Story and photos by local rider, Dylan Sherrard.
And suddenly summer is fading. The seasons shift a little more swiftly in Sun Peaks, and the all-time fall-time conditions we dream of are readily available as the days come winding down. For Evan Groves, who’s brand new to mountain biking and riding in Sun Peaks, it’s a can’t stop, won’t stop affair of squeezing every last lap. “Sun Peaks is the place where my skills have progressed the most this summer,” exclaims Evan with a childlike stoke as we ride the new Sundance chair. “From Ranch laps to Pineview shreds, my skill level was slowly increasing, but as soon as I started hitting Sun Peaks on a regular basis I noticed my confidence escalating greatly. These trails are built so well, even if I’m not clearing jumps I’m able to find comfort and work toward getting huge air!”
So we roll off the Sundance and straight to Stella Blue. “I'm a big Stella fan!” Evan admits openly. “The top is flowy and even though I'm not at the level where I'm clearing most of the jumps yet, I'm still able to have a great time flying down the trail. I also really enjoy lapping Bad Habit, the toilet bowl puts a smile on my face every time. And the fact that it's like a perfectly paved highway with manicured lips and berms for days! The more I've been riding and exploring all that Sun Peaks has to offer, I'm just finding more and more favourites.”
You could make the argument that there’s never been a better time to be a beginner mountain biker - or to make your first leap into the Sun Peaks Bike Park - and Evan would happily back you up. “In my mind Sun Peaks is made for progression. Being new to the sport, my progression is something that is important to me and the way most of the trails have been built, progression is made a lot easier.”
“I only got into mountain biking in late summer of 2021,” Evan continues, “And I had the opportunity to join friends at Sun Peaks in September, but I felt intimidated by the thought of biking on a ‘huge hill’. I imagined every trail being steep and loose and way out of my league. But when I heard about the new lift opening this year I had to check out the new trails. And I'm so glad I took that leap and rode Sun Peaks because boy, oh boy it’s a wonderful place!”
And as our laps pile on, I’m realizing it’s a regular daily occurrence for new riders to find themselves invited to ride the park, just like Evan, and driving home with a head full of fresh perspective on what’s possible when they hop on their bikes. And as that experience continues to expand beyond the limitations of the chairlift, Evan and I switch kits to begin pedalling toward the fresh cut flow of Morrisey. Winding upward around fern framed turns and through tall cedar trunks, we’re transported into another dimension of mountain biking. Cedar Twist fades into Calypso Groove and our minds are all but melting. There’s 20 some years of experience between our time on two wheels, yet the easy roll and flow adds up to the same sounds shouting through the forest.
“That made a sneaky appearance on my radar!” Evan shouts with a wide-eyed gaze, “That’s one of the coolest trails I’ve ever ridden so far.”
Our day winds down and we sink into a patio scene, anticipating a crisp evening breeze. “So are you pretty sold on this program or what? Can you see yourself making a routine of it?” I ask Evan as we order our dinner.
“Absolutely!” He snaps back without missing a beat. “In the future, I imagine Sun Peaks as the place where I will build new friendships while I hone my biking skills. I’m already imagining next summer. And I can't wait to ride to all three lakes with a group of friends next season!”
And just as the sun sinks behind the hillside, string lights illuminate the scene, and another curious rider is suddenly inspired by everything the ride has to offer.