The Sun Peaks Bike Park season is a major part of my summer and has always been something I look forward to each year. Some pivotal moments in my career have taken place along the loamy lines of dirt that live in the park and a fair number of “firsts” have been ticked off my list there too. With the park set to open soon on June 28th, I’ve been daydreaming a lot lately, looking back on some of my greatest memories of riding bikes at Sun Peaks. It seems like it would be fun to share some of those memories and help get everyone warmed up for the best part of the bike season. Pleased to Meet You
My maiden voyage down the manicured trails of Tod Mountain was a chance encounter in the summer of 2007. I was invited to tag along while Graham Agassiz guinea pigged a few booters in the resort’s new jump park. The jumps were considerably larger than anything I’d ridden previously and perhaps a bit out of reach for the seventeen year old, non bearded Shredhard. I was skeptical about what I was capable of, but I was also very keen.
That afternoon I exercised great use of my eject button. I sailed across the sky without my bike and landed sliding on my bum several times before finally hanging on tight and committing to sending the gaps and riding away intact. I believe I made a shady first impression on the marketing manager and staff photographer who were in attendance for that session, but I earned myself a free lunch and an invitation to participate in a jump demo being held in the village that evening.
I was so flattered by my invitation and so eager to please that it wasn’t until midway through the show that I realized the awkwardly abrupt first ramp was being held up with the bucket of an excavator. The shady reputation I may have started for myself earlier that day was further established when I rolled in a little too close behind Aggy, smashed into his rear wheel mid-air and sent him sideways to the flat landing below. As the sun went down and our bikes were set aside, I tried to make it known how appreciative I felt for the seemingly random cycling escapades I’d been included in that day. I was pleased with my experience and the people I met, and I hoped it would be possible to return to Sun Peaks again soon.
I’ll never forget falling asleep that night and thinking that Sun Peaks could only be accurately described as "wild." It was my greatest hope that someday I could perhaps fill a similar description and I wondered if spending more time at the resort would help me achieve that. And I never could have guessed what the future and Sun Peaks had in store for me. Yeah Bro!
The following summer I purchased my first car, an 89’ Ford Thunderbird that was painted burgundy and had an obnoxiously loud exhaust system. It was road trip time for me and whoever was willing to squish into my funny car and that meant I would be spending a lot more time riding the Sun Peaks Bike Park.
Untitled from Matt Miles on Vimeo.
A real crew was coming together at the resort that summer and a lot of great friendships were started on the trails. Matty Miles and Ian Killick seemed to be around the park just as often as I was and they too were beginning to stray further from the machine built trails where we would learn the meanings of steep rocks and hot brakes.
I almost remember the whole 2008 season as if it was one long summer day of crushing Steam Shovel laps. Literally like a mass-start downhill race, we narrowly escaped crashing into each other all over the trails while shouting “death race!” and “yeah bro!” The latter of which was once exclaimed with such enthusiasm that it became the official slogan of the resort and all its events for the following few years. You can still spot “Yeah Bro!” stickers all over Kamloops to this day.Slashing With the Big Dogs
My 2009 season at Sun Peaks came around with a surprise and a special treat. An invitation to shred a new trail with fresh berms a week before the park would be opened for the public had me feeling spoiled rotten. Even better, Matt Hunter was going to be riding with us and John Gibson would be snapping photos.
The fresh turns of the trail called Barn Burner were still soft and sliding into them was like nothing I’d ever experienced before. Chasing Hunter as he dove from side to side with his back wheel dragging sideways behind him, spraying bits of clay into my face, is forever burned into my memory as one of the most bad ass moments I’ve ever had on my bicycle.
We carried on slashing piles of sand and collecting photos for a while before moving to the over-shot Steam Shovel step up where rain clouds were circling overhead. Gibby was hoping to capture some solid whips before the rain came down and on a few tries I was within inches from scraping my back tire on his lens. We managed to snatch what we thought would be sufficient and even squeezed in a few more corners before the sky began to fall and forced us back to the bottom of the mountain.
Later that year one of Gibby’s photos of me whipping past his face turned up printed over two pages in Dirt Uk, with a caption reading, “Wish you were here? If you try hard enough you can pretend that you are Dylan Sherrard and that you are whipping it out in the Sun Peaks Resort, BC, Canada. Keep dreaming.”
Well, I kept on dreaming. I spent the rest of that season working hard to photograph my favorite moments on my favorite trails in the park. I captured a lot more photos that got a lot more mileage that year, but nothing ever exceeded the pride I felt when I opened that magazine to page 22 and found myself printed sideways across two pages.Handicam VOD’s
By the time 2010 rolled around my friend Karl Heldt and I were feeling well established at the Resort as the go to crew – two men to make the park look good. Over the course of a few seasons we produced several video’s to share our vision of the bike park with riders around the world and everyone seemed to enjoy the way we were doing it. The marketing man had become a good friend to us and he allowed us to do whatever we thought was necessary to get the park the exposure it deserved.
A ridiculous amount of planning went into everything we did, but there was still an element of nonchalance to our work that couldn’t be anything but endearing. We always left everything to the last minute and never failed to overlook some crucial detail in the planning process. Karl was shooting on a sketchy Sony handy-cam and somehow managed to create things more aesthetically pleasing than any kid with a bag full of high end camera gear could. I still can't understand how he did it.
Sometime in the not too distant future, the little sparks of creativity we shared became the internet wildfire of Silvia Films. Silvia’s establishment was followed by a wave of an online following and a new video of Matt Miles shredding Sun Peaks cleaned up Pinkbike’s inaugural video of the year contest in 2012. It’s funny how such big things can grow from a place as small as Sun Peaks and it still makes me chuckle to think that a few random kids running around in the woods with cameras and bicycles can create such an impact on a sport.Growing Greater with Time
In much more recent times, Sun Peaks has really grown up to be what I always imagined it could be when I first started riding there. It is accepted as one of the gnarlier places a cyclist can play and after a solid six years of referring back to my thesaurus, I still can’t think of a better word than “wild” to describe the trails in the park.
Over the past couple season I haven’t been quite as involved with the resort as I would like to have been, but that’s certainly not because I was bored. I was just busy worrying about different things and investing my time in other places. I still shot some photos that ended up getting a lot of mileage, I still coached some really fun camps, and I still participated in a never ending rampage of mid summer hot laps. I just wasn't there as often as I felt like I should be.
I'm going ahead and fixing that this year with more Sun Peaks action stuffed up my sleeves than before. I'm looking forward to working closer together than ever with the great people of the Resort this summer as we bring to life a new generation of events and marketing material. It sounds like we will be pumping out the stoke on a whole new level and crushing the trails day in, day out. I hope to see you there.
To learn more about the resort and book your trip today, visit www.sunpeaksresort.com
If you're feeling pretty fired up and hoping to get a lot more days of shredding Sun Peaks trails this summer, check out the Sun Peaks Freeride Camp lead by Dylan and his friends Graham Agassiz, Matt Miles and Ace Hayden!
Banner photos by Blake Jorgenson