Reporter takes a first-time crack at bike trails

SilverStar Mountain Resort is now open for the summer season

Despite a last-minute snowfall a couple weeks ago, SilverStar Mountain Resort is ready to ride this summer. And everyone, even those who have never set foot, or wheel, on trails, is urged to come explore the views and thrills.

Cross-country and downhill bike trails, as well as hiking, opened Saturday to the public. But some lucky professionals and newbies got a sneak peek at the conditions Friday during Industry Day.

Approximately 60 people came to test out the “sick, stellar and sweet” conditions, including, yours truly.

While the majority were experienced riders stoked to get back on the mountain, this novice and a few other media types took to the trails for our very first time.

It took guts to come up and ride with some of the best in B.C. (including pro-snowboarder Kevin Hill) and beyond — there were even a few industry types from Seattle. And I’ll admit my fear level was on high even as I pulled into the parking lot.

Watching the seasoned riders with their personal bikes made me feel slightly out of place, but they all welcomed and cheered on my initiative. Thanks to SilverStar’s rental shop I left my Sport Chek special at home and boarded a rental bike that is worth more than most of the cars I’ve driven. And, safety first, I was suited up from head to shins in armour, leaving me feeling like a Ninja Turtle, ready to kick up trail butt.

Trail guide Spike Kenny was patient with us newbies, helping us correct our stance, gears and speed along the entire way.

First, we tackled some cross country trails — a real cardio workout climbing hills, most of which I ended up having to walk with my bike. But that was OK, according to Kenny, and I wasn’t alone in feeling like I just couldn’t do it — there were others in the exact same boat. Even SilverStar’s own Wesla Wong was forced off her bike seat as she huffed and puffed up a few of the hills. But if you’re anything like the road bike racing Beach FM’s dude that joined us, the cross country is likely a breeze for you (he was climbing the hills with Energizer Bunny energy).

After refuelling at the Red Antler, we headed over to the downhill trails.

This is where the real fear came in for me, as I’m not a fan of looking down any hill, especially on just two wheels.

But slow and steady (and like Kenny said, it’s a rental so who cares if you ride the brakes all the way down), and I actually learned to enjoy myself. Plus, as it turns out, going downhill forces you on your feet. You must stand on the pedals to provide better stability. I only bailed once, a minor fall which I forced. But I got right back up, climbed back up the hill and did it again.

While I kept asking, “Are you sure this a green trail?” Kenny assured me and patted me on the back the whole way. And after staring down at some of the double-diamond trails, complete with gate-keeping ramps, I finally believed him.

SilverStar graciously treated us all to an epic day, and what is the first of many more to come in my mountain biking future.

You too can hit the trails, no matter your experience. They are in great shape, oddly thanks to the June snow. See related: Snow on mountains, highway weather statements in effect

“The slow release of moisture from one of the largest snowpacks in the history of the resort will make nice and tacky trails,” said Cam Sorensen, SilverStar Mountain Resort Bike Park manager. “This will be one of the best openings in a decade.”

If you don’t believe us, check out what Stacey Banks, with the North Okanagan Cycling Society, had to say about the trails, which she has been riding for more than 10 years, in a video online at vernonmorningstar.com.

SilverStar Bike Park top is at 1915 m (6280 ft), with a vertical ride drop of 760m to the bottom at 1155 m (3780 ft).

SilverStar has a trail for every visitor: 18 downhill bike trails, 21 cross-country bike trails, four hiking only trails, two multi-use trails and is open now until mid-September.

Take a ride on SilverStar’s eight-passenger Doppelmayr gondola opening Saturday, July 14. See related: Snow delays SilverStar gondola opening

From there you can customize your own speciality cheese sandwich and enjoy your meal with a stunning view at the mountaintop Look Out Cafe. Or hike along the Attridge Scenic Loop, a new trail that starts at the top of the gondola.

You can also defy gravity, and attempt a few somersaults and get your adrenaline pumping on the Eurobungy trampolines.


@VernonNews
jennifer@vernonmorningstar.com

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Trail guide Spike Kenny gives a thumbs up as the beginner group takes a break to enjoy the view from the cross country trail Friday. (Wesla Wong/SilverStar)

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