Bike Big White's opening day is set and excitement levels are high as we watch the progress of the build. The chairlift that will service the bike park is open for alpine hiking. So one Friday morning, I head up for a sneak peek of the soon-to-be bike park, eyeing the smooth and buff berms visible from the chair and itching to hit the dirt.
Walking the finished sections to scope it all out, I was thinking this is one of the best green trails I've ever seen—smooth and flowy, with line options for beginners as well as the more experienced rider. Being in the alpine, the view from the top of the trail is truly unique, as you can see the dirt wind its way down the face of the mountain. Not only is the view fantastic, but it's really the only trail of its kind where someone new to downhill can see exactly where they're going and what to expect.
I know that people who have never been on a downhill trail before are going to see this and think: "I can do this. This is my time to learn."
View from the Bullet Express Chair over the green flow trail Pry Bar - open to the public August 4, 2017.
Of all the programs we wanted to bring into the bike park, it was important to me from the start that we had a women's program, geared towards beginners. There are chicks out there that see the opening of Bike Big White as their time to learn. It could be because they feel comfortable at Big White after visiting in the winter, or it could be that it’s closer than other parks, or that the trails are new—whatever the reason if it’s their time, I don’t want them to have it pass them by.
So we locked it in. Our Women's Intro to Downhill camp. Now, we just needed to get the word out. We'd need videos and photos to show women what to expect from this camp and get them pumped. The only problem - we were still weeks away from Opening Day, so we didn't have a finished beginner trail where we could get any footage.
Three weeks to go until opening day, I get the call. "Our trail crew has been working long days, finishing up hand-shaping on completed sections and continuing to build out trail connections so there is smooth top-to-bottom access. There's still plenty of work to be done, and completed trail sections are connected only by rough temporary access routes, but it's safe and rideable. We're good to go so I put out the word out that we're looking for staff female riders to come test the trails and be part of our practice camp film shoot."
The work squad is on point with this rad group of shredding chicks! Vicki (Bike and Ski School), Elle (Retail), Katie (Sales and Marketing), Lora (Central Reservations), Heather (Patrol), and Kat (Graphics and Marketing).
While we've all worked at Big White for years, we all come from different departments and some of us had never even met before. The one thing we had in common is that we're all chicks that love biking! It was a little awkward at first—playing out the roles of beginners in a women's camp, walking through the basics in the Village Centre—but as we headed to the chair, stoke levels were high. We loaded our bikes into the carriers, and the vibe really changed. The excitement was real. It was a sunny clear day in the alpine and we were just a bunch of babes heading out biking. You couldn't have asked for a better day.
This was a once in a lifetime opportunity. We were going to be some of the first riders to put our tires to the pristine berms, and buff trails without a braking bump in sight. More than a few shameless selfies were taken.
Here's the thing. You get a bunch of chicks that shred together and the vibe is magic—you laugh, joke, and bond on a different level than you do anywhere else. Maybe it’s because a lot of us are into these extreme sports and we’ve become used to being ‘one of the boys’ in a lot of cases. And while it's great that the guys that are into biking are always so inclusive to the girls—there's always this push to progress, and not use the excuse of being a girl to stop you from playing hard—when it's just the girls, the progression is still there, but you don't feel like you need to be 'on' all the time. It's a completely different and a relaxing space to be in.
It's super important for women to have a good introduction to downhill. You want to feel welcome and be in an environment that lets you progress in a safe but challenging way.—Katie
The great thing about going out with a girl crew is I give myself time to learn and observe how other girls are doing it! Rather than just go, go, go. We're built different to guys, our minds work differently, it makes sense for girls to ride and learn together.—Lora
It was clear that by the time we came in for patio beers and burgers, everyone had forgotten that we were filming. They weren't putting it on for the camera. This was just a group of women who had a great day in the park and wanted to hang out together and enjoy the moments they just shared.—Natalia
So what happened when we took five experienced bikers and went through a Women's Intro to Downhill camp? We all felt a little nervous and awkward at first. Not knowing each other, wondering what we had gotten ourselves into. We started to relax and feel comfortable with each other as we went through the basics. We felt that anxious excitement as we rode up the lift. We shared the rush and thrill of those first turns together. Any apprehension or self-consciousness was gone as we shared the incredible energy that was building. We felt an instant bond that lasted far beyond the dirt of the trails. We created memories that will stay with us and bring us back to the trails time and time again.
Upon reflection, we set out to pretend to share this amazing first time experience—and what happened is that we actually had this amazing first-time experience which made us that much more stoked to share it with everyone.
Our entire day was edited down to 45 seconds and a few photos, but in the end, it was so much bigger than that. These few frames captured one of the best days of biking I've had. I definitely ended the day with a girl crush on these awesome biking babes!
If you're thinking about downhill biking and aren't sure where to start...it's right here! I hope that other women out there are excited to come and shred too. If you see us out there, say hi, and come for a lap.