Story and photos by local rider, Dylan Sherrard.
“We actually found this place by total chance during a search for somewhere to stay and ride a bike park in the same time,” Mike Braun admits with a smile of disbelief shining in the Sun Peaks summer glow. “That was back in 2014. Our kids took lessons and summer camps, some of us got stitches, core memories were formed… and now we’ve been back 10 times over the last 8 years.”
“It’s both a little weird and very exciting at the same time,” Mike chuckles. “Tyler was only 12 back then. Now he’s 20 and drinking a beer on the patio with me. And it feels like this place has really grown up with us, just as much.”
After so many visits from Alberta in the last decade, it would be fair if the Braun family were to imagine visiting somewhere else on their summer holidays, “But the kids actually said they would divorce from our family if we went any place else!” Mike laughs and leans into his ribs. He’s a little roughed up from a crash a couple nights prior. The seldom spoken-of side of progression is the sore reminder that sometimes when we’re pushing it in the park, the park can push back. “I’m ok though,” Mike insists with that warm smile. “I’m just happy it was a mellow tumble and that I can hold down a spot on the patio all afternoon.”
And on that note, I embark on an afternoon of hot laps with the kids. “What are we hitting first?!” I ask the fellas. “My favourite lap to stitch together has always been the classic Sugar to Sweet One because of the techy flow and cool, damp creek that the trails follow. It almost feels as if you’re outside of the bike park… but I’m also really excited about learning all the new trails on Sundance.” So we hop the lift to the top of Sundance, and lean into the lazy of flow of carefully crafted lines like Stella Blue. The learning curve is calm and cruisy when the lines of the trail flow so naturally, and it feels as if we’ve been lapping this trail for years already. “Sometimes I send the hits and sometimes I don’t,” Nic Braun pipes up. “I just go by the feel of the day, and today is definitely a good day for sending it!”
So we carry on this new wave of Sun Peaks flow, rallying the flowing succession of predictable hits that litter the new lines. Eventually we make our way back to the classic lines of steep and deep Sun Peaks’ past to finish up our day with, “Two more laps and skip the last?”. The vertical stacks up fast on this side of the park, riding and sliding with the summer breeze rhythm, heads spinning on the myriad of mix and match potential now available across the two mountains the Braun family has come to consider their second home.
We swing back by the patio to look for some dinner, and find the kids' parents already posted up, enjoying a pint as the early summer sun sinks into the tree line. With pastel colours painting the sky and only the tiniest glint of jealously in his eye, Mike asks, “so how awful was it?”
“Truly terrible, Mike” I respond in the same sarcastic tone before offering my condolences for his lack of time on the hill that day.
“It’s all good,” Mike smiles as he offers “I know I’ll be back again soon.
“What are you looking forward to most on your next lap through Sun Peaks then?”
“We could always ask for more trails and more lifts - and we’ve got that now - but this atmosphere? I couldn’t ask for anything more, to be honest. I know this is going to continue to be the place that I’ll visualize returning to whenever I need to power through a challenging day… and hopefully the place we’ll be retiring someday, too.”