The 7 Day Giveaway: Some of BC’s Finest Single Track

Sep 27, 2012 at 0:03
Sep 27, 2012
by Martin Littlejohn  
 
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“It's a funny thing ... often we live in a place and don't always see it for what it is or take advantage of the opportunities it provides.” Leanne Neighbor

Mountain Biking BC’s 7 Day Giveaway contest sent a winner and one friend on an amazing seven day trip, guided by Endless Biking and supported by BC Bike Ride, through the interior of British Columbia. School teacher Leanne Neighbor of Kamloops BC convinced the judges in 500 words that she should be the one chosen from ten finalists who were randomly selected from over 3000 entries. Leanne called up her buddy Andre, and they met the team in North Vancouver to start a tour that would take us on an epic trip that included nine trail systems, tubing down the Slocan River, swimming in alpine lakes, a freak loss of fingernails, and some stellar hosting from each region.

The places and trails we visited:
1. Penticton/Naramata: 3 Blind Mice Trail System
2. Rossland: Seven Summits Trail
3. Nelson: Powerslave
4. Revelstoke: Frisby Ridge
5. Shuswap: Rubberhead MTB Trail System
6. Salmon Arm: West Reinecker Creek Trail
7. Vernon: Cosens Creek MTB Area
8. Kamloops: Kamloops Bike Ranch
9. Whistler: Top Of The World Trail

Trying to squeeze the nine areas into seven days made our pace quick, but what we discovered was the sheer volume of trail waiting in the interior of British Columbia. The variety of trails our tires touched was mind-boggling, but trying to wrap our heads around the amount of singletrack we didn’t experience was just a huge tease. The trail hosts from each area seemed to be sharing the same joke about “how much we weren’t seeing.”

In the interior, diversity was the name of the game. We traveled through rocks of smooth granite and sharp shale, powdered each other in dust, tossed loam into the air, splashed through alpine snow patches, dropped off wooden features, launched into the air, and slayed corners everywhere we went. As an East Coast ‘merikan’ I had plenty of new trail experiences, but also the pleasure of finding tight wooded trails in Salmon Arm that were similar to home. Some trails like Frisby Ridge were flowtastic out and back alpine adventures while others were shuttle drops that had us driving up long dirt roads for quicker access. We all rode 5-6” trail bikes and they easily dispatched the buffet of trails we fed from.

Even though Leanne is a resident of the interior she hadn’t ridden in most of the places being content with her corner in Kamloops.

“Though at some point over the course of my life I have been to each of the towns or cities we visited on this trip through BC, there are many that I didn't really know much about or were just a passing point on a road trip to another destination. Of the places we traveled to, I have only ever ridden in Salmon Arm and Kamloops (of course). I only passed through Revelstoke, though I've heard lots of good things about the riding there. I haven't been to Rossland in 20 years. Nelson is another great place I keep talking about getting back to for a visit but haven't had the chance. It was great to see a taste of what the North Shore in Vancouver has to offer besides a ferry terminal for crossing to the Island. This really is a diverse and spectacular province and I am so grateful to have been re-introduced to the wonders it has to offer.”

As a road trip it was easy to cover the 1,500km and not get bored. Roadside fruit stands, lakes with beaches and an ever changing landscape provided plenty of excuses for taking breaks. Check out the pictures from Dave Silver to increase your itch for planning an epic mountain bike trip. Take heed though. Some trails like The Seven Summits and Frisby Ridge are seasonal and you need to plan around the snow.

Penticton/Naramata: 3 Blind Mice Trail System

Our first official day of the trip started in Penticton. We left Vancouver and caravanned into Penticton on the Okanagan Lake to meet up with our local guide and legend, Johnny Smoke.
Smoke’n the Naramata Trails above Penticton. If you’re looking for good company and trails, Johnny’s Bush Pilot Guides will take care of you.
We’re pretty sure Leanne never dropped off anything like this before the trip. Having Endless Biking owners Darren Butler and Kelli Sherbinin along to provide instruction had it’s value.
“As a teacher myself, I can appreciate quality instruction when I see it. I consider myself very fortunate to have experienced 8 days immersed in such a supportive teaching environment. It has benefitted my riding immensely.”
Not only does Okanagan Lake look good, but you can swim in that sucker too.
Hillside Winery
Penticton is Wine country and if you roll through without stopping for a glass or two then you got bigger problems than we can help you with. Unless you don’t drink, then at least stop and eat something amazing.

