I had to go to Vernon to work on a project last week. I really wasn’t in the mood for a road trip and would have loved to just stay home in Victoria, but that wasn’t possible. Trying to get motivated for a couple long days behind the wheel and the unavoidable ferry trips I remembered that the Silverstar Resort Bike Park would be open.
So in addition to my usual field gear for work I loaded up my mountain bike. 🙂
I was a lot more excited for hitting the road now that there was a bikey component to the week ahead.
I called Silverstar to arrange a coaching lesson with one of their instructors. I figured that would be beneficial for some skills building and I would also get a guide for the trails. I should more accurately say I called Silverstar and called Silverstar and called Silverstar!! It took around 8 or 9 calls over a week to finally get things sorted out….and only at 630pm the night before I was going to show up. If you are hoping to organize some lessons with these folks prepare to start the process early and keep at it. Answering phones and following through on things are not at the top of their skills list. 😉
Silverstar is a bit of a drive from Vernon up a windy mountain road. Without winter conditions to deal with it was a lot of fun to cruise up there. The resort itself is pretty nice with all the amenities you’d expect from a ski hill. In particular they had a well stocked pro shop in case you forgot some gear, a bike mechanic and food/drink options.
Dealing with the Silverstar staff in person was a lot easier than over the phone. They took my money [$42 for lift ticket and $90 for 3hr lesson] and hooked me up with my instructor Darren.
This was my first bike park experience so I really didn’t know what to expect. I was surprised to find out that even though the lift meant no climbing my body was being worked pretty hard on each run and being whisked back to the top quickly meant very limited rest. I was also a little shocked by how “small” the trails made my 160mm travel Santa Cruz Nomad feel. The riders on downhill bikes cruised past me like I was standing still.
The coaching session was useful and getting to ride the same trail multiple times back to back with only a quick chair lift ride was a great way to keep improving quickly. The trails at the Silverstar Bike Park are well designed and maintained. My skill level and my “little” bike meant I couldn’t take full advantage of them, but I could see the potential. Especially with the low number of mid-week riders leaving us lots of room to ride without someone on your back tire.
After 3hrs my lesson was up, but my lift ticket was good for the rest of the day. I would have loved to do more riding, but my arms were so pumped from riding the trails on my under-gunned Nomad I could barely hold onto my bars and operate my brakes. So I packed it in and hit the road for Victoria.
I learned a lot from this day of riding and I can see why people have DH bikes they take to bike parks. It’s a lot of fun with the right equipment. Next time I am in Vernon during the summer I’ll hit up the Silverstar Bike Park again, but this time I will do my hands a favour and rent a long travel DH bike. 😉
I’ll also bring googles to keep the dust out of my eyes. Regular sunglasses didn’t do much to stop the grit from ending up in my eyes. Not good when you are bombing downhill over rough terrain at warp 5.
If you are having trouble making contact with the Mother Ship to setup lessons you can email Darren directly at firstname.lastname@example.org to get things sorted.