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?
“The only other rider I’ve followed who rides like that is Brendan Fairclough.” These words came from Matt Hunter at our last running of The Airprentice. Ollie was a finalist and we almost signed him to the team after the event, but things didn’t work out. Thankfully the stars aligned this year and Ollie is a now a full patch member of team NSMB.com.
What Matty noticed was that Ollie rides like a wildman. Or in Ollie’s own words, “maybe a little out of control.” The bike beneath him takes on a life of its own, moving in unexpected directions and drifting at will. It’s clear that Ollie has a blast on the bike and his rowdy cheerfulness infects anyone nearby. This is at the heart of Mr. Jones’ focus; “As a rider I have a bunch of little goals for progression but the only one that has ever and will ever matter is to have fun.”
In the last few years Ollie’s discovered a new passion, allowing him to see mountain biking from the other side as a photographer. His experience in the saddle guides his lens as well. “Having a strong understanding of the riding part of things helps bring more to the shoot for sure. It creates a unique shoot every time and the collaboration basically turns into a stoke storm and produces great results.”
Thanks for the stoke storm Ollie!
Ollie Jones steezing through the trees. Ollie’s got tons of style, both on the ground and in the air.
First trail of the day, Crank It Up seems good.
Scrubs seemed to be the name of the game during our shoot.
Ollie accidentally set off one of the mines from World War I in the Garbanzo North-South region.
Serving up dinner on his tables.
Catching the last rays in Garbo.
Some pan-cakes to start the day off right.
“These berms are too perfect to roost!” A shoutout to the Whistler Trail Crew, I guess.
Mere millimeters separate Sir Ollie Jones from these jumps in Whistler.
NSMB Team Rider Ollie Jones heads East for a Riding Adventure
Words by Ollie Jones Photos by Ollie Jones, Mark Mackay, Hailey Elise
June 24th, 2014
There’s nothing that can jump start bike season and cure winter blues better than a road trip. I decided to head to B.C.’s interior with a few really amazing people, only 2 days after Whistler Bike Park opened. Not only to see what we could find, but to replenish that empty feeling that a dreary winter had created – and find that rush of excitement we had all been longing for. Immediately filled with anticipation and excitement we loaded up the bikes and headed north without a plan.
Its only fair we start off on the right foot and make sure things were colour coded straight off the bat. Got to look good right?
Sitting in slow lane gave us plenty of opportunity to scope out lines hidden along the highway. It didn’t take long at all before the bikes came off the rack for a little airtime just outside Whistler.
Getting the last of the jungle fever in before the dry lands of Kamloops came upon us. Myself Ollie, jumping off mossy rocks shortly after our departure late in the afternoon.
Our delayed start to the trip wasn’t the optimal way to get things going but we still ventured on through the mountains towards Kamloops. Stopping for a few visuals of course.
Sunset in Pemberton
Under the stars as we navigated our way through the mountains.
We neared Kamloops in the early hours of the morning and pulled into pretty much the first motel we came across that looked the least zombie infested. After knocking on the door for a short while, someone was kind enough to open up, hand over a set of room keys and not eat our brains.
Hauling bikes into the room was no problem at 4am.
Still wishing I’d had more sleep I let the overwhelming excitement direct my day. With our arses in gear to the Kamloops Bike Ranch we went.
Trish chasing me down one of many trails at the KBR
Kicking up some dust for Magz’s lens.
Its crazy how much there is to ride at the Ranch, jump after jump with one feature leading into another. Definitely no shortage of things to ride and its good to see there is something here for everyone.
Trish riding the slope-style line.
Throwing some afternoon whips while Hailey pointed the camera in my direction.
Bombing a fun line for Magz while the girls checked out some other features.
Shortly after a well earned break it was time to head back up to make some real magic while the sun went down.
No magic happening just yet…
Being in the right place at the right time can be super difficult for a photographer. Seems we nailed it this time though; Mark and I were stoked on the beams that cast over the trails.
Trish and Hailey deciding who should go first.
