A B.C. Mountain Biking Destination|
Monday, September 20, 1999
What struck me most as we pulled into the loading/unloading area weren't the downhillers streaking by. I can't say that seeing a bridal party hurry past a bunch of muddy mountain bikers waiting to hose off their bikes really grabbed my attention either. I didn't even blink when the sun broke through the clouds and showed me a glimmer of the beautiful mountains I was about to race in. I was focussed on the outdoor hot tubs, four in plain view, on outdoor balconies. I could soak after my race! My girlfriend and I were about to spend two days and one night at a fantastic ski resort, in an amazing suite, with great restaurants...oh yeah, and I would be racing in the Canada Cup Finals cross-country race. Sigh, work never ends.
I'm trying to imagine how beautiful this place must be in the winter. A couple of brochures later and I can not only see how beautiful it is, but now I have my cross-country ski vacation destination! Maybe I'll learn how to snow board too. Silver Star may be hosting the final Canada Cup mountain bike race but it also boasts some of the best snow boarding and skiing in Canada. There's over 2,500 feet of elevation gain to the summit, two mountain faces, and one downhill run that lasts 5 miles. Maybe I'll re-learn how to downhill ski too! Enough of winter sports, today they should rest in my imagination. I have a race to get ready for...
My girlfriend and I were supposed to spend two nights at the Delta Silver Star Club Resort. Two nights and two days to get acquainted with the tiny resort town, pre-ride the cross-country course as much as I wanted, and talk with Silver Star's representative and the race organizers. We didn't make it our first night due to an untimely transmission problem in my relatively new import car. It made for a long night in neighboring Kamloops but we managed to get to Silver Star Saturday morning for at least one run of the course.
I really loved that course! They appear to be making it World Cup-worthy with a figure eight configuration that gives plenty of spectator views and an interesting mix of terrain. We headed up the ski hill on roads and a bit of single-track switch back. Nothing too scary, nothing too steep, just a long slow grind that tests your quads. We got to descend the ski hill too, zooming towards the village and through it, weaving among the condos and right behind the Chilcoot Conference Centre where my room was! My girlfriend joked about sipping coffee in bed while I raced the next day. After we wove through the village, it was up and over a small overpass, down through a mucky construction area, and back up part of another ski hill. You could sweat it up the hill and count t-bars on the way. The course designer gave us a little relief on some overgrown road and then into some quick and dirty, totally rooty, slippery single track with a few technical sections. After that, you just pop up a little hill, hit the feed zone, and you've done a loop. Oh yeah, you're mile-high, so watch out for the breath-sucking elevation. Not bad, I thought. I washed off my bike and tried not to disturb the wedding that was taking place at the Chilcoot Conference Centre. Awesome! A tiny chapel full of well dressed and well behaved folks that look like they wanted to be in this race. An usher tried to shush we cyclists at the door but I could still catch the downhillers hooting and hollering in the background. And now to our room...
I can only think of how cozy this place will be in the winter with about 4 other people! Our room had a fireplace, couch, dining room table and settings for eight, a full kitchen (WITH dishwasher), and a bedroom with a queen size bed and a set of bunk beds for the couple that doesn't get along or a pair of kids. The couch turns into a bed too...fight over that one because it's next to the fireplace. Great bathroom too. Shower then hit the hot tub after the race! I think the room goes for $150-225 in the winter, depending upon holiday time, and that's Canadian. A bargain for two couples willing to fight for the fireplace. Well appointed came to my girlfriend's mind too. It even had a teapot! The friendly staff also helped us out on race day. Not only did we get extra coffee (it was cold out there!) but they also let us stay a bit past check out time so I could have that shower and hot tub I keep mentioning. I won't forget their hospitality soon. We ate a great meal at the Putnam Station and settled in for the night.
Race day. Strange weather combining rain and sun and mist greeted me and the other racers but what do you expect on a mountain? I like racing in cool conditions, especially if I'm climbing ski hills between 5,200 and 6,2000 feet. Most eventful for me was screaming down the ski hill and bunny hopping a little rut so I wouldn't have to slow down too much but also trying not to crash in front of all those spectators! Spectators were peppered throughout the course, cheering, laughing, and shouting purely Canadian encouragement, "Way ta go, eh!". Post race had volunteers taking my bike so I could eat and drink from the provided spread, brag about passing in the technical single track, and regain my breath. Unfortunately, I had to travel back to Seattle as soon as possible and couldn't enjoy beer in the hot tubs with some other riders. That would have been heavenly.
Silver Star also hosts events as diverse as a Mountain Wildflower Festival (July), the Kelowna, BC Corvette Club (Aug), and the 24 Hours of Adrenaline Relay September 3-6. Oooh, I just spied a beer festival September 11and an Adidas 5 Peaks Mountain Running Series September 25-26. What a great mix for a vacation! I think I'll stick with my cross-country skiing plans and head back in late November when the snow is already thick here to host Canada's National Nordic Team high altitude camp. I've been to a few races at ski resorts this year and this cozy town has become my favorite even in the shortened amount of time I was able to spend here. You can drive here in about 4 hours from Vancouver or 6.5 hours from Seattle. Flying here isn't a problem either with airports in Kamloops and Kelowna, approximately 1 hour away by car from the mountain.