It certainly wasn’t the first time I’d been on a snow-covered mountain, but it was the first time I was on a bike instead of skis.
After a couple weeks of sun, the snow decided to make a sudden appearance on SilverStar Mountain for Industry Day last week. Taking place just one day before the mountain officially opened for the summer season, over 80 riders geared up to try the trails before anyone else.
Never having gone downhill biking before, I opted to join the beginners group — which, having seen some of the seasoned riders bolting down their first run, I concluded was a good choice.
Thanks to SilverStar’s rental shop, I boarded a rental bike and suited up from head to ankles in armour before joining my group. We took it easy at first, learning the proper stance and technique. Then we hit the hill.
The first run went smoothly. We took it slow, breaking lots to practice the skill and be corrected. Trail guide Spike Kenny was patient with us, helping us correct our stance, gears and speed along the way.
What started as a light drizzle soon turned to slush, then to snow. After losing a few riders to the cold, we boarded a chairlift to try out a full run.
Kenny explained that trail riding is ideal after rain when the ground is hard (so I suspect opening day had some pretty great conditions).
As we reached the top, all group members were noticeably shivering.. now it seemed really odd that I was on a bike instead of skis.
Snow pelted our faces, our wet gear started to freeze. In an effort to keep warm, we quickly started making our way down, stopping a little less this time around. It went rather smoothly, though I will admit to bailing at one point (and have a pretty gnarly bruise to prove it). Mud and rain water coating our faces, we finally reached the village and went in to warm up and have lunch at the Red Antler.
Unfortunately, due to worsening conditions, organizers decided to cancel the afternoon activities. Though, I’ll admit I wasn’t that upset. It took me about 45 minutes to stop shaking.
SilverStar graciously treated us all to an epic day and though conditions weren’t optimal, it was definitely a thrill. I definitely plan on trying downhill biking again (but hopefully it’ll be a little warmer next time).
The mountain opened for the summer season as scheduled Friday, June 21. SilverStar Bike Park top is at 1915 m (6280 ft), with a vertical ride drop of 760m to the bottom at 1155 m (3780 ft) and caters to riders of all skill levels.
There are 18 downhill bike trails, 21 cross-country bike trails, four hiking only trails, two multi-use trails now open until mid-September.
Those uninterested in biking can also opt to hike or hitch a ride on the gondola for some sightseeing.
Brieanna Charlebois is a Vernon Morning Star reporter.