There are a lot of topics I could cover about a no-frills extended mountain bike trip… Like, how to live in a teeny-tiny van for 3-weeks without killing your partner; or, personal hygiene and how to successfully poach showers; or, how about favorite trails of the trip? Although the first two topics make for good stories, the later might be most useful – so I’ll start there.
Northern Idaho: Coeur D’Alene and Kellogg
British Columbia: Fernie, Nelson, Rossland, Vernon, Revelstoke, New Denver
The Idaho Favorite:
No doubt about it, Silver Mountain Bike Park in Kellogg is super fun and well worth checking out – especially if you don't like standing in lines or dealing with other people on the trails, period. You can make your way down the mountain mixing a number of beginner thru advanced trails, “tech” or “flow” – with 3,400’ vertical drop per run. Not kidding. A beefier all-mtn/trail bike seemed to be the perfect choice here for maximum fun times. There wasn't really one trail that I liked best at Silver Mountain. Honestly, all the blue's and black's were pretty fun. As far as Coeur d'Alene goes, Trail 257 on Mt. Coeur d'Alene was a good time. Very Oakridge-y, mild and playful with smooth, dark dirt.
The BC Favorites
Canadian Trail Ratings:
I can’t talk about the BC trails without first mentioning the level of difficulty ratings system. I think a coffee analogy explains it best… In the US we have the “Americano” which is hot water and two shots of espresso. In Canada, the equivalent is the “Canadiano” which is two shots of espresso added to drip coffee. Get it? Yes, ratings varied from town to town, but overall certainly more caffeinated than our general Yankee standards.
My first run down Project 9 changed my life – it was that f*#ck’n fun. Essentially, you haul ass through a somewhat tight forest, flying over roots and rocks. Small drops give you a little air time and a stretch of multiple big dips/g-out formations make you hang on and giggle. There is a climb in the middle, however, but whatever – this trail still kicks mega ass. Other fun ones: HyperExtension, Swine Flu, Slunt. Note: the climbs here will give you the quads of a T-Rex (aka: horribly steep and painful).
Nelson Favorite: Feeling G-forces in massive fishbowl berms is addicting. Hands down, the new Turnstyles trail on Morning Mountain is like no other jump trail I’ve ever experienced – except maybe A-Line in Whistler. The use of gravity is perfect (fast!), massive berms, fun jumps, cool berm to berm transitions, fun step-ups, and it’s in pristine condition – not one hole or brake bump. The ultimate trail bike jump trail. Beyond Turnstyles and most (but not all!) of Morning Mountain, I should mention that Nelson took the difficult rating to another level, in my opinion. So, if you like old skool super steep rooty/rocky nastiness that will make you pee yourself a little – this is your spot.
Rossland Favorite: WHHHHISKY!!!!! Honestly, after riding in Nelson, I felt like I could do anything – which made these two trails super, super fun. Whiskey on the Rocks is a bit challenging and connects into Whiskey which is faster mix of flow and tech. Whiskey on the Rocks is made up of multiple rock outcroppings that you ride up, over, and down – some more steep and techy than others. And Whiskey is where you pick up speed and fly over small jumps, around berms, and down rock faces. It’s an absolute blast. Another favorite: Seven Summits Trail – It’s an IMBA Epic and rightfully so.
Vernon (Silver Star) Favorite: This bike park is killer. I would go back in a minute and ride Rockstar over and over and over. Again, I felt like a beefy trail bike was more fun than a DH bike, although there were still a few people here riding DH bikes – which I’m sure are choice on some of the double-black runs. Similar to Silver Mountain this bike park had something for everyone but on a much more expansive scale. In other words, you could easily spend more than one day here.
Revelstoke Favorite: Ah Revelstoke. If I could go back to one place, it would be here. Mainly because we got rained out... and the one trail we did get to ride/slide (in the pouring rain) was AWESOME. That was Ultimate Frisby DH, not to be confused with the very popular “Frisby Ridge”. With 2,000' of descending, which by Revelstoke standards was short, this loamy trail flew you through lush forest with roots and rocks, and had amazing flow but without man-made features. A number of steep loamy, rocky, or rock face sections throughout the lower part of the trail kept things exciting and challenging – with some “I got this” stop and start overs. Or not....
New Denver Favorite: I'll be honest... The Butter Trails we rode in New Denver were not favorites. It's not that they sucked by any means; it's when you compare them to other trails we rode...well, they just don't compare. The loamy-ness was awesome, but the slow nature of the trail due to features spaced too closely made it a bit awkward to ride. Just my trail snob .02. Regardless of the trail, the view was amazing.
In the end, 3-weeks just wasn't long enough to explore Interior and Eastern BC. We had so many other trail and bike park suggestions from so many people that we would need an entire summer to get to them all. Time to start saving up the precious vacation time again. That or quit, sell the house, and live in the van full-time. Anything is possible with some sacrifice, you know. Dream it, do it!