Rossland: Seven Summits Trail

After two days and a night in Penticton we jumped back into the wagons for a four hour ride to Rossland and the famous IMBA epic, The Seven Summits Trail.
The initial climb is big, but once you’re on top, it’s a series of shorter summits. It’s worth taking a break and preparing for the longest part of your ride. Can you figure out which summits in the background are part of the trail?
After that initial climb, these moments come often. Don’t let the IMBA Epic designation fool you, these trails are not buffed to a polished sleigh ride. I was pleasantly surprised by the technical challenges. Leanne had stitches by the end of the day, and I had four flats from rolling at reckless speeds into chunky rock gardens. I don’t flat often, but I learned a few things about equipment in the interior. It pays to have some thicker rubber under you than normal.
To give you an idea of the diversity of the trail, these two images are the bookends of the ride. On the right is the early climb to the top. On the left is Seven Summits creator and trail master, Stewart Spooner, enjoying the fruits of his labor on the later sections of the trail.

Nelson: Powerslave

Any road trip is going to involve some direction giving and getting. Nelson was a short day. Only four of us choose to ride while the others enjoyed the unique vibe of Nelson and getting caffeinated at Oso Negro Cafe. This photo was from the top of Powerslave. One of my personal favorites of the whole trip. Loam, loam, loam.

After dropping off the mountain we found ourselves tubing on the Slocan River to decompress from all the traveling. It was a welcome break, and a chance to let the inner Kootenay kid out.

Revelstoke: Frisby Ridge

“A definite highlight had to be Frisby Ridge in Revelstoke - the grade of the climbing was comfortable, the scent of the wildflowers was intoxicating in places and the scenery was beyond compare. The mountain views in the distance juxtaposed with the soft meadows in full alpine bloom were extraordinary.” Leanne
We took a swim in this jewel of a lake at 7,000ft. The Frisby Ridge trail is an 11.5km out and back ride. This lake was waiting for us at the turn around point. Unfortunately the number of biting bugs who had already staked claim to the lake was a little overwhelming. Be sure to bring some repellant when you go.
There were a couple good views.
Our local guide Sutra levitating.
The return trip was a moving rave in the woods. The other face of that sweet climb was a descent that made you dance on the pedals and want to punch the sky a few times when done. After losing the two nails the day before, I switched both brakes to the right hand, and held tight to keep the fingers from shaking, praying the whole time I didn’t have a run-in with something tougher than a couple ferns. Thanks to the Nelson ER and modern pharmaceuticals for keeping me going.

Shuswap: Rubberhead MTB Trail System

Kelli Sherbinin always rides with style.
The Rubberhead Trails in Shuswap were a return to a different world from the Frisby Ridge fairyland. In the woods, with lots of loam, and steeps, the trails reminded us to hold on and let the bike roll. The Shuswap Trail Alliance played host and made us feel at home, showing us their developing trail system.
Image for BC Poll
Most bikes were in the 5-6” range. My week old Santa Cruz Tallboy LT felt right at home in BC where I know the 26er has traditionally been king. Besides the three Rocky Mountain Element 26er’s, Darren had his Rocky Mountain Element RSL 29er with a 120mm fork and Mountain Bike BC director Martin Littlejohn had a Transition Bandit 29er. All bikes had a dropper post. These felt like the perfect bikes for the mix of terrain we explored.
Many days ended like this. A good shuttle driver keeps a cooler stocked at all times and we had some of the best!

Salmon Arm: West Reinecker Creek Trail

Bringing houseboats and bikes together has a hint of the brilliance made by other classic combinations. Think chili and chocolate, kites and surfboards, or snakes and planes. The Shuswap Trail Alliance had a boat ready for us to motor out the next morning for the Reinecker Creek Trail. I slept on the top deck under the stars and woke up in the morning with a bird on my head.
The houseboat was a great way to access trails and spend more relaxing time on the water. Even though you can drive to these trails, Shuswap Lake is large and getting there would require a long drive. Get a houseboat because it’s basically a portable water park.
The Reinecker Creek trail was the most “East Coast” trail we rode. Heavily wooded with about a 10” off-camber tread, I felt comfortable but you could tell it threw off riders who were more at home on a wider track. This was the least aggressive trail we rode the whole trip, but I was excited to add it to the list of variety you can find in the interior.
My favorite post ride bath. A water slide and a huge lake.

