Endless Biking: Roots

Apr 15, 2014
by Danielle Baker  
 
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Endless Biking is celebrating 10 years of building riders, as part of their celebration they are sponsoring ten articles that revolve around the fundamentals of their business; bikes, community and learning.



THE ROOTS



The roots of Endless Biking push back beyond their inaugural camps in 2004 to the early 90’s and days of riding in hiking boots and chasing buffalo on borrowed bikes. Raised in non-mountain biking families, Kelli and Darren, owners and operators of Endless Biking, both still remember the moment that riding came into their lives and the profound change it brought with it.

In Nelson, British Columbia, Kelli remembers a purposeful adventure on borrowed bikes into the mountains that made her both want to puke – on the climb – and feel the spark of addiction – on the singletrack. Immediately she began to dream about the feeling of being a kid again and it was not long after that she got her very first bank loan and purchased her very first mountain bike.

bigquotesMy family thought I had a boyfriend who beat me because I would always come home with all these bruises everywhere. They did not understand mountain biking.

Making the transition from organized school sports to a ‘fringe’ sport that your parents can neither watch nor participate in can be a challenge and often the support and encouragement is lacking. With little main stream media attention available at the time Kelli’s conversations with her family often ended with “Oh. So, you’re crazy.”

Two years later, and unknown to Kelli at the time, Darren would suddenly and surprisingly give up his career towards a hockey scholarship and take off down a parallel path. Getting back to his family roots, Darren discovered riding in Waskesiu, Saskatchewan, chasing buffalo with friends.

  If you look closely you will see some dreads under that helmet. Darren in his first ever mountain bike race.

bigquotesMountain biking gives us a chance to go be outside, be ourselves, go play, learn, and have fun while we overcome obstacles and have successes.

The freedom and creativity of mountain biking was a direct departure from the rigid world of organized hockey for Darren. After accidentally winning a cross-country race he found himself suddenly on his way to racing at a national level. He recognized the structure of scheduled training and committed race weekends, much like hockey had been, and this pulled him towards freeride instead. At the time he did not necessarily know what freeride was, “I was just trying to figure out if I could ride up something, down something or jump off of it.”

While Darren was finding something that had been missing in his life with riding, it was hard for his parents to embrace his lifestyle change with open arms. From their perspective he had abandoned a hockey scholarship and school to ride bikes. They were supportive as all parents are when they believe their children are making mistakes; they smiled and cheered him on while asking, “When are you going to get a real job?”

bigquotesAs an industry it has been a challenge to rebrand mountain biking as a sport that really can be for everyone.

It was not until Kelli and Darren’s families attended a race and saw the mountain bike community in action and specifically heard so many people cheering for them, that they realized they had something productive and healthy going on in this new world they had discovered. And around the same time on the same race circuit Kelli and Darren discovered - with much help from their friends - each other.

  Kelli in her freeride and racing glory. Photo: Tyler Maine/Dave Silver/Jason Manchester

Through her career Kelli has been featured in many films including 100% Woman, Dirt Divas and Wheel Woman, as well as TV shows including Ride Guide and Drop In. Her personal career highlights include an impressive racing history, BC Cup Overall 4X champ, 5th place in Slope Sistair and the development, management and coaching of the EB Chickas women’s race team. Not the least of her accomplishments is winning the overall BC Bike Race Challenge Category. . . while pregnant!

  The EB Chickas, Kelli's women's race team, at their first race in Kamloops in 2007.

After winning his first cross-country race Darren went on to hold an elite licence in 4X, cross-country, dual slalom, and downhill at the same time, before becoming the Norco Factory Team manager. Eventually he pursued free ride, started shooting with Ian Hylands and Dave Silver, starred in the first season of Drop-In, and appeared in some Ride Guide episodes, as well as, the movies Second Coming, Self Titled, Hidden Pleasures and the Kranked series. When he and Mike Kinrade were the first to show up at the Red Bull Rampage course back in 2001, Darren became the first rider to descend and says he will never forget the look on Todd Barber’s face when they all realized the event was actually doable.

  Darren's passion for riding very quickly took him in the direction of freeride. Photo: Dave Silver

Both Kelli and Darren agree that despite all their strong biking resumes, it is instructing and guiding that are the career highlights for them personally. Kelli describes the first time she realized she was being paid to be a mountain bike instructor “I will never forget it, I was blown away by how amazing it was and how much I was learning and growing as a person. It was everything I could ever ask for in any job, ever.”

Views: 24,678    Faves: 80    Comments: 10


  In 2002 Darren shattered both of his heels during a cliff drop attempt on an episode of Drop In.

When Darren shattered his heels filming an episode of Drop In in 2002 it effectively ended his riding career and pushed him to consider how his involvement with mountain biking would continue in a new phase of his life. “I still loved mountain biking, what it did for me, for the community and what I thought it could do for society.” The universe was conspiring, as it wasn’t long after that Kelli decided to go all in, quitting all her jobs and committing fully to her race season. Then she broke her elbow. Together with another business partner, Ken Maude, Kelli and Darren began to discuss business opportunities.

bigquotesThe idea behind Endless Biking was never about getting rich, it was something we could do that we loved and at the same time help make a difference in the world.

