When applying for university I had a different motivation than the rest of my high school friends. I wanted to ride my bike. Riding had become such a major part of my life I realized university was not only an opportunity to educate myself, but also an opportunity to move to where I could do what I loved most. I knew right away I wanted to leave Ontario and move to British Columbia. At first I didn't even care what part of BC I went to, but looking back, I realize I couldn't have made a better choice or ended up in a better location. I chose to attend UBC Okanagan, and I think anyone else who rides bikes and is planning on going to university should come here too.
The following article was written on behalf of the UBCO Mountain Bike Club with the goal of bringing mountain bikers to UBCO. How are we hoping to do that? The plan is to convince those of you that want to ride your bike and go to university that attending UBCO is the best of both worlds.
UBCO MTB Club Vice-President Kirk Mcdowall riding in Kamloops. Kirk raced his first world cup at Hafjell Norway, finishing 46th. Photo: Liam Mullany.
UBCO is UBC Vancouver's satellite campus in Kelowna, BC. The school was opened in 2005 and currently has 8300 students enrolled in undergraduate and graduate programs. UBCO have the faculties of Engineering/Applied Sciences, Arts and Sciences, Fine Arts, Management, and Nursing. More information can be found on UBC Okanagan's website: www.ubc.ca/okanagan/
The UBCO Mountain Bike Club was started as a Facebook group 5 years ago by founders John Fisher and Liam Mullany. Even though the club has evolved a lot since then, the club's purpose remains the same: provide a platform for university riders to meet, organize ride days, events, trips, and trail building. The club became an official UBCO club 2 years ago and now receives funding from the university. The club owns its own trail building tools, as well as a Freelap Timing System that we all fight over every weekend.
Ryan Bath showing the trick step-up who is boss. You wouldn't believe how much better he's gotten since he first came here. Photo: Nathan Dobson.
Why choose UBCO? Two reasons: First, Kelowna has an amazing trail network. Any type of riding you want to do is available here; DH, XC, All-Mountain, DJ. The second part is that the UBCO MTB Club provides the other piece of the puzzle needed for amazing rides, which is friends to ride with. The club currently has over 90 Facebook members and ride days take place 2-3 days a week. All active members of the club know each other well and the buddies you ride downhill with are usually the same you'll ride XC, dirt jump, or build with. This is what our newest member had to say about his experience at UBCO:
Even in such a short time, the riding here has made a huge change in me. The camaraderie of the riding club and riding community is incredible in helping intermediate riders improve their skills. Being in BC has opened my eyes to a whole new aspect of building and riding that I never had in Ontario. -Stephan Rayner
Geoff Hodson shredding on campus. Photo: Pat Taillefer.
The other thing that makes UBCO special for riding is the amount of riding available right on campus. The club has built a downhill race track, massive trick step-up, multiple-loop pump track, dirt jumps, and a berm/jump trail all within a 5 minute ride of the university. Although a lot of riding is done off campus, over 50% of the riding happens within a kilometer of the school. The following video made by one of the club's founders, Liam Mullany, shows what some of the sessions are like at our pumptrack.
Steve Leslie on the pumptrack. Photo: Pat Taillefer.
Surprisingly, coming to UBCO has allowed me to ride more than ever. With such high quality riding on our doorstep, it makes it possible to sneak in daily rides, even in the thick of exams. Can't beat a study break at the pumptrack! -Josh Toohill
Josh Toohill riding the top section of Legacy. Photo: Nathan Dobson.
Pat McCarter riding Legacy. Photo: Nathan Dobson.
Check out the UBCO promotional video featuring bike club members from 0:38 to 1:14: