Recent Events

Sprockids/Whistler Blackcomb
XC/Freeride Camp for the Generations

People talk about “Good Karma” and the mystical power that it has in determining the fate of an individual or group. I am not sure of how the “Powers that Be” determine such things, but there definitely was an aura of “Good Karma” guiding our group of Sprockids “Coastriders” and their parents through our time up at Whistler, British Columbia. The idea behind this camp was to bring together a group of Sprockids teenagers and their parents for a weekend of riding and numerous other activities that enabled them to spend quality time together, to rediscover each other.
For many families the daily grind of life doesn’t seem to leave them with much energy and time to become involved in activities that are exciting, fun, rewarding, and involve all members of the family. Mountain biking is unique, in that it brings together all ages and provides them with an activity that all can participate in.
The camp officially stared on Saturday September 14th, but many of us headed up to the mountain on the Friday, which just happened to be the 13th. Superstitious, maybe just a little, but I definitely took it easy driving the Sea to Sky highway, pulling the Sprockids Trailer. Some of our group were coming up later. At around 11:00 PM I received a call that there had been a train derailment and that this group wouldn’t arrive until around 1:30 AM. Things were starting off a little strange. Fortunately, the next day we awoke to brilliant sunshine, warm temperatures and high expectations for an awesome day of riding
After breakfast we all returned to the trailer to choose our “ride” for the day; then, the group headed over to Rebagliati park to link up with Mark Dobson, Whistler Blackcomb’s Youth Coordinator. At the park we were introduced to Tom, Brian, Mike and Daamiann who were going to be our guides for the day.
After dividing into our groups we were off to explore some of the fantastic trails that Whistler has to offer. Our destination for the morning was the network of trails known as “A River Runs Through It.” These trails offer riders a wide variety of challenges ranging from rocks and roots to berms, log rides, stunts and teeter totters, everything to test a rider’s skills and adventurous spirit. For many of the adults, this was their first experience with such a variety of challenges. And just to keep us honest, much of our riding throughout the day was video taped. There would be no room for tall tales at the evening’s BBQ.
After three hours of West Coast Mountain riding at its best we all desperately in need of nourishment. For this, we headed back to Rebagliati Park for lunch.
After refueling, it was time for bringing the teenagers and their parents together for a fun “Poker Ride.” If you have never done one, the object is to complete a number of stunts and challenges while participating with as much laughter and smiles as possible. This was not a race, rather a time for parents and the teenagers to share their accomplishments. The ride took a little under two hours. Afterwards, the gang returned to the cars and trailer to load up, then returned to our accommodation for a much needed shower and a change of clothes. Next, we headed off to Alpine Meadows Park for a softball game and BBQ. The setting for the game was spectacular, the mountains on either side and the sun still providing us with light.
The game was a great team building activity and kept everyone busy while Mark, our host for the weekend, performed magic on the grill. Hamburgers never tasted so good! As the sun disappeared we packed up and returned to Whistler Blackcomb Staff Housing. The trouble with teenagers is that they bounce back too quickly and now they wanted to go ride the skate bowl park. So wearing their protective gear, off they went. As for the parents, we took advantage of this quiet time, gathering together to settle down in some cozy lounge chairs and enjoying some much needed rest.
The weather report for Sunday indicated that rain was going to arrive, but we awoke to another morning of sun with just a few white giants floating atop the mountains. After a quick breakfast we suited up in our body armor, long fingered gloves and full face helmets as we traded in our cross country rigs and clipless pedals for some fat-tired downhill monsters. The group looked more like a band of Huns out to conquer an unsuspecting village of peasants, than a group of parents and teenagers out for a day of bonding. Once again we met with some more good news. The mountain was going to loan us some of the guides’ personal dual suspension bikes. This meant that more than half of our group were on dual suspension bikes, set up for freeriding. For many of the riders this was their first time on such a bike, and after their first run you couldn’t pry these bikes out of their hands. From there, it was over to the chair lift that would whisk us up to “mid-station,” where our decents would begin.
Whistler’s Mountain Bike Park is set up in a fashion similar to a ski hill. The runs are designated “beginners, intermediate, and expert.” The more advanced groups headed for the “A-Line,” an expert run with huge berms, table tops, drops off, and numerous other challenges that would get any rider’s heart pumping. Our group began on the “B-Line,” which is a beginners/intermediate run that presents the riders with a variety of challenges, yet does so in a manner that helps to build a rider’s confidence. Part way down the mountain we darted off onto a run called “Heart of Darkness.” This wound its way through trees and along a steep embankment. Before we knew it we were back on the lift and heading up for more.
The rest of the morning was full of adventure, providing material for countless stories. Now it was time for lunch and we found ourselves boarding the gondola, heading for the top of Whistler where we would be dining among the clouds.
After a fabulous feast and plenty of story swapping, we once again suited up in preparation for a 5000’ decent. What a treat, to be able to ride from the top of Whistler down to the valley floor.
We rode through the beautiful alpine meadows, across rocky slopes, along high speed fire roads, then back into the trails of the mountain bike park. The next challenge was the “Jump Park.” Here our guides taught us proper techniques for “getting air” off “table tops” and safely landing “drop-offs.” The set up allowed all of us to start on a level that suited our skills, experience, and fear factor. It was amazing to see how quickly the members of our group advanced. Within half an hour some of our riders were going off the third largest ramp, and grabbing huge air with the skill and form of a pro. All the while, the video camera was rolling to record these events for posterity.
Far too soon, our riding day had come to an end. Our group conjugated at the base of the mountain on the patio of the GLC (Garibaldi Lift Company) for nachos and refreshments. While replenishing our bodies, laughter, good natured ribbing, and stories, whirled around the tables reflected the enthusiasm and positive energy of the weekend. It now was time to declare the winner of the poker run and hand out our draw prizes. Everyone came away with at least one fantastic prize to remind them of the weekend. Sadly, it was time for our tribe to head down the Sea to Sky highway, where the rain drops started to fall. Before long it was pouring rain, but that didn’t seem to matter. Our perfect weekend was over and the rain only served as an exclamation mark for our adventure.
So what was this weekend all about? The idea was to bring together teenagers and their parents together and provide them with the opportunity to discover the excitement and adventure of mountain biking. It was amazing to witness the riding skills and self esteem of every participant dramatically improve over the two days. This can be directly contributed to the excellent instruction and guidance provided by our Whistler instructors. Quickly assessing each individual’s riding ability and confidence level, they provided the necessary instruction and encouragement that took all of us to new heights.
Throughout the weekend you could see parents and their kids connecting on many levels. Teenagers were seeing their parents trying, and accomplishing things that they never thought they were capable of. Many of the teenagers assumed the role of mentor, helping parents discover the world of mountain biking. As adults, we become so consumed with “taking care of business” that we often forget how to play. This weekend gave us permission to do just that. We were allowed to step out of our roles as adults and for the time being have fun with our children. Throughout the weekend one could often look around and witness parents and teenagers giving each other “high fives,” encouraging comments and smiles of respect, pride and affection.
Was the weekend a success? You bet it was! Entering the camp, many of the participants had dabbled in mountain biking, but by the end everyone was hooked for life.
They had discovered the serenity and unique experiences of xc riding, and the adrenaline rush that is the world of the freeriding/gravity crowd. For the participants, there was no controversy or conflict between the two styles of riding. It was just biking. On a more personal level the adults had rediscovered their adventurous spirit, while connecting with their teenager. The teenagers saw a whole new dimension to their parents, while discovering their own inner strengths and talents. Everyone came away personal highlights, and agreed that the weekend was a huge success, that everyone should do one of these camp at least once in their lives.

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