Sometimes I worry that perhaps we’ve only painted half the picture. We’ve all shared stories of a madman wandering wildly through the sage brush and swinging his rusted flat head to carve mountains into takeoffs. But we all stop there. We never take a moment to consider what makes Brad Stuart tick. And that bothers me, because Brad is one of the most fascinating people I know.
At 36 years old, Brad rides faster, jumps higher and is more enthusiastic about cycling than anyone I've met. He has a supportive wife and a two year old son. He also owns a house and works a full time job. Most normal people are incapable of allowing all those things to coexist in the flawless way that Brad does. But he loves riding his bike as much as he loves anything else, so he makes it work. He looks at everything around him with a child-like affection and he knows that he only has one shot at life, so he spends his time wisely and he pushes hard for progression.
That lifestyle produces an infectious energy that can be seen and felt in anyone who spends time with Brad. Simply being around him makes me want to work harder and be better, share more and be nicer to people. I can especially see the truth in that when I’m around Brad’s two year old son, Kaden. He wanders around the driveway with the same big smile that Brad wears. He shares whatever rocks and flowers he can find in the bushes, and he tries to help load the trucks when we leave the house to go riding. Brad's Bike Park
Being such a bad ass and generally decent fella for so many years presented Brad with an interesting opportunity in the fall of 2010. The city of Kamloops realized the size of cycling in our community and decided that our local park, the Bike Ranch, was in need of a makeover beginning with the jump park at the bottom. After checking with the locals, it was clear that Brad would be the man for the job.
Years without proper maintenance had rendered the Bike Ranch helpless against the violence of the summer sun. Thousands of skids and cases had reduced the jumps to oddly misshapen piles of moon dust. But in only 4 days with a bobcat, Brad transformed the dusty barren landscape into a picture perfect jump park with rows on rows of carefully sculpted doubles. We finished off that season with a fantastic session and put our bikes away for the winter, wondering what the world would be like if Brad were working in the Bike Ranch all the time.
The following spring, Brad was given a full time city job as the official grounds keeper at the Kamloops Bike Ranch, and he has held that position for the last three seasons. In his time at the Ranch Brad has transformed the landscape from a network of dry and dusty single tracks into a world class training facility. He has opened a foam pit, a pump track, a dual slalom course, as well as the most scenic and enjoyable uphill trails in the valley.
Brad’s remodeling of the Ranch means that any rider, of any skill level, riding any style of bike, can hang out in the park and enjoy themselves. But perhaps the greatest feature of his efforts goes beyond the manual labor performed in that white clay valley. What a lot of people seem to overlook is the sense of community Brad has instilled in the people who ride there. They are always keen to help and always smiling. Always willing to share their tips or lend a hand with shoveling. And always ready to share a story – kind of like Brad is. NO BRAD NO RIDE
Simply put, Brad is an overlooked cog in our community. Aggy said it really well at the end of Stength In Numbers. “We owe it to trail builders for every smile that they put on our faces when we ride our bikes.” In Kamloops, the majority of us owe brad for those smiles.
When I see a group of kids ripping laps through the dirt jumps or a mom and her two daughters pedaling around the pump track, I know that is happening because of Brad. When kids are under rotating back flips into the shelter of the foam pit, and fathers are shuttling laps with their sons, I know they enjoy those luxuries because of Brad’s hard work.
I wouldn't be riding at the level I do today if it weren't for Brad pushing me along the way, and I'm sure that many others in Kamloops could say the same. Brad has worked with the community to build exactly what they want to ride and redefined how much fun they can have on their bikes. He is pushing people to realize their potential and showing them the baby steps along the way. He is making riding happen for people in a big way, and there isn’t a better man for the job.
Thanks for everything, Bradley!
Keep up with Dylan between columns by following him on The Kona Cog.
Banner images by Blake Jorgenson.