, we could all be pedalling picture perfect turns in some of the most beautiful places we can imagine. And if Sun Peaks could be the hub of all those wonderful adventures - in addition to the adventure that is already so close to his front door - I can’t imagine a thing in the world that would make Jase any happier.