Words and photos by local rider Dylan Sherrard.
“Sun Peaks has been the place for me to get away from the small stresses in my daily life and have fun with my friends,” Cheryl admits, with an almost mischievous smile as we near the top of the chairlift. “It’s amazing to feel scared, yet so in control at the same time.”
We step from the lift and meet our friends just in time for a classic Canadian stand-off to ensue.
“What do you want to ride?” I ask.
“Ah, whatever you’re into,” the crowd replies.
And we rotate around the party a few times before Cheryl pipes up, “Alright, DH to Smitties it is then.”
“Oooo that’s a big chunk to bite off for breakfast,” we all offer in varying degrees.
“No you guys are fine. It’s only scary if you go too fast,” Cheryl assures us with the same smile I saw on the chair.
A true champion of the chunder & gnar, “It’s traditional Sun Peaks riding!” Cheryl exclaims, once asked why she’s drawn to the steepest of singletracks by default. “Well, I’m also a bit lazy to be honest,” she laughs.
“It’s sheer laziness for me,” Cheryl continues. “All I have to do is hang on and control my speed. I don’t love trying to get speed, pedaling my DH bike, or working too hard for it. I love the easy speed on the steep stuff. It’s the greatest.”
We clean the gnar and creep down the steeps before cruising into the flowing berms that compose the bottom of each lap. A Sun Peaks shredder since the late 90’s who has loved the park through decades of growth and change, I’m curious how Cheryl feels about the change of pace with new flow trails and increased traffic.
“Overall, I’m so happy to see it all happening,” Cheryl says about the rapid growth of the Bike Park in recent years. “I’m happy to host women’s camps. Bring people together for local events. Small races. Whatever. I just feel happy that Sun Peaks is successful, and that they continue to listen to locals for direction as things grow.”
“There’s so much traffic in the park now,” Cheryl explains through a look of disbelief as we hop back in line for another lap. “But it’s honestly running the greatest I’ve ever seen it. I appreciate the efficient management of that growth," she adds. “Lift Operations are just killing it, performing truly incredible work, especially during the challenges of COVID. It’s amazing.”
“I really hope to see the continued success of intermediate developments in the park,” Cheryl says as we load the bikes for the ride home. “But I also hope that Sun Peaks will never lose its roots,” she continues.
“That steep, raw terrain is what really makes the place unique. So in the years to come I just imagine Sun Peaks as the place for celebrating the rough and rugged side of downhill riding… the way that a lot of us learned of the sport and fell in love with it.”