Mark snapping the goods
Our epic day of riding the Ranch was coming to a close but there was still time for a tasty beverage while we enjoyed the last rays. After packing up we headed out to grab a few more brewskies along with a delicious feed at the local pub.
Reminiscing about the killer day we just had only led to more excitement for the following day’s antics. Until then it was probably best we sink a few more of these.
Miles of smiles for an early start.
This time I suppose we had some kind of a plan. I wouldn’t called it a proper plan but we had decided to drive around and check out some natural zones to shoot and ride. Having spent very little time in the area we had no clue as to which direction to head, but luckily after a few phone calls we were on our way and gazing up at plenty of stunning lines.
Having a look around.
Hailey navigating her way through the rock walls.
Trish getting after some more big mountain lines.
Trish Leading Hailey down the steep gravel pit.
Getting one last line in before we departed to Harper Mountain.
Before we left Kamloops to head to Harper Mountain, we made a quick stop by the Bicycle Café where we were kindly greeted by Dylan Sherrard. He mentioned the Cafe was hosting the annual Unicorn Race at Harper the following day. Of course I couldn’t pass up on a race that sounded like it involved unicorns. With a quick handing over of money, my race booked and then it was onwards to Harper where finding a suitable camping spot was next on our agenda.
I consider this a 5 star camping spot and perfect for a night’s rest.
Pre race day feed cooking over the fire.
Having never ridden the course before I was stoked to check it out and see what kind of fun I was going to have. I soon managed to get a couple of practice laps under my belt, and damn the course was good. The trail as a whole was unreal but definitely didn’t complement my bag of tricks. There was a long flat straight which had a couple of up hills in it and pedaling sure isn’t my strong point.
Nonetheless I was stoked with 13th at the Unicorn race.
Later that afternoon after the race was wrapped up we had a chance to check out the rest of the mountain. Harper is very unique and has loads of fast flowing high speed trails you can bomb on a big bike or a small bike. We will definitely be visiting this place again in the near future. The Following morning we made a move back to Kamloops to get the last turns where ever we could find them before heading back to Whistler. A great deal of conversation was made throughout the trip about riding the well know trail Rio, so we all figured it would be rude to be so close to the trail, and not bother ride it. Mark has a Ford Explorer for a good reason, to explore. This time it sure lived up to its name…
Hmmm not so sure about this.
Yep you guessed it, we were stuck. Luckily a kind fellow biker lent a hand.
It wasn’t looking good, but 30minutes later the old girl was free from the bog.
The engine had sucked in a bunch of swamp water and was only running a half speed. We dived under the hood and swapped out a few parts and before we knew it we were back to business.
Still itching to ride but with very little time left before sundown, we had no other choice but to head back to the Ranch. Luckily it was beauty weather and there were lots of stuff we hadn’t yet ridden.
Getting loose in the sand bowl.
Trish pedaling into a trail.
Packing up the car to head back to Whistler with the clouds above us.
The lengthy drive back to Whistler gave everyone plenty of time to reflect on what a incredible trip we had. The hollow feeling seems to be suppressed for now, but it won’t be long before its time to head back on the road and see what other mischief we can get ourselves into.
Mark Mackay Photography
Typing “Grin n Holler” into Google will yield you many results of the huck trail in Squamish – but most, if not all, of these photos and videos are of riders on downhill bikes. Wielding his trail bike, Paul Stevens doesn’t care what the general consensus is. It could be something different in the British method of measurement, or it could be that Paul is very skilled on any bike.
Airtime was optional, but Paul didn’t back down.
Popping off roots and rocks, Paul makes it look easy…and fun.
Matt Dennison – STILL faster than you.
Charging straight ahead. Matt and Kaz commend Paul for always wearing flashy, easy-to-photograph clothing.
You cant help but grin n’ holler when someone hits these jumps on a big bike. But what about on a small bike?
We don’t know how to pronounce Sḵwx̱wú7mesh, but we do know that Paul sh7reds.