Growing Up Boldly Unscripted // Kamloops, BC
By Ted Morton
Kamloops, BC is known for being one of the birthplaces of Freeriding, it's a downright mecca in the mountain bike world, a right of passage for any rider. Kamloops has been a staple of the MEC Canadian National Enduro Series for the past three years, and some riders say it's "better than the shore."
With the recent explosion of everything 'enduro', it's been an interesting ride to see how this transition has changed this world-class riding destination. Kamloops is home to five distinct riding areas, Kenna, Pineview, Lac du Bois, the Kamloops Bike Ranch and Harper Mountain. The latter two riding areas helped shaped decades of freeriders from the early fro-riders to the likes of Matt Hunter, Graham Agassiz, Dylan Sherrard and more recently the next generation, Taylor and Jesse Munden and Lane Bodor. A recent generation of dirt-jumpers and freeriders are lucky to have honed their skills on Kamloops' unique terrain and in North America's largest municipal bike park. But the town is more than just freeride and jumps.
The 'Helly' family has been moulded by their towns affinity for everything mountain biking. Father Frank Helly grew up riding motocross and mountain bikes, and is probably one of the original riders in Kamloops. He was shredding slopes since before v-brakes and you can still find his name amongst the top ten on Strava, with times from the apps early inception. His wife, Sue Helly, is one of the city's main parks/recreation and horticultural experts, you can find her eagerly sprinting up trails in Pineview or Kenna. This family doesn't play hockey, soccer or baseball, their rinks are singletrack, their fields are dirtjumps, everything about their recreation, happiness and why they connect with cycling is based on Kamloops. Kamloops is a rare gem, very few towns have riding right from the back door. At my house in Pineview valley, I have access to over 30kms of trail without needing to drive. The other major draw for Kamloops - it's a real city, we have all the amenities and a strong coffee culture!
Their two boys, Jeremy and Johnny likely need no introduction. Jeremy (16) has been killing the high school xc league, while Johnny (14) has been routinely cracking top 20 pro times since he was 12. I've been seeing these boys on the trails since they were 9, always pedalling. They've not ever known life without mountain bikes, and that's a true treasurer. Just think about that for a second these young professional athletes have always had access to world-class riding. It's just "the way it is", wake up every morning and shred! Call it enduro, XC, DH, whatever, the kids don't care, they just want to ride. Imagine growing up with facilities for every discipline a pedal-kick from your front door. It also is pretty neat when Matt Hunter lives down the street and frequents your local bike shop, the Bicycle Cafe. The town of Kamloops has created a culture of cycling that is multi-generational.
Enduro is here. The Helly brothers are likely part of the first-ever "Enduro Generation", that seems weird to say, but it's true. They're exploring every inch of Kamloops, BC and this year, crossing the border to compete. I owe a lot of thanks to the Helly family because when they're not racing in the Canadian National Enduro Series, they're helping me prepare for events, whether it's course marking, prepping, or just offering advice they're there to help. Sue and Frank are our most reliable volunteers, they base their entire summer off of travelling around the events.
So, why should you move to Kamloops? If you want to ride every day and avoid the mountain tax (what you pay for living in a ski-town or similar), then Kamloops is your place. We've got everything you could ever want, the only hard thing is trying to keep up with the locals as Frank and his boys will leave you in the dust. It's time for you to live your life Boldly Unscripted!
If you're looking to come to explore this beautiful and booming mountain bike destination, start planning your trip with Mountain Biking BC
and Tourism Kamloops
, and be sure to send some love to the crew at the Kamloops Performance Cycling Centre via Trailforks.