June-sanity!

Jul 12, 2011 at 15:56
by Johnny Smoke  


It seems like every spring, everyone complains about the weather. The usual term andied about these parts is "June-uary." Well, June just happens to be my favourite month for riding. Ultra long days, the flowers are out, the trails are super tacky with minimal dust, and the snow has melted enough to allow for some decent vertical. Maybe that's why I prefer to call it "June-sanity," as the adventures we get up to during the last month of spring tend to be in the top rides of the year.

June Smoke Room Shots
Trying to compensate for something with those tires?

Here's a typical example. As the winter did run a bit long, we decided to get some late spring cleaning done on a fairly big zone in the south Okanagan. Camping on the summit seemed to be the best bet, as we could clear both sides of the ridge on the Saturday afternoon, and then spend Father's Day shredding laps and racking up some vertical. Camping out at 6000' is a good test of whether or not winter is over as anything else I can think of, so there you have it.

June Smoke Room Shots
Ride softly and carry a big saw...

I was a bit late due to some exploding dog issues in the van (my daughter fed my dog a couple dozen oatmeal cookies without my knowledge. Happy Fathers Day!), so I didn't get up until the late afternoon. I met the boys at the bottom and set up the shuttle for the next day, then ran the east side trail with Andrew and his saw. Minimal damage from this past winter meant that we got things cleared in a couple of hours, and actually managed to clear the trail AND beat a couple of other unencumbered riders down. Can I just say thanks to Dakine for providing a Builders Pack? Andrew is shredding hard with that thing. That's a serious saw, not a farm saw there.

June Smoke Room Shots
The morning after.

With the chores done and the shuttles set for the morning, we proceeded to "camp" hard until about 2 am. Which was just enough time to get a few winks in before the sun woke us up at about 7. Even though it came up at 5:30.

June Smoke Room Shots
This trail ain't big enough for the two of us...

Barb and some other locals were meeting us at the bottom of the west side at 9, so after a quick breakfast (hurry up, Andrew) we cracked off our first 4500' of the day. The top was still a little slick from the dew overnight, but the air was incredibly clear and promised a nice warm day of big laps.

June Smoke Room Shots
Start your morning right.

Some of the riders in the first group had a limited time frame and had to jet after the retrieval, plus the second group wanted to hit the west side first anyway, so we made the long drive up to hit the west side a second time. The second time around is always better, as you can really let things fly with some confidence. The greasy sections up top had also dried out somewhat, and even the woodwork was drying up a bit.

June Smoke Room Shots
Round 2.

Although the light wasn't with us this lap, it was much more memorable for the pace we held on to. Having had our inspection run, we were able to lead the fresh riders down at a ridiculous pace.

June Smoke Room Shots
Just say no to crack.

Also, Andrew finally woke up and got it together so we got to stop waiting for him.

June Smoke Room Shots
How many dogs do you have, anyway?

Most of the first group had to leave after that, but the second group that met us at the top had also left a shuttle vehicle at the base of the east side, so we took the third run down the steep and gnar to Oliver. This trail is WAY different, starting in some large old growth Interior Douglas Fir, and then dropping in to a zone of huge Ponderosa Pine and small cliffs. That upper section has some truly amazing loam sections, and some coastal sized timber to play with too.

June Smoke Room Shots
How many riders can you see?

It's one of the steeper trails I know, and it's a real challenge to how you manage your speed. It's not that it's really that tough, it's that it's nearly impossible to bleed your speed off once you attain it, so you need to be pretty conservative in how you approach things. You can stay pretty aggressive in the upper sections, but as you descend it starts to get steeper, rockier, and sketchier. I like to stop and smell the flowers before carrying on too far.

June Smoke Room Shots
Cute couple.

From the halfway point, you get these amazing views, although you'd never know it. You tend to be kind of focused on the task at hand.

June Smoke Room Shots
French Jonny gets a grip.

Actually, it's from stopping to take pictures that I've even noticed how exposed some sections are. You get a hint of the steepness in these shots, but you'd never notice it when you're riding. When it's a steep, technical line like you get so often on this trail, you tend to ignore the massive sidehill that you're on. Maybe that's why there's been a few ugly incidents on this trail that required heli evacuations.

June Smoke Room Shots
Look out for that giant flower!

You can actually see the hospital clearly below here, but with absolutely no vehicle access it may as well be 50 miles to help. Ahh, the joys of risk vs. reward. Still, I'm glad to be riding here in the relatively cool and moist weather of June. Come July, and this is way to bony and loose to be much fun.

June Smoke Room Shots
Jonny still has a good handle on things.

The day was getting on, but we had to go and retrieve vehicles so that meant that a lucky few of us could get yet another lap in. With fatigue setting in, it was back for another run down the west side.

June Smoke Room Shots
Last call, Happy Hour is now enforced by law.


Again, it's such a joy to hit this stuff over and over, and with such ideal conditions. It being our third time down today, we really got loose.

June Smoke Room Shots
Greasy gets loose in the dust.

By the time you're reading this, it's a few weeks later and these lines are baked hard and mega dusty. You can see how dry conditions are already, and this is the day after a fairly good rain.

June Smoke Room Shots
What is wrong with that bike?
June Smoke Room Shots
Racking up the vertical, and running out of daylight.

Also, the days are already getting shorter making it a big challenge to get this much vertical in a day. Not that my hands could handle much more. After 5 runs in 24 hours on my hardtail, I was spent. For those of you keeping track, that's 22 500' of descending.

June Smoke Room Shots
Big runs lead to....

There you have it, why June was my favourite month. Except that now it's July and I have a new favourite month.

June Smoke Room Shots
...Even bigger smiles.

Until next time, keep the chain oiled and be careful who you pick up in the van...

June Smoke Room Shots
A Madman and his Magna-Doodle...
Must Read This Week






15 Comments

  • + 7
 Such an amazing zone.. The Southern Okanagan is off the hook!
  • + 1
 Should be over in the Okanagan sometime next year - can't wait. Will be checking out some of the trails and Silverstar if the wife allows! Will also be doing a bit of a recce as the wife is Canadian so a move from the UK may be on the cards in the near future anyway. From what I've seen the MTB scene in the valley looks great - really proactive guys (and gals).
  • + 1
 What a great weekend, glad i took part of it !! Same place, same time next year
  • + 1
 Thanks for the photo's smoke...lovin' it. Even one of my dogs made the cut!
  • + 1
 June was good in the OK - got my ass handed to me at the Kelowna Super D, but that is part of the game. Rad truck Brant!
  • + 1
 nice fro there! hee i recognize some of those vistas
  • + 1
 livin the dream baby. livin the dream.
  • + 1
 Sweet read, feels like I was there... almost.
  • + 1
 Nato, you gotta free up a day sometime and i'll show you this place. It will blow your mind. It's on my top 5 favorite places to ride.
  • + 2
 Great article Johnny
  • + 1
 good read. I miss the Okanagan
  • + 1
 9.8
  • + 1
 such a sweet article!
  • + 1
 where exactly is this??
  • + 0
 Rode with Greasy Jon before, cool dude

Post a Comment



You must login to Pinkbike.
Don't have an account? Sign up

Join Pinkbike  Login
Copyright © 2000 - 2017. Pinkbike.com. All rights reserved.
dv65 0.035736
Mobile Version of Website