I haven't lived in the loops for a long time, but a long enough time to call it home. In the time I have been here I've seen a lot of friends come and go. Some were just regular people without much interest in anything too particular, some were strange people in an endearing way that made me feel fortunate to have met them, some were riders like me. And in rare instances, a few key individuals have appeared in my life who were somehow all three of those people at the same time. When I was first a visitor to Kamloops I didn't know much of the place. I was like any other visitor trying to scratch the surface of all the great things that reside here. Fortunately, I met the correct individuals who would show me everything that I was looking for.
That was an act of kindness I will forever feel a sort of debt for and without any real way to pay it off, I try to pay it forward in whatever little ways I can to visitors new and old. In the process of doing so, I have met those few key individuals who have taught me important little things about life and reminded me how fortunate I am to be here in Kamloops. When these interesting gentleman from the road make their way through Kamloops I try to drop everything and make as much time for them as possible. I want them to soak up the full Kamloops scene every time they are here. I thought it would be fun if I used my column this month to expose some of my favorite Kamloops' visitors. Some really bad ass friends of mine and shredders that you probably don't hear about often enough.
I mentioned Steve in an earlier article this year and how he provided my initial motivation to move to Kamloops. He actually lived here long before I did, but has since become a visitor again. When I'm thinking about Steve, "classic Kamloops style" always comes to mind, because he was one of the first riders who could whip a big bike around on big hits in the hills. I still remember being fifteen - before internet mountain biking was so popular - and anxiously awaiting a new Kaleb Trozzo photo of Steve to be uploaded to the Pinkbike forums. When Steve moved back to his hometown of Lethbridge, Alberta, I guess we sort of traded places in this scene. But I think there is something Steve will always miss about Kamloops and that must be why he has found the spare bed at my house the same way I once found the spare bed at his.
I love it when Steve comes to visit. He laughs like a little kid and has a silly grin that likely doesn't leave his face until he is headed home, several hours east of here. He is full of a contagious and lighthearted energy, ready to shred from sun up to sun down and always sure to poke fun at the kids who are talking trash or taking things a bit too seriously. But if there is one important thing I have learned about Steve, it's that he seriously isn't afraid to get gnarly. He's developed this high-tech device we call, "The Send It Button." He can stay in Alberta without riding for a year, then show up and send all the biggest hits in town with the same classic style he was always known for. This was certainly the case when he came to visit last spring and joined me for some of the greatest rides of that season. I hope he returns again soon to shred some new trails and fresh hits with me and my friends.
Luke lives in Merritt, which is only about 45 minutes away. But that's a long enough distance that I don't get to see him as often as I'd like to. It feels like a real treat when you see a big black Chevy roll up to the jumps, because you know that a hilarious kid who is seriously stoked to shred just showed up. Probably my favorite thing about Luke's visits is that I actually don't have to plan ahead or drop anything from my schedule. He just shows up unannounced with a bike in one hand, a shovel and an extra large double-double in the other. In addition, he usually packs some stupid joke that isn't by any means humorous, but pretty damn funny just because he said it.
Riding with Luke is usually pretty wild. I'm not entirely sure how to explain it, but he has a way of going twice as high as everyone around with seemingly half the speed or effort. Every time he comes to town he brings a new tweak in his style that I'd previously never considered and have a real challenging time trying to describe. And the best part about Luke's visits, he is just here to screw around and have fun on his bike. A fifty-fifty case gets him just as stoked as a flip whip. Luke isn't totally cool, though. He is currently a member of an elite group of weirdos who are able to front flip, but not back flip. Ian Killick is the only other confirmed group member and they just don't make any sense to me. Like I said, weirdos. Ha ha, just kidding!
Probably one of the most entertaining people I have ever met, "Zee German," is from very far away. I met Florian the same way that I meet a lot of people, he showed up at the Bicycle Cafe looking for a job and a bike ride. He was on vacation after finishing high school and needed a place to stay. So I offered him the spare bed at my house for a few nights until he found a basement suite to rent for the duration of summer. A few nights slowly turned into a month, but I really enjoyed his extended stay because I learned a lot from Florian. I learned how to open a beer bottle with another beer bottle, with a sheet of paper, with a spinning bicycle wheel and just about every other household item you can think of. I also learned that he was an extremely talented photographer. A fact I would use against him aggressively and extensively, trying to convince him to stay here in Kamloops shredding and shooting photos for a living. Despite my greatest pleads he still moved home to Germany to attend university, which was probably a smart move in the long run.
Now that I recall, Florian's visit at my house was hilarious in every conceivable aspect. He never stopped laughing about how many jacked-up trucks were on the road or the length of the trains lining the highway. Catching a ride to work with me every morning, he continued to point out all the small differences between German and Canadian traffic in such great detail that I actually feel like I have driven in Germany. Flo had a pretty solid gig at the Bicycle Cafe Kamloops as well. Camping in the back of my truck with his bike and a bag of honey cruller timbits, eagerly awaiting the next truck full of riders to hop in with. There is no numerical value to describe how funny it was that day after day, customers came in to the store alerting me of the homeless person sleeping in my truck box. But Florian had that game dialed when riders started coming to pick him up on their way to the trails everyday. In the summer he visited, he probably rode twice as much as I did and the excitement that he was generating was certainly infectious. I'm betting that when Florian finishes school you'll likely find him in the Bicycle Cafe parking lot, camped out in the back of a black Ford Ranger again.
Tyler is the man cracking the whip behind these columns and I often think of him as the personification of the internet. I don't know Tyler's official job title, but he seems to be in charge of making sweet stuff happen on the internet and anywhere else he ends up. That is certainly the case when he visits Kamloops. Despite being a visitor he somehow knows his way around town better than I do, and trip after trip I have to get detailed directions in order to find his hotel. A couple of years ago he actually guided me on a trail ride in Kamloops and still knows the deactivated logging road route to that particular trail in much better detail than I can ever seem to remember. His general know-how of getting around has actually inspired me to pay better attention when sniffing out the good spots in foreign territory, in hopes that I'll find my way back to them as effortlessly as he does.
Even though he makes me feel like I'm the new guy in town, I always have a great time when Tyler comes to visit. He always seems to sneak into town just long enough for a few stellar rides before sneaking back out to the Pinkbike Headquarters. Spending all my time working, riding bikes and playing in the woods can make me into a bit of a hermit, so I actually appreciate his greater knowledge of Kamloops. It seems to come in handy and lead me to a lot of really good restaurants and great nights on the town. I also really enjoy the enthusiasm Tyler brings on the road with him. He is always keen to head straight to the trails, gossip about some industry news and talk about exciting projects we can work on together. As far as I can tell, his only bad habit is that he sticks post it notes to the back of his iPhone. It will be fun to go on another bicycle rampage when Tyler visits for the Unicorn Race again this spring and I sure hope he hasn't forgotten that he still owes me a trip to the elusive Hello Toast.
Those are some of my favorite riders that periodically make their way in and out of Kamloops. They are not by any means the only riders I enjoy visits from, though certainly some of the most energetic, entertaining and interesting people who've made their way into my life in the loops. As I wrote above, I've learned a lot from these characters and they've provided me with stories that I'll continue to tell for years to come. And among all those little things I've learned from this group of class act dudes, the most important is something very simple. Each and every time one of them visits I am reminded that bikes just simply make people happy. No matter where you're from or what language you speak, bikes bring people together and bikes make people happy. So when I run into random people in Kamloops and they sort of radiate that same passion for bikes that I see in so many of my friends, I know it's time to wipe the schedule clean and hit the trails.
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