Mountain biking and hiking on a summer alpine adventure

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{L to R} Michael Sleziak, Zac Cunningham, Kyle Bulstrode

"And here's your bike. Enjoy your ride..."

After staring at the "Wall of Pain" while they prepped my bike, I wasn't so sure that what I was about to do was a good idea.

I was comforted slightly knowing that I wasn't just being thrown on the mountain and that I was taking a lesson with Jaide Foster, who won the provincials last September and placed first in the Junior Women Canada Cup this year. I was sure she could teach me a thing or two, even if she was only 16 years old.

Having no idea what was in store, but having watched a few trick-abundant mountain biking videos, I hopped on the bike ready for an adventure. At the beginning I complained...a little.

"Wait, I can't sit all?"

"This is stupid, I'm going to kill myself."  

"I hate this, how is this a beginner run?" 

The complaining stopped when I realized that riding a bike was second nature to me, and that the bike I was using had a wheel width that was three times the size of those on my own bike, which ultimately meant more stability. It also had shocks, which meant I could ride over almost anything.

And ride over things I did: bridges, potholes, "gnarly" rocks, and half of a jump (don't ask).

I was able to handle the berms (just learned that term), but I struggled slightly on the flat corners. Despite this, I didn't walk or fall off my bike at all, which is apparently quite unusual. Yay, me!

Jaide was so confident in my ability, that on the lift going up the second time she said, "I'm 89.8% sure that you can handle a blue run...want to try?" To which I replied, "Hmmm, I probably shouldn't, but okay." After half a run on blue, she asked if I wanted to try a black. To which I replied, "Hmmm, I probably shouldn't, but okay."

And this is what I liked about Jaide; she understood my distaste for lessons, and despite being new to the coaching thing, was smart to let me "lead" the lesson in a sense. I learn by watching and doing, and so she rode, I followed, we'd reconvene and chat about techniques, then we'd ride again. The faster she rode, the faster I rode.

The experience was exhilarating, intense and made my heart feel like it was going to burst. I have a new appreciation for downhill mountain biking, even without the jumps. I'm happy that my first time was in a bike park that wasn't overpopulated, as it was nice to learn without people zipping by me the whole time. And don't tell anyone, but I've actually been thinking about getting back on the mountain since I got off the bike.

After a couple of runs I was starving, and ready for a big juicy burger and a cold one from Bottom's Bar and Grill. Check out my Sun Peaks dining experience (including Bottom's) and the recap of Burton Cummings' free concert.

For more photos, check out my gallery on Flickr. 

Fun facts:

  • Sun Peaks Resort sees approximately 18-20,000 lift rides in the summer.
  • I met Jaide the first night I was there - at Mountain High Pizza. She works there that she can pay for her mountain biking expenses.
  • We had dinner with Al Raine and a glass of wine with Nancy Greene, both extremely iconic and admired individuals.
  • Sun Peaks has a Winter Wine Fest in January - I'll be there.

[ Google Map directions from Vancouver: ]

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