Catharine Pendrel on Digging for Silver Linings This Season & Building Trails for Kids and New Riders

May 22, 2020
by Sarah Moore  

Words by Catharine Pendrel

When you need to find a silver lining you usually can. For me, the loss of racing and travel this summer meant having to reorient my purpose and goals in a big way. Rather than striving for an Olympic spot and World Cup podium performances, I had to dial my mental and training intensity back, way back and find my motivation and value outside of racing.

I was president of our local bike association, the KBRA from 2016-2018. While in this position a local kids’ coach, Chris Martin from DMB mountain bike coaching, approached me about creating a kids’ league and creating opportunities for kids to try mountain bike racing. Naturally, it was an easy sell and we got to work creating an annual 6-week skills and race series that has sold out the past two seasons.

Catharine during a kids league session

One of the biggest challenges to hosting kids’ events for us in hilly Kamloops was actually having the appropriate terrain for our 70 varied ability kids, aged 7-12 so last year I approached the city of Kamloops about building some new trails near my home. Normally, building trails is a multi-month-to-year process of consulting stakeholders and getting approval, but the city of Kamloops actually had an area designated for beginner bike trails just waiting for the right group to develop. It was like being gifted a new bike and I was already dreaming about what we could do with it. With the help of my neighbour Martin, a kids’ league parent and volunteer trail builder, and the support of the KBRA we got right to work that fall laying out the design and putting tools in the ground.

Catharine and Martin. Trail designers and lead builders

We really wanted to host one of our Kids League events there this spring… which was maybe a bit ambitious with Olympic qualifiers and the work still needing to be done, but hey I’m an optimist.

And then, before the snow had even melted, Covid arrived and all of our daily realities and priorities were altered… Races cancelled, organized kids’ sports cancelled, staying home in your community ordered, and bicycles discovered! With kids and parents in British Columbia at home from work, but still able to recreate outside alone or as a family, I have never seen so many people out riding. My street had a bike jump at the end of every driveway and kids racing back and forth all day. Biking became more than ever our release, our normalcy, our escape from stress whether riding inside or out.

Obviously, now is far from a perfect time in the world, but it became the perfect time for building trails for kids and newer riders, so that’s what I’ve been up to. My neighbour Martin and I got back to digging this spring, each tackling different sections of the 1.1 km course. More members of the KBRA and kids league signed up to smoothen and widen various sections and local companies wanted to help too so we got bridges built, lumber donated and even a mini excavator and operator loaned for four days. Every day while out digging we had kids ride by chasing the painted rocks my young neighbour Aliya had painted for us for course marking and parents telling us how great it was having trails added to their neighbourhood. When the world feels so uncertain and gloomy it has been a huge dose of sunshine giving kids something new and helping them discover more terrain by bicycle. At the moment it feels like one of the best ways I can contribute to my community and it has helped my head as well by having a new goal alongside training for a still uncertain return of racing.

We’re still working on signage and expanding what we have, but when the world opens up and you can come for a ride in Kamloops, make sure you check out our little track at the Dufferin Wetlands and if you are interested in what it takes to start a kids league in your town check out our KBRA Kids league Facebook page or send me a note on Instagram (@cpendrel) or Facebook Catharine Pendrel.

KBRA Kids Zone - Dufferin Park mountain biking trails


  • 16 2
 Great ambassador for the sport. Anyone not picking up a rake and putting something back in to the trails with all the spare time most have on their hands has probably missed a key part of mtb.
  • 10 0
 Such a class act! She so often sets the bar for other athletes to follow...
  • 6 0
 My kids ride this 2-3 times per week as we live about a kilometer from the trail. It also happens to be just behind their school so its going to be excellent once school resumes. Thanks Chris, Catherine, and all who helped build this awesome little trail system!
  • 4 0
 It is great to see people building easy trails. In another life when I built trails -it was always the green trails that got the most use and compliments. It opens the sport up to kids and beginners. Every trail does not have too be a diamond!
  • 6 0
 Great job you guys! Can’t wait to bring my kids up from Kelowna to check it out.
  • 7 0
 Nice. Makes me want to pack my family up and move to Kamloops.
  • 7 0
 When you include this, the Kamloops Bike Ranch, DMB coaching, the plethora of trails, and the excellent weather, I can't think of a better place to raise kids if you're in the mountain bike community. So glad we moved here.
  • 5 0
 Good to see someone being so productive during this enforced.......whatever you want to call it....

Class act indeed(s). Two thumbs up CP.
  • 5 0
 Kudos to Catherine and Martin for building some quality trail in the neighborhood. I'm glad that the neighbors appreciate it too.
  • 3 0
 So appreciative of the these trails. My son and I ride them a couple of times a week. They are perfect and I can’t wait to continue to visit them as they evolve.
  • 4 0
 Catharine is a gem.
  • 3 0
 Nice work Catherine, Martin and Kamloops
  • 1 0
 Used to live in Pineview with my kids, they would have loved this! Might have to drive up and visit. Thanks for all the hard work getting this project started.

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