Zen and the Art of Father Son Road Trips
Phaedrus, the protagonist In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, mixes a search for philosophical answers on quality with the dynamics of a father-son road trip. In Zen and the Art of Trevor and Pete’s Excellent Dads and Sons Adventure. the search for quality was based on hitting sweet bike lines in some of the choicest spots in B.C.’s Okanagan. Ours was more a superficial adrenaline-filled fun fest than philosophical journey.
I wanted to take the archetypal summer father-son fishing or camping trip and shape it into my usual biking road trips with friends; something that works better for me than trying to catch fish and sleeping on a leaky air mattress.
I have ridden at Silverstar and Sun Peaks many times but I’ve only shared the Okanagan bike experience with my boy once, three years ago at Silverstar. This time the trip offered a chance to ride with my clone, hang with my biking bud Pete Chambers and enjoy the road trip vibe with our sons while the two still-maturing dads oversaw the whole operation.
With the NSMB.com Taco loaded to the gunnwhales we pointed it toward Silverstar. The Bulldog Hotel, was our home base. For lodging right at the hill the Bulldog is the most economical option barring the hostel. Unfortunately due to a flood the dining room and bar were closed down. We had most of the hotel to ourselves and received great treatment from the fun and friendly staff.
On our way to get our lift tickets we saw youngsters from 3 years to 8 years ripping around on bikes, couples on DH bikes, some lycra clad XC types fixing their chamois and a smattering of hiker/tourist folk checking out the sights.
The riding at Silver Star is perfect for dads with their riding offspring even 3 years ago when my boy was 9. Now that he’s 12 the trails offer a safe progression from easy flowing bermy trails with little jumps to fast, steep and smooth jump trails that the boys had a blast on even without hitting the transitions.
We hit SS on a Monday and Tuesday so the crowds were small. We didn’t feel any pressure hitting the black diamond trails and worrying about getting run down by speedy riders. I have also hit these trails on busy days in previous years and never once had a problem with crowds. This is an obvious welcome change to the Whistler mob I am used to.
Cam Sorenson has been at the helm of Silver Star’s trail creation and maintenance since the beginning. We have had a few occasions when Cam and his crew have created new trails just in time for our arrival at AIRprentice. Coincidentally this year we arrived a few days after his latest, Jedi Mind Trick, was opened. What a great trail. It is like a mini version of all the mountain’s best advanced jump and berm trails. It was our favourite run when combined with Rockstar – so much speed, air and bermage.
The resort has added a massive cross country trail network which has helped them achieve Silver Ride Centre Status by IMBA. The IMBA Ride Center designation represents IMBA’s Model Trail recognition for large-scale mountain bike facilities that offer something for every rider. This diversity creates a great option for the dads when they are staying for a few days: the dads can get some XC/AM laps one of the days while the adrenalin seeking teenagers hit the park. I have done this mixing on winter trips to SS where I start the day with some XC skiing then hit the hills for the rest of day on the snowboard.
After two days of riding the boys’ skills and speed had improved immensely; however the dads continued the steady riding regression from our peaks a few years ago to our happy place of having fun without injury. Next stop: Salmon Arm.
The NSMB crew went to Salmon Arm last year on a tip from Matt Hunter. The team had a great time exploring one of a multitude of areas in the Arm – The Rubberhead Trails . The area is accessed from a forest service road a few miles out of town. You can pedal up or shuttle. We chose the sacrifice shuttle option with one driver dropping off riders and meeting at the trail end. The trails are well made, fast and flowy and mostly in the intermediate skill zone which was great for our little posse of sore park riders. All of the trails work well when run super fast or at slower speeds with optional routes on any of the limited gnar.
After the ride we chilled at the Prestige Hotel overlooking the water, . This is an excellent reasonably priced hotel for road tripping. As much as I enjoy sleeping under the stars it was nice to sleep under the Prestige’s 4 stars.
Our final stop in our pursuit of a quality mountain bike experience was one of my favourite bike parks, Sun Peaks. This place has some of the steepest runs around. In addition, they have jump trails, old school tight trees, a big dj park and mini biker cross run, fast blue single tracks with optional air time and a classy laid back feel to the whole operation.
Sun Peaks was nice enough to give us a tour from instructor; bike mechanic and race vet Kim Krahulec. She showed us the goods starting on the high speed single tracks through the alpine flowers to the jump trails and all the tight tree runs.
Unfortunately, on the second last run of the day, a left turn instead of a right turn in the biker cross sent my son Dane over the bars and into the patrol hut for collarbone assessment.
After x-rays in North Van the diagnosis was not broken, just badly bruised. Bad dad – I should have bought the Leatt toilet seat brace like I meant to last spring and none of this would have happened. But more importantly, I would have been able to slide down Smittys Steeps. I hate when my procrastination makes me miss out on a quality steep chute experience.
Pete and I are still in the window where we are faster than our boys – but that may not last much longer. Hopefully they’ll remember the time we put in and still ride with us when they start leaving us in a cloud of Okanagan dust.
We got an almost full taste of the mountain though. It left us wanting more and in the pursuit of a quality life experience isn’t the drive for more what keeps us living?
Have you done a mtb road trip with kids?