The life of a pro mountain biker is exactly as amazing as you think it is. Maybe better. For last summer’s edition of the Dream Ride, we told the crew at Toyota BC that we wanted to give the winners something unique: a taste of the pro mountain biker’s lifestyle. Set them up with a fresh trio of Altitudes from Rocky Mountain and a sparkling Toyota Tacoma to use for the weekend and send them down the road to a weekend of riding with Thomas Vanderham and the NSMB crew. We wanted a quintessential British Columbian mountain bike destination. Glacier-topped mountains, high alpine riding accessible by truck, and good vibes in town. Could we have chosen a better destination than Revelstoke?
Waiting at the end of the road was a log cabin. You would only call it modest if your last name rhymed with Drumpf. When Dream Ride winner Brett Grayston and his two pals showed up, we were there waiting for them. The fridge was full of beer, the steaks marinating, the hot tub flipped on. Party mode engaged. And the riding hadn’t even begun.
The McKay Creek Chalet was our home base for the weekend – complete with hot tub and lots of space to stretch out and relax post ride – or get schooled at pool by Vanderham.
The cabin, the partying, the beer and the steaks were all great, but the main event was the alpine riding that laid in wait for our crew. With our guide and longtime pal, Jonny Smoke leading the way, we spent the next couple of days fending off rain clouds (unsuccessfully) while we ticked off some Revelstoke classics like Martha Creek – a 5,000′ alpine descent – and Frisby Ridge, which starts up high in marmot territory and drops you into the forest after an endless ribbon of sweet dirt.
Dream Ride winner Brett Grayston, flanked by buddies Blair and Jeff. These guys were a lot of fun to have along for the weekend, and they knew how to handle themselves on a bike, as well.
The Cabin at Mckay Creek – we recommend it.
Loaded up on day 1. We were rolling deep with no fewer than four Tacomas of various generations.
On days like this driving the shuttle is a perk. Headed up to Martha Creek on day one.
Big crews often get balled up but this group meshed beautifully. Having Jonny Smoke to run the show was a huge asset.
This is what we came for. Views were scarce all weekend but the top of Martha’s Creek delivered seven-figure views and glimpses of blue sky.
Martha Creek trail starts in alpine terrain that will leave you gobsmacked before dipping into the trees for a combo of flow and technical ripping. The drive to Revelstoke was worth it for this ride alone.
Lots of protein for big days in the mountains.
Rocky Mountain provided Altitudes for the Dream Ride winners to ride for the weekend.
You too can win a Dream Ride, and find yourself chasing Thomas Vanderham down Martha’s Creek.
Water was not in short supply.
It was that kind of weekend. Rainbows and unicorns.
Any time spent in an alpine area is memorable. Add bikes and you’ve created a lifelong memory.
We all started to get cold so we decided to pin it down the trail as fast as we could. Thomas was leading the pack and I made it my goal to try and keep up with him. -Dream Ride winner Brett Grayston
Spending the weekend riding and hanging out with Vanderham clinches once-in-a-lifetime status for the Dream Rider winners.
The weather got nasty when we were on top of Frisby Ridge. Coming down was a splatter fest but it didn’t dampen the fun. Ollie Jones got a face full.
At the start of the weekend, we wondered what kind of riders our winners would be. Would the pace suffer? Not a chance. They came ready to charge all day and all night.
Brett sent along a few words to describe the weekend:
Wow! It’s hard to sum up how amazing this weekend was. It was a life-changing experience that will not be forgotten. It was literally what the name of the trip was called, a Dream Ride weekend. When I got an email saying that I had won the trip, my jaw dropped. I thought it was to0 good to be true as I rarely have won anything in my life.
I don’t think reality set in until we were in the Toyota Tacoma, heading to Revelstoke. The trip included a Toyota Tacoma for the weekend, Rocky Mountain bikes to ride, a mansion to stay at in Revelstoke, good company, food, and beer. Did I mention that Johnny Smoke was the guide and that we got to ride with Thomas Vanderham and the nsmb crew?
The weather during the trip was a mixed bag. We shuttled Martha creek on the first day which had picturesque views and the amount of vertical that we got to ride was insane. The trail was technical single track with gnarly sections that seemed to go on forever.