The idea of Endless Biking began to form as a business but also as a plan to ignite in others what mountain biking has ignited for them; to help get more people on bikes, to connect them with new opportunities, and community. Kelli and Darren believe that by putting people on mountain bikes they are discovering something in life that can teach them to overcome challenges and really become inspired, energetic and fun people. And that is really what mountain biking is all about.

The misperception of what this sport is unfortunately can make developing your own business challenging. For many “mountain biking” is the series of terrible 80’s images that are perpetually found on google, the news article about someone dying, the television coverage of Red Bull Rampage or that friend of a friend who broke their arm that time. The old adage ‘you never get a second chance to make a first impression’ is true when you are proposing your mountain bike instruction based business plan to a bank manager. Even in 2004 Kelli and Darren still found themselves explaining that biking is not crazy, it is not extreme and it is not nuts, in order to try and secure financial backing for their new company.

This misunderstanding of mountain biking by the general public ignited a personal mission for Kelli and Darren to make it mainstream and to legitimize it as a sport. They describe the early days of starting Endless Biking, “neither of us had ever felt so much passion and drive for something."

Endless Biking with 2012 Shimano Saint launch in Whistler British Columbia
  Kelli and Darren are always all smiles when they are on their bikes, especially when they have the opportunity to share their knowledge with others. Photo: Sterling Lorence

bigquotesRiding has had such a positive impact on us and on the people around us that we are all in, we want to continue growing the sport and make the pie bigger for all of us.

Now with Endless Biking in its tenth year of operation, Kelli and Darren skillfully balance raising their daughter and managing their business. They offer camps, classes and guided tours and have touched the lives of over 6500 people. As they have matured, their goal to get more people on bikes has not changed, but has become more dynamic. Their primary motivation still is to share that initial spark they both felt with others, but another important focus now is about involving more people in our industry, creating a bigger pie to allow more work within it and to retain integral people to grow it.

  The words "Mountain Biking Feeds My Family" may never be more true.

In years past Kelli and Darren grew their own roots in the mountain bike industry but in the last ten, they have, as Endless Biking, become a pillar of our community and a force for change towards a future that will allow mountain biking to become more accepted, recognized and more easily accessed by everyone.

bigquotesWe honestly believe mountain biking will make the world a better place and to this day that is what drives us.

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50 Comments

  • + 21
 I will never forget seeing Darren ride up a set of stairs on his first DH bike and air out the top. ( Rocky DH Race blue and yellow so sweet ) We were in Inveremere out jibbing around one day and I was a wheely drop guy until that point. You changed my outlook on what bikes could do and have been a top buddy ever since. You and Kelly have worked so hard at making your business work and you deserve to rock it until your bodies say NO MORE. Love you guys.
  • + 1
 Thanks for the kind words!

DB@EB
  • + 9
 Kudos for being the first on the block, breaking trail, leading the way, figuring it out.......real leaders! hope its endless.
  • + 1
 Thanks for the kind words!

DB@EB
  • + 5
 Congratulations! 10 years of turning your passion into a business and lifestyle is worth celebrating. You guys are fantastic and I would recommend Endless Biking to anyone. See you in the Cariboo!
  • + 1
 Yeehaw! Ride the the Cariboo!

Cheers!

DB@EB
  • + 3
 Kelli that gap over the car doesn't seem to be going great. How did that turn out? Sick no footer on the right that's better than I ever got 'em! Danielle awesome writing as always! Thanks for the great morning read looking forward to the other 9!
  • + 2
 Kelli has the car gap on lock-down, she's diving in to get all of the tranny for the next feature, sniper-like focus... One of the few girls who had it dialled!

Cheers!

DB@EB
  • + 1
 Nice DB after I posted my q I looked again and got the sense that that is what's actually going on.
  • + 3
 when I first started mountain biking I had joined endless biking and I will never forget being taught by the endless crew. I remember my first ride, it took me 20 minutes to get down my first trail but my teacher named mark had helped me all the way down he showed me how to handle roots and rock, how to have good posture and take turns. i probably fell four or five times on the first run but i will never forget it because endless biking showed me my passion and they helped me all the way though and I still do there week long tour camps not because I need support I could easily do them by myself but the atmosphere is so positive your constantly around people with the same passions as you and it makes you into a better biker; it really makes you feel like you belong...
  • + 1
 Thanks for the props!

DB@EB
  • + 2
 A couple of months ago, I found Endless Biking through a random search of outfits offering guided tours of the North Shore. EB had exactly what i was looking for, and me and another riding buddy booked a four-day rip covering NS, Sunshine Coast, Squamish and Coast Gravity Bike Park. I have been looking forward to the trip (early May), and after reading this article, I'm even more confident that we picked the right company to go with. Seems we will be in good hands, judging not only from the article, but the comments from people who know and admire what Darren and Kelli have done for the mountain bike community. Darren and Kelli - we're looking forward to meeting you! - Ryan and Rob (Hartford, CT)
  • + 1
 Stoked to ride soon!

