It’s a midweek afternoon in late October and the evening sun is just beginning to fire. Robbie, their oldest son, just got home from school, the kids are ready to shred, and Matt Hunter’s loading up the bikes. It’s a mellow rendition of a scramble to ride and enjoy the last two hours of light. We gather helmets, bikes, whatever other gear might be needed, and snacks. Lots of snacks. “It’s a pretty heavily used quote we’ve all heard from you,” I mention to Matt, “That riding has shaped your life. I’m sure you’ve got some points to elaborate on that?" Matt stares at me for a moment and admits, “Yep,” before securing the last bike to the rack and hopping into the driver's seat.
On our way to the Kamloops Bike Ranch, we reminisce on older days of riding and what it was like for Matt growing up in Kamloops. The Rose Hill days are fond memories; a time when mountain biking was a little looser and a lot less mainstream. “Every day there would be people shuttling those trails. You could show up there, hop in with a crew, see how many bikes could fit on a truck and how many laps we could fit in the day.” Matt says as he remembers those early days of riding as liberating. “The trails were a lot different back then. Lots of big jumps and questionable builds” laughs Matt. “I liked those rougher times for sure. But sketchy stunts are only sweet for so long. I’m happy about the way mountain biking has grown up and I really appreciate the quality of all the new builds.”
Once we are cruising through the Ranch, we continue our conversation as we roll through a mellow section behind the kids. When asked about mountain biking with his kids, Matt said, “That’s something I think that's so cool about mountain biking with the family - I’m not cheering from the bleachers for the boys to shred the next turn, I’m on the trail shredding that turn with them.”
After our ride and snacks, we head home under the cool purples and oranges of the evening sky. Matt, Nikki, Russell, and Robbie are all stoked they snuck a ride in. “That’s a big focus for us every day,” explains Matt, “It doesn’t really matter if it’s a long ride or a short ride, even just a mellow cruise around the neighbourhood has a centering effect on our day.” Once we make it back to Matt’s place and unload bikes, we make dinner and laugh our way through stories of the shapes biking has grown through, and we agree that riding in Kamloops keeps getting better.
“No I’m never leaving,” says Matt, when I ask if he can imagine living anywhere other than Kamloops. “Once you drop deep into mountain biking in Kamloops, there's a community where you find friends, get outside, and admire the landscape. And that’s something I love and feel stoked to be a part of.”