The second day we got to ride upper Frisby Ridge. As we reached the top the sky opened up on us. It’s amazing how fast the weather can change when you’re in the mountains. We all started to get cold so we decided to pin it down the trail as fast as we could. Thomas was leading the pack and I made it my goal to try and keep up with him. When we all converged at the bottom of the trail, we were all covered in mud and all you could see were smiles. Everyone was discussing which corners they had drifted and we were giving each other high fives. Both days were some of best riding that I have ever done. After we were done riding we headed back to the place where the nsmb crew cooked us amazing dinners while we relaxed. Thanks to everyone that made this trip possible. Not only was the riding incredible, but we got to meet some amazing people. The three of us had a fantastic experience.
Toyota BC supplied a Tacoma to the winners to drive for the weekend. The expectation was that it would come back muddy. It did.
When we all converged at the bottom of the trail, we were all covered in mud and all you could see were smiles.
Wet, muddy, a wee bit chilly: never been happier.
That is the face of a guy livin’ the dream.
Hailey Elise never shies away from a little mud.
Ollie Jones putting in a little pre-ride prep on his Diamondback Mission Pro.
A little Tour De France to warm up our engines at the beginning of the day.
Just try and make Hailey stop smiling. We haven’t figured out a way yet.
See what we mean? Photo: Jonny Smoke
Trevor Hansen grippin’ and grinnin’ on Martha Creek. Photo: Jonny Smoke
Dream Ride wasn’t just about the riding – we also made sure to have some fun at night. Photo: Jonny Smoke
Cam McRae and a follower climbing to Upper Frisby Ridge on Day 2. Photo: Jonny Smoke
Who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of days shredding Revelstoke with this guy along? Thomas is always welcome on our trips.
Moody skies added layers of fun to the weekend.
It’s road trip season. Our Tacoma is going to be hitting the road all over BC. Where are you off to?
If you need a guide for your next riding trip in BC (and beyond) we highly recommend Jonny Smoke and Bush Pilot Biking.
NSMB rider Hailey Elise goes in search of loam and good times on the trails of Squamish for Ollie Jones’ camera. Come for the smooth riding, stay for the flying dirt, and, since it’s Hailey, at least one crash.
Words by Hailey Elise Photos by Ollie Jones & Hailey Elise
January 5th, 2015
Last weekend, unable to decide between snow and dirt, we compromised on a multi-sport day. With only thirty minutes separating Whistler from Squamish, biking and skiing in one day is something worth taking advantage of. We started early and headed to Squamish to start the adventure.
A very rainy Sea to Sky as we made our way down HWY99
The recent snowfall covering the forest canopy.
Having thrown the first pedal strokes down the trail it was noticeably green and full of life in the forest for mid December.
Nothing beats pushing those tires around in tacky dirt.
Squamish providing the loose steeps.
Blasting some more loose trails deep in the forest.
The backlit fog which rolled through gave us the chills as we navigated our way down the trail.
Making the most of every line before heading out for some afternoon powder.
No snow in sight as we looked down the valley towards the Howe Sound.
The same views as you see while riding the Top Of The World trail from Whistler Mountain. It was only fair we threw some slashes.
Having a moment thinking about the places to find yourself.
Last turns before calling it a successful day.
Multisport days are very rewarding but far from easy. Every second counts from that first alarm clock until the last light falling behind the peaks. Having short days doesn’t help but you will probably be tucked up in bed shortly after so I wouldn’t worry.
NSMB team riders Ollie Jones and Hailey Elise are masters of getting after it. Do YOU multi-sport?
Words by Ollie Jones Photos by Magz Mackay, Ollie Jones
October 21st, 2014
Welcome to Nelson, BC – tucked away in the Selkirk Mountains on the west arm of Kootenay Lake, it’s known as the ‘Queen City’ and famous for its impressive heritage buildings, I couldn’t help but wonder what we would find here. Along for the ride were Scottish photo genius and chief magic maker Mark ‘Magz’ Mackay, all-time lady shredders Hailey Elise and Trish Bromley, and and king of flat tires/enduro racer Adrian Camposilvan.
And so it begins…
The 788km drive over from Whistler felt long and tiring. Thankfully with good conversation and the constant beats of hard trance pounding over the stereo, we neared our destination full of fire for the start of our riding adventure.
