the moment I pressed down on my pedals and pointed toward Barn Burner. I leaned hard into the first shale turn and lifted my wheels from the dirt to watch the trail pass beneath me. I held off my brakes and sat deep into my bike, staying low across the long tables. I slid far across the right and as my front wheel began to rise from the turn I began my short sprint through a field of fireweed and made my way hastily toward High Octane.
My tires crossed the void from one root to the next, and as the mountain became steeper I felt slab after slab of jagged rock rolling away beneath me. I skipped across an access road and drifted away to Smitties Steeps. Swaying side to side from the backseat of my bicycle, I felt safe smashing the loamy edges of a war torn trail. I saw the top of soggy trees pointing back at me before I bounced from bridge to bridge, slid around two long turns, and hopped from a gravel road to a narrow singletrack.
With the trail named Wagon Wheel hiding deep beneath a sea of tall grass I charged along, trusting my memory of the lines from year's past. As the ground grew taller before me I laid my weight over to my right side, turned my handlebar, pulled it toward my hip, and felt the very edge of traction before my tires slid out from beneath me. I listened carefully as my rear wheel chopped through blades of moist grass across the gap and down the side of the landing.
The remainder of that trail passed by as an endless drift and I carried along my way with a foot out, flat out skidding toward the top of the Flow Zone. I replaced my foot upon my pedal and rolled in with disregard for any caution. Hit after hit, I felt the world falling away behind me. I floated high above the earth and kept a keen eye toward the top corner of my landing as my feet followed my knees over my shoulders. I looked up to watch the world fall back in line and felt my heart beat interrupting my breath as I passed through the gates and into Biker X.
I tugged up ever so slightly and placed my rear wheel gently into the landing. I fought my finger away from the brake and carried my manual up the next lip. It bucked me forward and I pressed back to hold my front wheel to the dirt this time. A little tweak into the turn and I was on my way to the bottom. Sailing over top of brake bumps and bomb holes I won the war against traction and drifted gracefully back toward the lift line to experience it all again.
It was early July when I reached the bottom of the mountain but everything happening around me had me swearing it was October. The alpine air was chill and the trails were as sticky as ever. A cold rain came hard in the evening and left a thick fog lingering in the morning. Each day in the Sun Peaks Bike Park was a flowing succession of my imagination’s perfection. From behind my fogged and speckled lens, everything appeared perfect and something new was clicking for me.
This was the way that I’d always imagined riding - top to bottom laps linking all the deadliest lines and never stopping to wonder along the way. I was riding at an all time high and my bike was a seamless extension of my body. I didn’t struggle with a single maneuver, I simply floated down the mountain in a careless way.
I felt like I was on a new level and I couldn’t shake the thought that everything I’d ever done had added up to those laps. All of the pedal pin slashes in my shins and each of the pink etchings in my hands and forearms; they were all stamps of approval. Stepping stones that eventually brought me to what I now regard as some of the most charming days of my existence, and the greatest rides of my life.
Conditions carried on that way until late in the season and I carried on freaking out silently to myself. The entire Sun Peaks season sort of feels like a dream now that it has come and gone again. This year was special, I realized a new potential in myself and a new potential in my favourite place to play. I have my pockets stuffed full of new Sun Peaks memories and I am already counting down the days before we can begin to make some more.
Special thanks to Devin Knopf for making the Sun Peaks Bike Park the best it has ever been.
To keep up with Dylan between issues of Life In The Loops
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Banner images by Blake Jorgenson