Vernon: Cosens Creek MTB Area

After a chill day cruising the Shuswap Trails we ventured to Vernon where the word was that the trails were flowy and not too technical. They turned out to be about as opposite of what we rode the day before as you could get. Above is what we found. You could ride around any of the features, but why pass up an opportunity like this? Two finger braking was getting easier.
Loam, wooden features, steeps, and rock drops. Out here in the North Okanagan the locals eat bowls of bark for breakfast. Get specific when you need to know what a trail is like. Their green trails might require a few ego checks to be cashed by the end of the day. Vernon was challenging but rewarding from top to bottom. As with any of the places we visited, there were other areas in Vernon that had easier trails, but like any proud trail steward would do, we were taken to some of their personal favorites.
Trails were well marked and it was easy to find a map and your way around. Many places I’ve been to over the years could have used a few of these posts. If you need maps, check out the North Okanagan Cycling Society.

Kamloops: Kamloops Bike Ranch

When I first signed on for this trip I expected to be in an arid desert for most of the trip. It wasn’t until Kamloops that the environment met my expectations. There are an amazing number of trails surrounding Kamloops and the freeride attitude runs deep. After a stop at the Bicycle Cafe shop and breakfast at Hello Toast we hit the local bike park. To say it was hot and dusty would be an understatement. We had a good time, checking out their large bike park with a wide variety of progressive features. We couldn’t stay long since we had to get to Whistler that evening to see the Slopestyle finals at Crankworks, but I wish we had more time to explore this legendary riding area.
Kamloops had a fine dust that made simple riding look ridiculously dramatic.
Even though Leanne lived about a mile away she had rarely ridden the park. After almost a week on the trip, she felt more confident and adventurous riding there.

Whistler: Top Of The World Trail

Whistler recently opened the Top of the World Trail to the general public. In 2003 a few friends and I wanted to go to the top but we needed a guide. Somehow it never worked out on that trip, but when I heard we were going to be able to finally do the trail I’d been waiting 9 years for, I gave myself a high five. After the initial gondola ride, one more chair takes you up the extra 1,091ft to the top. This was Kelli’s first time to the top too.
This is the scene at the entrance to Whistler’s Top of the World Alpine Trail. It seems stark and had less fanfare than I expected. That being said, as you drop in don’t get distracted by ‘The Tusk’ in the background because you’ll need to keep your eyes on the job at hand. It’s a steep entrance.
The TOTW trail starts steep, rocky and technical. You won’t drop in at high speed, unless you want a quick trip to the valley floor. From steep and technical the trail transitions to loamy alpine corners. The further down the mountain you go the more it starts to open up as you enter the fray of traditional bike park action.
One last ride for the group. It was a long but incredible week. Thanks to everyone involved!
“I,...loved Whistler. Again, the scenery was amazing - but it was more than that. It was the atmosphere of being in the Village, the excitement of Crankworx, not to mention the 5000 vertical feet of descent! It was the final ride of an incredible week with new friends. It was the culmination of all the new skills I'd been working on and the confidence I'd gained as a rider.” Leanne
Leanne on her final ride of the trip.

Words by Harlan Price
Photos by Dave Silver
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29 Comments

  • + 12
 for fuksake!, is Scotland the only country in the world that never got a summer this year !!!!!! i never looking at canada roadtrip vids/pictures again harrumph!
  • - 1
 “It's a funny thing ... often we live in a place and don't always see it for what it is or take advantage of the opportunities it provides...” Leanne Neighbor
shitty weather = no excuse bro
  • + 6
 I don't think you quite grasp how shitty it can get in sunny scotland ! But then again I do see your point
  • + 13
 goonrider, you have no idea how bad it got in britain and scotland particularly, this year.....axle deep in mud is no fun to ride in, 12deg in june and 40mph winds day after day, thousands of trees down from the 90mph storm we had in january, spent all summer rerouting trails, chainsawing trees and making bridges over bogs, and i still put in about 6 hrs riding in a week, couple that with 2 jobs and a wife to keep happy.
once you have experienced a scottish summer like this year, you will understand what it means to be replacing your drivetrain twice this year, throwing out 3 pairs of shorts due to grime wearing holes in the ass, 3 sets of brake pads this year, 5 weeks of rain every single godddamn day in june/july. its got to the point where i get excited if it is forecast to rain only half the day.