Enjoying the stunning drive.
Arriving in the early hours of the morning at the beautiful Alpine Motel, we checked in and quickly got to bed eager to see what the following day would bring. Everyone was awake early ready to get on the saddle, so we packed up and headed to Gerick Cycles. After getting some suggestions on where we could start our Nelson adventures, we made our way 10 minutes out of town over the famous Bobs Bridge into a unique zone named Kokanee Glacier.
Scrubbing rocks and playing around on the trails.
The 12-hour drive left us craving some serious bike time and Kokanee Glacier didn’t disappoint. Riding lap after lap we eventually got our fix.
Examining the fresh dirt.
By this time, everyone was laughing and screaming their way down each and every trail, clueless to what might be around the next corner. There’s something truly breathtaking about bombing trails you haven’t ridden before. Everyone in our pack was in the same boat and the shouting didn’t stop, even after we jumped back in the truck to start our shuttle back up.
Hailey riding some steep rock on Morning Sickness.
On our way back into town we figured a short stop by the bike shop to say thanks and ask about the myth of something called the “Kootenay Gold.” High altitude trails with endless views over the mountain tops and one hell of a descent is what we wanted. The Kootenay Gold sure sounded like the real deal.
Getting the low down on what to ride at Gerick Cycles.
In the meantime, we still had plenty of opportunity to explore, so we checked directions and headed to the Morning Mountain zone. It’s a government-funded area, and is a smooth 10-minute drive out of town. It has everything from buff single track to machine built jump lines, so there’s something for everyone to ride.
Hailey and Trish having a blast before making it to the descent.
We passed a few of these trails on the climb up and really couldn’t believe how well everything was built and maintained. There were lots of alternate lines around, which would work out perfectly for the kind of guy who wants to tempt his lady down something she may not be overly keen on at first.
Following Adrian at full speed down Lefty.
We all had a killer time playing on the bikes at Morning Mountain. Earning your turns is always rewarding and it’s definitely an area we’ll be visiting again.
This trail is so buff!
Stopping by an organic grocery store en route back into town we bought some fine food to make a big crew dinner. This was the perfect opportunity to talk about what trails we were stoked on so far, and where we’d go next. Of course we still had no real direction but that’s what makes a great adventure, right?
Taking a look at what’s new on NSMB.com
Looking forward to a relaxing day, we headed North of Nelson to the Ainsworth Hot Springs. After splashing around in the pools and 160 foot horseshoe cave it was back on the road with our eyes on the prize. We’d been given a strong lead on trail in Kaslo, which sounded long, steep, loamy and awesome. Trekking as far up the road as possible we were presented with endless views over Kootenay Lake. This is when you are truly thankful for the Tacoma that didn’t miss a beat on our ride up.
The Toyota doing what she does best.
Soon after we arrived, the clouds started to open up and a glimpse of sunlight shone through. It felt like we were supposed to be there at that exact moment.
Adrian and I taking it all in for a minute.
Not being able to put his camera down, Magz and I walked around in search of the trail entrance, which we found nearby. Whilst the others gathered their gear, we scoped some angles to shoot photos from. I definitely needed to capture this special place.
Welcome to the start of The Monster.
The Monster trail is 7 km of singletrack (built by the late Sam Brown -Ed.) winding down from the meadows into an old growth forest, harbouring the deepest brown loam. This is definitely what we wanted to see, but we still had our eyes open for the Kootenay Gold…
The girls playing follow-the=leader down a stunning piece of single track.
The trail took around 45 mins to reach the valley bottom and yes, it was a wild ride the whole way. I dropped into numerous sections fully locked up just praying it would mellow out enough to re-adjust my feet on the pedals before I rode the bull. It never really did but we eventually made it out to the road. The highest of fives got handed out and our smiles couldn’t have been bigger.
Eyes on the trail Adrian!
With several days of shredding under our belt, experiencing some of Nelson’s night life was next on the agenda, if we were to get a proper grasp on what this place is all about. Cantina Centro was where we needed to go; a Mexican place serving delicious food and top notch tequila which would make a great end to a sweet day.
Best tequila in town.
