Part I of the Ladies Single Track Stampede saw the group of twelve eager female mountain bikers hit the Cariboo singletrack in Williams Lake, BC, and finish off the day at the local Stampede. Now they’re off to the dusty steeps of Farwell Canyon. Enjoy the ride…
Welcome back to Day Two of Stampede Singletrack Shreddin’. The setting: the wild west of the Cariboo. Johnny Smoke wrangles up the herd of hurting, post-stampede partying ladies.
This skin tingling lake was the ultimate wake up call.
Our patient driver, Sirel, awaits the slumber queens from his paddle board on Chimney Lake.
One by one we arise… steeds awaiting a big day of shredding infamous Farwell Canyon in the blazing July sun.
After a sobering 40 minute drive out to the tip of the Chilcotin mountain range, we find ourselves in Farwell Canyon – a place local pro rider, James Doerfling, has shot many segments slashing loose, dusty finger lines down to the raging Fraser River. We have come to find our mountain biking Valhalla.
As Justin Calof, Executive Director of the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium, wrote to the girls in preparation, “Conditions [were] all time.” For a full week prior, it had rained non-stop in the normally arid region of the Cariboo Chilcotins, rendering Farwell Canyon of the Fraser River on the cusp of “rideable” in an otherwise dangerously loose time of year.
Starting out the trail “Classic”, we realize even the terrain of this area has a “calm before the storm” feel to it. Leanne Tompkins about to get into it.
Looking out across the plateau to grasslands and wind-cut slopes, it all looks serene and unassuming. Yet as the rubber starts to roll along the singletrack, one quickly discovers the exhilaration of this place. Cactus, plucked from the ground by the speeding tires, are thrown into the air and lodged into unprotected skin. Boulders crouching underneath overgrown grasses sabotage drifting lines. And plateaus give way to loose sandy chutes.
Aja Philp captures the trail compadres in this photo.
Photographer Lindsay Donovan gets her spot in the sun, thanks to Smoke. Photo Johnny Smoke.
Annie Bisson air-styling out some rollers on Classic. Photo Johnny Smoke.
Mallory Hewlko rips up a sweet dust trail on Classic. Photo Johnny Smoke.
Aja “Unicorn” Philp covering Lydia Schayes’ tail.
Monica rides a thin line in Farwell Canyon. Photo Johnny Smoke.
The group poses for a celebratory Farwell shot after run one down Classic.
Moving over to the other side of the canyon, we set our sights on a quick and dirty number: Fingers. For those who like it loose and rowdy, you have got to ride this line. A steep, tech-less, rain-rutted descent leads you down the spine of the mountain in one fast do-or-die race to the bottom. No brakes. Uber ruts. This line is like a rodeo: hold calm & steady or get bucked off.
Lydia Schayes rips down the first descent of Fingers. Photo Johnny Smoke.
Monica gets bucked. Photo Johnny Smoke.
At least she made it past the 8 seconds. Photo Johnny Smoke.
With obvious room for a pun, the view of this place really was stunning. Photo Johnny Smoke.
The crew gathered on Classic, looking out across the canyon to Fingers straight ahead in the distance.
Many of the girls had never ridden terrain or dirt like this before and it really put some in a humbling place. One Whistlerite commented “I thought I was a good rider [from riding the bike park] and then I come out here…”
After about 3 hours of shuttling in the desert sun, we returned to the truck to find a couple of local cowboys had saddled up next to us ready to ride. Jeremy Stowards (left) and James Doerfling (right).
Smoke leads the way towards a good ol’ fashioned Godsmack’ing.
Doerfling pauses a moment only to make us think that he’s contemplating the treachery of this next line, Godsmack. Reality check: he’s a friggin’ pro.
Godsmack is THE line to hit while you’re in Farwell canyon if you want to pick up any kind of bragging rights. Pitch steep with dirt looser than your sister’s lips and singletrack skinnier than a pirate’s plank and equally as consequential if you wander over the sides…
Doerfling waiting for Chiara Durfield to send it…
…and boy did she stomp it! Photo Johnny Smoke.
The girls look on in a twist of excitement and anxiety. None of the crew hit it this time around. Monica (right) looks on after having ridden it her first time in October when dirt conditions were heavenly “cream-cheese” like and tacky, not kamikaze loose. Props to the Puddle natives Doerfling, Stowards, and Durfield.
Aja coined the signature style of Doerfling’s singlet, no-glove riding the best with “suns out, guns out”. As Monica was thinking “When in Rome…” here.
It was a chilly 34 degree day in the canyon. Only one way to cool down… bikini shot!
With a bit of blood, gallons of sweat, and tears of laughter spent that day, the campfire by Chimney Lake that night was especially light in heart that night.
Big thanks to Johnny Smoke and Sirel Molinar for stoking the girls fire both literally here, and emotionally on the trails. Thanks to Mark Savaard of Red Shred’s Bike and Board shed for generously hosting the crew on his lakefront property.
A friend once reflected on the fundamental difference between girls’- and guys’- trips. She said that unlike for men, an epic bike trip is not about the amount of vertical climbed, fastest lines, or biggest drops; it’s about the bonding, laughing, and skills progression in an unintimidating environment.
As more women enter the realm of freeride mountain biking, expect to see more stories filled with characters, shenanigans, and wicked riding.
The ladies of the single track stampede sure did make the most of their time in Williams Lake. Stoked to ride the Cariboo now?