Downhill rider in grey shirt ascends a jump close to the camera.

Story and photos by Dylan Sherrard

The late days of summer in Sun Peaks always arrive in abrupt and notable fashion. A cool breeze whispers in a season of change and were pressed to find any element of the ride that isnt shifting. And if youve been fortunate to ride in Sun Peaks recently, youll recognize that mountain biking has been enjoying an extended season of change spanning recent years. I see it ringing true with the families in the lift line, the kids lapping the Progression Park, and the riders opting to climb the increasing volume of trails spread all over the valley. Downhill mountain biker riding around purple flowers on a flow trail with the sun setting behind him.

Im sipping a coffee while plotting a ride with Aidan Kelly - Chief Marketing Officer of Sun Peaks Resort, and a character key in creating these changes - and the impact of growth is echoing all around me. 

Its a place where we get to welcome guests to share our playground in the mountains. How good is that?” Aidan asks, as I enquire about his perspective on the recent growth of riding in Sun Peaks.

"The stories and experiences of the people who come and go is what drives the place forward.” Side by side images of a rider smiling at the camera in a full face helmet and a rider standing at the top of a trail, back lit from the sun.

His first Sun Peaks riding experience coincided with the beginning of his work life in Sun Peaks, and he immediately saw potential for something special. Our Sales Manager (Aaron Weiss) took me down Root Dog on my first lap. I almost got crushed. He almost got fired (joking, not joking). And from that day I knew there was an unrealized opportunity that we could one day tap into with our summer bike product and experience.”

Avoiding Root Dog (obviously) our ride takes us through some of Aidans favourite elements of biking in Sun Peaks. Challenging but approachable,” he describes it as we pick our way through the lines of Gummy Bear and into Spicy Taco where, "Those berms automatically toss you smoothly from one to the next.”

Im surprised that Aidans favourite lap only flirts with the array of Sun Peak's newest trails - trails that he was a driving force in bringing to fruition - though I admire the impact of his push for development all the same.  Downhill mountain biker riding a flow trail through a dimly lit forest.

"Building anything in this day and age is complicated and bike trails are no exception.” Aidan admits when I ask about the push these developments needed. Business cases, consultations, permitting, insurance, layouts, contractors, future maintenance requirements, operational impacts, and financial implications are just a few of the key items that need to be considered and/or worked on before go time. Definitely a fair bit of heavy lifting in advance of building anything, but we have good processes in place to help make it happen.”

And as our ride rolls on through the fast arcs and flowing lines of Holy Rollers into the chunder and gnarly shapes of Arm Pump, I wonder what it takes to inspire and maintain persistence through such heavy administrative lifting.

Sun Peaks had a long history in the bike park world, but hadnt kept up with the pace of industry change over the years. Some people might not be stoked to hear this, but I felt strongly enough that I was advocating for a get in or get outapproach. Status quo was not acceptable. The team created a vision and a plan for what was possible, ownership was supportive, and luckily weve achieved a lot of it much more quickly than I ever could have dreamed.” Mountain biker landing a jump on a flow trail in the forest.Close up of a rider in a full face helmet and goggles looking off from the camera.

It feels agreeable amongst anyone I ride with that Sun Peaks has grown into its current dreamlike state much more quickly than we could have imagined, ourselves. A laundry list of new trails that seamlessly fill the blanks between pre-existing lines, not to mention an entire new mountain of flow trails, and a rapidly expanding network of pedal access trails throughout the valley. It really is dreamlike. And as we ride the lift to the top of that new mountain, I have to ask Aidan, "What aspect holds the most impact in your eyes?”

Without skipping a beat, The inclusivity of the product that exists here. Whether youre a first time rider in the Progression Park or a World Cup racer training on Smittys Steeps. Both riders can have a rad day, but for very different reasons. And thats not something we were always able to say at Sun Peaks.” Mountain biker riding downhill over rocks and roots on a tech trail.

Almost a decade ago,” Aidan continues, I got stoked on biking, and it was because of how welcoming and non-judgmental the culture was. That has always stayed with me, and weve been able to build our bike park product around that same vibe in recent years, while still staying true to our roots.”

Its a vibe thats easily felt in Sun Peaks, fostering a new wave of community growth and engagement. I think of Aidan as a thought leader in pushing Sun Peaks toward the mountain biking destination its become, and the mountain biking destination it will continue blossoming into. In my time at Sun Peaks,” Aidan adds, Ive worked at identifying and pushing for key strategic opportunities, while making sure theres always smarter people than me in the mix who have figured out how to execute and convert the opportunities into reality. The team here is passionate and resilient, theres been no better group to work alongside.”  Man in a grey shirt drinking a glass of water under string lights on a summer patio.

With a career change on Aidans horizon, the shifting seasons and sensation of change feel full circle. Our ride comes to a close with a carefree cruise down Bermalade and into a favourite village patio, where we watch the evening roll in. The sunset colours of a cooler season give way to night amidst conversation about all the infinite possibilities of where life can take us, and how Sun Peaks will continue growing in Aidans absence. Its really become a place to celebrate what we have on our doorstep, in the moment.” Aidan offers. Mountain biker riding down a tech trail surrounded by greenery.

"Its obviously been a turbulent few years for pretty much everyone and everything, and I feel an increased appreciation of what Sun Peaks delivers for those of us lucky enough to spend a lot of time in these mountains, both on and off the trails.”