Our guide Mark Holt mentioned a zone up near Baldface Lodge that evening which potentially had the Kootenay Gold. Arranging to meet up again the following day, Mark agreed to guide us up into the alpine and show us the ropes. This of course came with a price: a 5am start after a 20 hour day.
Meeting new people and having a great time the Cantina.
It was still dark when we set off to pick Mark up from the shop and everyone was pretty quiet on the drive over. Nature turned against us that morning as it started to rain. Clouds were filling up the mountains for as far as you could see and the road to Baldface was incredibly loose. During the drive up to the lodge it was hard to see a mere 10 ft, in front of you. That was when our hearts started to sink. Clawing your way through a rainstorm with pea soup vision didn’t feel like fun, but this was going to be our last chance to find the Kootenay Gold so we took it, fun or not! Suddenly out of nowhere we broke into the heavens and the light was firing. There we sat taking it in, above the clouds, mist and rain right in the glorious sunshine.
Breaking through the cloud.
Astonished as to what just happened it was like the crew had been given a new lease on life. It was like being on another planet but you get to bring your bicycle, best pals and your camera too!
I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else other than here.
Heading to the trailhead 15mins from Baldface Lodge.
From the lodge it was about a 15 minute hike to the trailhead and Mark lead the way into the thick of things. Nobody could keep their eyes off the cloud filled valley, it was truly breathtaking.
Floating through the mountains.
Adrian hits pay dirt.
Mark Holt proved that the Kootenay Gold is no myth. I didn’t think we were going to find what we were looking for, especially with how the morning had started. I recommend checking this trail out above Bald Face Lodge if you are in the area. It’s an unreal descent from top to bottom and has everything for even the pickiest riders; but let’s be real, how can you be picky with views like that and Kootenay gold under your tires?
Looks like Ollie Jones and company found the motherlode in Nelson. Who else is planning their expedition right now?
Imagine you are in the Southern Chilcotin, you are almost three hours into a climb that you shuttled to get to. You are blowing hard, the climb is steep, your pack is heavy, but you are doing it. You spent hours packing your gear, prepared for anything that mother nature might throw your way; a freak storm, a loose rock that kicks your derailleur through the wheel, an encounter with a grizzly, an unforeseen night in the alpine, you are ready. That’s part of the fun of it, that anything could happen. And if it did, things could go sideways faster than Finn Iles on Crabapple Hits.
Kerri-Ann Thibeau climbs above tree line to begin a lesson in getting after it.
Now imagine stopping for a breather, grabbing a Clif bar from your huge pack, when you look up and see Jen. Jen is a twenty-something girl from Squamish, and she has mastered the art of getting after it. I am pretty sure the first step of mastering this art is giving absolutely zero shits about anything. Jen was stood there in her Birkenstocks, miles away from, well, anything except us. She was completely alone, apart from a small pack, a six hundred dollar hardtail, and a pair of Ray-Bans for company. Jen was representing the true essence of getting after it.
It’s a long climb to the top of Camel Pass. Paul Stevens follows the single track ribbon high in the alpine.
My first reaction was that this girl was probably certified crazy. But we were so far away from even the closest town, let alone the nearest lunatic asylum, that the chances of her being a recent escapee were pretty slim. I looked around for the rest of her crew, but this girl was clearly alone. She had simply looked at a map, rallied her Toyota Echo out into the middle of nowhere, and was just getting it done.
Kerri-Ann half way through lesson two – The hurt locker- followed shortly by lesson three, the view of a lifetime.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not condoning this Jen’s actions and decisions – for all I know, she could be inside a grizzly by now. But when you look around at our overly safety-conscious world where it is deemed necessary to warn you that your coffee could be hot, or that the playground will be wet when it is raining, or not to eat the packaging that your food comes in, you have to admire the minerals of the people truly getting after it, even if they are drastically reducing their life expectancy!
Paul begins the to reap the rewards of the long climb as the Camel keeps watch.
I won’t be heading out for an all day mission on my own in grizzly country any time soon, but there is a piece of me that is pretty inspired by people like Jen. So next time I hear my friends making weak excuses for not going riding, or begin to formulate one myself, I will think about her, and just get out there and take another lesson in mastering the art of getting after it.
Kerri-Ann Thibeau, High trail, Southern Chilcotin.
This leaves us with a question: if you go into the backcountry overprepared, are you still getting after it?