Since moving to Canada in 2010, and becoming involved with Whistler's mountain bike scene, I have been constantly recommended places to ride throughout BC. Nelson was one that was continuously mentioned by enthusiastic riders, and naturally, my curiosity grew. I wanted to find out what the quiet town of Nelson held for mountain bikers, like myself, with big appetites for adventure. With tails of golden-lit alpine, and endless trails of rich, soft loam, it sounded like a true mountain bike mecca. When the chance came to visit this small Kootenay mountain town, I jumped upon it with a tight group of friends. We packed up the truck, and hit the long road to Nelson.
Access to the golden light of the alpine was hot topic from the start of the trip; thus, we weren’t shy to ask questions at Nelson’s two local bike shops – both extremely helpful and friendly – for informative tidbits. Local knowledge is vital to make the best of a new and foreign riding spot, and Gerick Cycles graciously provided us with it. They set us up with trail maps and useful tips for our awaiting adventure. It was not long until we were out sampling the Nelson dirt with smiles from ear to ear, like kids in a candy store with much to choose from.
The trails were everything a mountain biker could ask for. From steep, technical, slower paced trails with a plethora of testing rock rolls to high speed, fast flowing loamy epics, the trails would easily bring a grin to even the most demanding mountain bikers. However, the alpine gold was elusive, as gaining access to it was not easy. Each time we tried, we seemed to reach a dead end. We began to doubt whether these trails, high above the valleys, truly existed. Then again, more knowledge of the area was needed, and Sacred Rides bike shop had the answers for us, or more specifically, Mark Holt. Mark, an incredibly passionate mountain biker, plays an enormous role in the Nelson mountain bike community. He is the owner of Sacred Rides, and has built at least 40 trails in the surrounding area. Not only was Mark happy to help with directions, but he also took the time to take us to our main destination: the high alpine for a golden sunrise ride, descending 6000 feet from the peak of Baldface mountain, and right into the town of Nelson.
One other key figure within Nelson’s biking commune is Leah Brown. Leah, who is very friendly, runs a shuttle and guiding service, Footsteps Eco Adventures. And as a fellow rider, she is incredibly knowledgeable on how to use your time most effectively on the trails, no matter what level of riding one is at. Anyone can easily tell she lives for the mountains and trails, for she not only exude her love of the mountains, but her passion is also infectious to those around her. You can catch a shuttle with Footsteps to the top of Powerslave, the infamous trail from the game-changing movie, Lifecycles, every Tuesday and Thursday for $15. It is a perfect way to meet the people within this tight, but welcoming mountain bike realm. There are also plenty of custom shuttle options, if you prefer your own means of travel.
Even though we had our moments of doubt in seeking the elusive alpine, everything seemingly fell into place. Our determination in chasing the gorgeous hue of the sunset soon became a reality: an unforgettable and breathtaking reality. Nelson is, indeed, a mountain biker’s utopia. The earthy trails creatively built with maximum fun in mind, the majestic peaks of the mountains, and aurous-lit alpine was just as I imagined, perhaps even better. Nelson, despite being a small, quiet town, offers more than one can imagine: laidback vibes, friendly locals, a passionate community of mountain bikers, and a heavenly network of trails for any mountain biking fanatic.