Stand up, bend your knees and keep your feet level.”
Mountain bike expert Jordie Lunn balances effortlessly as he demonstrates technique.
As a first-time mountain biker, I listen intently as the course designer for Bear Mountain Resort offers up the basics while I look over my dress pants and dress shoes. I throw a hoody over my dress shirt – perhaps I’m not as prepared as I could have been – but there is no turning back. I have been looking forward to this for weeks.
Lunn gives my bike a last look, turning a dial on my shocks before we head out.
“It’s just an adjustment,” he says. “It’ll make it a little stiffer for you.” That may be a polite way of saying my 270 lbs. is a little heavy for the bike’s current shock settings, but I don’t say anything as we pedal into Bike Park Avenue for my first taste of the course.
Heading into the first turn, the first thing I notice is the view from the top of the mountain, down the trail and into Bear Mountain’s Valley course. I’ve been here before, but seeing the winding paths whisk underneath my wheels, while the mountains and trees edged ever so slowly by us, strikes me as unique.
Despite taking the corners gingerly, I’m forced to stop on my way down after taking a turn too straight. Lunn doesn’t have that problem, as his bike weaves through the course, his wheels almost glued to the trail even as he navigates almost sideways along the walls of the steeper embankments.
“(Sharper turns) are a commitment thing … and trusting your bike,” he says. “Your tires are going to hook up, but that all comes with time and experience right?”
He points at one of my knees: one is completely rigid, with most of my weight on that side of the bike – just like he told me not to do. I’m also sitting on the seat as we decline, without realizing it. I’m zero for three as we cross a golf cart passage and make our way down a grassy hill and underneath a canopy of trees. We are now on the single-track portion of the trail, where even the smell is beautiful.
Here the riding is slightly more challenging, with uphills to accompany the downs and roots and foliage providing natural obstacles. The final incline takes us to a clearing, where the buzz of a generator cuts through the silence and a giant airbag languishes just beyond a 6.5-foot high ramp.
“With the air bag, anybody can hit it, it just takes a bit of guts to hit the first time,” Lunn says.
Climbing to the top of the hill that declines into the ramp, I accept that this is happening. The 17-year mountain bike professional’s voice is in my ear as I bear down on the handlebars. “You got this,” he says.
Against my better judgment I line myself up at the top of the embankment as Lunn reminds me not to let go of the bike, and to “pre-load,” or press down on the handle bars as I glide into the ramp.
Slowly I step off the ground onto the pedals, pushing off into the descent that launches me further from the earth than I have ever been without being on my feet. One second I’m on top of the hill, the next I’m preloading my bike, a moment later I am airborne. Today I’m wondering how to tell me wife I want to buy a mountain bike.
Did you know?
- The Family Flow Trail is one of many mountain bike features at Bear Mountain Resort. The beginner-oriented trail is growing, with a full 5-km loop set for completion in March.
- All trails on the mountain are open to the public. Use your own bike or rent one at The Hub in the North Langford Adventure Centre. Cyclists are encouraged to check in at The Hub to learn about the trails before heading out.
- The bike park, featuring big jumps and an airbag, is the only membership-required area. Participants must sign a waiver and can only use the park when it is open and a safety attendant is on site.