like i said "is scotland the only country in the world that never got a summer this year???" oh and you can bet your dusty ass that i haven't made any excuses, just stating the facts sucking it up and still going out riding
  • + 1
 goonrider, I grew up in Hastings. Sorry man, but coming from HB pretty much excludes you from ever talking about bad weather. I love it here, but man I miss the HB weather.
  • + 5
 Frisby Ridge blew my mind, one of the best trails I think I have ridden in BC, along with Della Creek of course!
  • + 1
 Great first quote. I have spent a ton of time in Kamloops, Penticton and Vernon, but it has only since moving to the US that I have gone back and actually biked them. Everytime I get on my bike in BC, after the fear of death has passed, I contemplate moving back to really enjoy it.
  • + 1
 Some more pics from the crew's visit to Penticton at bushpilotbiking.com/uitimate-bc-road-trip/3791 and bushpilotbiking.com/ultimate-bc-road-trip-2/3794.

Always fun taking folks out on the local rides, especially when it's old friends like Darren and Kelli! Great to see everyone loving the 'hood.
  • + 1
 Thanks for the hospitality Smoke! First rate. Penticton was one of my favorites.
  • + 1
 Sounds like a great trip. What the author left out is the fact that they only brushed the surface of the bottom 1/3 of BC. There's still 2/3 of a Province above the areas that they rode in.Then there's the Kootenies to the south east, Alberta to the east......
  • + 3
 --------------------------------------------How can I also do this 7 day tour? Details, cost etc please...Smile --------------------------------------------
  • + 1
 yes please!
  • + 2
 Actually, this itinerary is total insanity. You spend more time driving than riding. It's more of a promotional thing to showcase BC than it's a quality riding experience. You'd be much smarter to spend 2 or 3 weeks on this route, giving each destination a proper visit rather than trying to blow through it at high speed like this.

People don't realize how much riding is available in BC, but to give a rough estimate, there's probably around 10k km of singletrack available on this route alone.

At a quick guess, to do this trip fully supported, approximately $2000 per person based on 4 people.
  • + 2
 and because smoke won't self-promote - www.bushpilotbiking.com. Mr Smoke does a fantastic job and has intimate knowledge of the trails
  • + 1
 Smoke is right, the itinerary was insane and represents about 2000km of amazing scenic driving...take 2 weeks and enjoy!

Btw here are a couple of photos that somehow got missed in the article...non bike, but part of what made this an awesome trip...floating on the slocan...http://www.pinkbike.com/photo/8711984/
  • + 3
 That's bushpilotbiking.com, if you're too lazy to copy and paste.

Just because it's not often that I get to prove Lee wrong...
  • + 1
 It was a tough itinerary. We wanted to see a lot of places, but I'd definitely recommend giving yourself 2-3 days at any one place. If not more. Like I said, you could spend a week in any one of the spots. The way Smoke was talking, you could spend a month in Penticton. It was amazing anyhow. Next time I'll take the time.
  • + 1
 Hell, you can LIVE in these places and still not touch everything they have to offer. Wink

Was that houseboat rented through the Shuswap trail alliance or just arranged for you?
  • + 1
 I think the local tourism board took care of it.
  • + 1
 I have been in Vernon for two summers now and still havent managed to dragmy ass (and bike) to Kelowna, Penticton or Kamloops - I have ridden one set of the many Salmon Arm trails, ridden Frisby Ridge and around the Vernon area - I want more! And more summer! And more time off! And more friends who ride!
  • + 2
 this is epic. max respect from each trail they rode. no competetive nature, just enjoying what was layed out infront of them. be good to do a trip like this. money is no object when seeking trail wisdom right?
  • + 1
 Any close up pics of the 1 sided braking set up? I'm really interested to see how that works! Great article by the way. Gets me stoked to get out and explore more of my homeland!
  • + 1
 i love the last pic, looks like someone from scary movie is resting on the top of the mountain
  • + 1
 wow wish one day ill have the chance to ride there :-) great pics and trails
  • + 1
 man oh man the things i would do to go do this. Truly inspirational and makes me wanna go ride!
  • + 1
 Jealous. That first quote is bang on, too many people don't take advantage of what's in their backyards!
  • + 1
 enjoyed the unique vibe of Nelson aka got baked Wink
  • + 1
 MONUMENTALLY EPIC- Great pix, I'm so jealous. WOW!
  • + 1
 fernie?! pretty sure we got some rockin trails in the valley?!

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