DB@EB
  • + 3
 Brutal video. I've rented bikes from Endless, and also a guide to show me around the north shore. Great people there. Really appreciate businesses like these strengthening the mtb community. Keep it up!
  • + 1
 Thanks for your kind words and continued support!
  • + 2
 Great story guys. Was very lucky to visit BC and endless biking a few years ago and ride the infamous north shore trails with my guide Brett and a really lovely Rocky Mountain bike. Trip of a lifetime, hope to make it back someday for the bc bikerace. Well done guys, some setup you have established but a few years on and much to my disbelief it's catching up on our side of the pond. Stunning country which every mountain biker should experience!
  • + 1
 Thanks! We hope to ride again soon!
  • + 2
 Back in the day on a biking road trip through Inveremere with my 2 boys, Kyle and Kurt, we stopped into a local bike shop to ask about trails. Darren was there and asked us along on a evening ride and then back to his yard to checkout the skinnies he'd built. Darren and Kelli bring a passion to our sport, thanks for giving and living the dream. Cheers to many years of success and " Endless Biking"
  • + 1
 Hah, sometimes it's just easier to just join in the ride than draw another map lol. You guys had the good vibes going and I'm really glad we met that day Malcolm! Brotherhood for life!

DB@EB
  • + 4
 You guys are awesome and It's great that you are a part of the North Shore community.
  • + 1
 Can we get a group hug?! Smile Thanks for your kind words!

DB@EB
  • + 3
 Thank You guy's, for sticking to your passion, and giving back to the people. Hope your business stays around for 20 more years.
  • + 1
 Thanks for the encouragement!
  • + 1
 In a situation like that, and in the majority of downhill crashes is the person better of just trying to ride it out? I am not trying to be condescending or act like I know the best way to handle a situation like that, but are you better off just trying to land with the bike under you and hoping the suspension negates some of the injuries you would have? I by no means ride anything at that level but I've seen a lot of videos where people bail or sketch out in a situation like that. Would you be better just trying to just land on the flat or something? I've never really bailed off a bike before and wonder when it would be better or worse to do that. I have crashed countless times though haha
  • + 1
 Bike was diving due to clipping handlebar on wall, I would've landed on my head and it would've been much worse.

I agree in letting bike take impact if you can, just wasn't the case in this instance.....

Cheers,
DB@EB
  • + 2
 Endless Biking is Awesome! I went to their summer camps ever since I started mountain biking! Definitely the best way to spend a summer! Thanks for all the fun times! See you this summer!
  • + 1
 Thanks! Looking forward to a ride again soon!
  • + 1
 i remember watching that season on tv and seeing that crash that was intense good to have every there to help get Darren to the hospital fast..Nice that he's riding again doing what he loves..KEEP ON RIDING
  • + 1
 One love!

DB@EB
  • + 2
 he had a bad crash in a DH race at Bear Mtn , i remember him being carried off the hill , nice to hear and see he is still in the sport
  • + 2
 Can't take me out that easily... it was just a tree! lol

That is why we love mountain biking, it teaches us to overcome challenges in life!

Still going strong....
DB@EB
  • + 2
 Awesome article and fantastic experience with Endless last September. Memories of a life time what more can you ask for, cant wait to get back out with Endless!
  • + 1
 Great stuff. We hope to ride again soon!
  • + 2
 What a lovely story, personally though I couldn't do it - I'd be scared of seeing the wife blast past me, flat strap on a dh section
  • + 1
 Um, are you sure?! Park the ego and embrace the moment! Chasing beautiful women, who can shred, down the trail is all right with me any day!

DB@EB
  • + 1
 Haha may just do that, great story to read
  • + 3
 Grabbed one of the shuttles to Fromme on Saturday from Endless, good group of people there
  • + 1
 Thanks for coming by on Saturday!
  • + 4
 Endless Biking!! Miss you guys! Great times in Whistler and China.
  • + 1
 We love you China! Thanks for the good times! We hope to have many more!

DB@EB
  • + 2
 Darren and Kelli are amazing partners in the local riding community. We are lucky to have them. Cheers to many more years.
  • + 1
 Thanks for the kind words!
  • + 3
 More stories like this please. Good stuff all around.
  • + 1
 Congrats Darren!!!! Gracias por los ''Buenos Tiempos'' Long live and all the best to your family and business!!! I'll be back up there soon...
  • + 1
 Good times! Smile

I hope to ride again soon!

DB@EB
  • + 2
 Totally inspirational! Keep being you
  • + 2
 awesome duo, great to see articles like this
  • + 1
 Thanks for the props!

DB@EB
  • + 1
 No link?
  • + 5
 Www.endlessbiking.com

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