Many of us have fond memories of learning to ride a bike along the sidewalk or around the local cul-de-sac. When those training wheels finally come off, it’s a moment full of wonder and thrill. Learning to ride a mountain bike down fast and flowy dirt trails is something else entirely—thrill, wonder…and gravity.
We sat down with local biking advocate Chris Martin, Head Coach of the KBRA Kid’s League and owner of DMB Mountain Bike Coaching, for a chat about biking in Kamloops. Here is what he had to say about the best places to ride, the clubs and groups to join, and why this place is such a great spot for kids, families, and those just learning to ride.
Best Places to Ride
One of Kamloops’ newest bike areas also happens to be one of the best places for kids and learners to ride. The KBRA Kids Zone at Dufferin Park is a six-segment loop of trails with climbs, turns, and twists to loop and lap until dark. Kids, families, and beginners can test their skills on the whoops and rocks, and hone tricks in the skills area. The KBRA Kids League hosts their camps and clinics here, too. It’s where Chris passes on his passion for mountain biking to future little rippers, introducing them to the joy of mountain biking.
Want to know a few of Chris’ other favourite places to ride with the little ones? He recommends the Lac du Bois area, or “Batch” as the locals call it. This zone sits above the Bachelor Heights subdivision on Kamloops’ North Shore and is perfect for beginners looking to polish their skills with green and blue trails. This is classic Kamloops riding, with a scenery of golden grasslands and rolling sagebrush hills.
The Kamloops Bike Ranch is another great place for those starting out. At first glance, the jumps and drops this place is known for, are intimidating. But, you just have to remember that there is always more than one way down. Before letting gravity do the work, cruise the little jumps, easy rollers, and smaller, less-challenging obstacles in the new skill's centre and pump track at the top of the park. When it’s time to descend, True Grit or Blazing Saddles are the green trails (read: beginner) ways down.
When you're ready to move from beginner to intermediate, Chris likes to send people over to the Pineview Valley area. Here, you can test your legs on a buffed climbing trail before choosing from over 40 green and blue trails for your adventure down.
Join The Club
Getting more kids involved in mountain biking is what Chris, Head Coach of KRBA Kid’s League, is all about. Chris, along with a host of other professional mountain bike coaches—including Olympic medallist and World Cup winner Catherine Pendrel—introduce kids aged 7-13 to the joy of riding on two wheels.
Students get to work on the fundamentals over the course of three coaching sessions, test what they know with two opportunities to join a race, and receive a jersey for participating. For the older kids, there is the cross-country focused KRBA Teen League, ideal for those who have aged out of the Kids League. These camps all fill up quickly (2022 is already full), so be sure to stay tuned for registration opportunities for next year.
Chris also runs DMB Mountain Bike Coaching for kids looking to hone their skills. These camps are for kids aged 6-12, with options for those with differing skill levels. Chris also offers a week-long DMB Girls Only camp, helping to promote gender inclusivity in biking.
Meet the Community
The more people riding bikes, the better biking becomes for everyone. Grab your crew of bikers and head to the Wednesday Night Group Rides hosted by the Kamloops Bike Riders Association. These group rides are open to everyone, no matter your skill level, age, or two-wheel setup. These inclusive rides are open to anyone looking to get out. An annual KBRA membership for $20 per person is required and can be purchased in advance online. It’s all about having fun with bike-minded people. Check the Facebook page every Monday for each weeks’ meet-up location.
Reality Check: It’s important to state that ability is never strictly dictated by age. As a 35-year-old mountain biker, I know all too well that there are kids riding faster, better, and more technical trails than I ever could.