2018 proved to be a year of regrowth for the Williams Lake mountain biking community after the devastation and disruption caused by the 2017 wildfires.
Several major projects were able to be completed, while many other refinements and adjustments continued to be made as riders reacquainted themselves with all the Cariboo’s vast trail networks have to offer.
Through collaboration between the Williams Lake Cycling Club, the Cariboo Mountain Bike Consortium and other local stakeholders, the expansion and legalization of the largest project on the riding community’s radar — the Desous Mountain Trail Network — became a reality.
“After 25 years of work we have a real riding destination at Desous Mountain,” said WLCC director and community mountain biking legend and advocate, Mark Savard.
Seventeen trails have been completed at Desous Mountain — a 30-minute drive southwest of Williams Lake — with something for all levels of riders to enjoy, Savard said, plus a campsite and the ability to host world-class cycling events to attract visitors from throughout the province and the world.
This summer marked the completion of the 11 kilometre, 1,014-metre climbing trail from the Fraser River to the summit of Desous Mountain dubbed ‘Shiney Badger Hidden Canyon.’
“It is amazing,” Savard said of the two-directional trail. “Hikers will love this trail, too, as it has a picnic table in the hidden canyon to enjoy.”
Also ready to ride at Desous Mountain is a kids trial flowing around the outside of the campsite, which Savard said should help provide hours of family fun.
A little closer to home, the Fox Mountain Trial Network saw regular maintenance and had signage work and fine tuning of popular trails conducted, while the Tourism Discovery Centre trail connection proved to once again be very popular with all types of trail lovers, Savard said.
Work continued on the large portion of the Chief William climbing trail destroyed during the 2017 wildfires, and will be rebuilt as time and funding permits, he said.
“Our Westsyde trails saw a huge batch of refinements, and we made a few of the main trails rideable in both directions,” Savard said.
“It was a lot of work, but huge payback for riders.”
Cleanup efforts were also conducted following beetle salvage work from the Williams Lake Community Forest.
“Our Southside network didn’t need the same level of work as in early 2017, but had a lot of traffic with the refinement of the Russet Bluff section,” Savard noted.
The Soda Creek Indian Band (Xat’sull First Nation) has also been busy working on the Mountain House Ridge Trail — roughly nine kilometres of ridge riding overlooking unique terrain just north of Williams Lake.
Local professional mountain biker James Doerfling was also busy in the Boitanio Bike park this past spring with his new company, Jimco Services, reworking features and lines in the park, which Savard said were widely accepted by the community.
“A big thank you to the City of Williams Lake for their support on this community asset,” he said.
The WLCC also hosted a number of social and community events throughout the riding season including group rides and grassroots get togethers.
“We decided to take the year off from hosting large events with all the trail works to complete that 2017 put on hold,” Savard added.
“But a lot of visitors made Williams Lake a must do in 2018, until the smoke [from wildfires] put the brakes on that in August.”
WLCC president Shawn Lewis echoed Savard’s sentiments of 2018 being a bounce-back year, and added events like the Boitanio Park Bike Jam were extremely successful as close to 60 riders took part.
The Boys and Girls Club of Williams Lake and District has also jumped on board with the WLCC to support local youth and provide consistent youth rides throughout the cycling season.
The annual Pumpkin Ride this past Halloween was also a hit as riders completed a lap in the Dog Creek area with adaptive bike rider Brayden Methot leading the entire group of 70-plus cyclists.
“A big thank you to Kenny and Adele McLearn for hosting us later that evening,” Lewis said.
Following, Lewis noted the Hammer and Hurl on Nov. 11 saw close to 20 riders enjoy the newly-built Mountain House Ridge trail for the annual ride.
“That is our way of remembering the fallen and usually signifies the end of the riding season is upon us,” Lewis said.
And while the snow has yet to accumulate in the city, Savard said many members of the riding community are busy getting their fat bikes dialed in for the winter riding season.
“For 2019 we hope to continue to refine our amazing trail network for locals and visitors to enjoy,” he said.
“We are very proud of our collaboration with all the First Nations communities in the region and we hope to continue to expand riding opportunities with them.”
Savard added a major project on the go for next year is to finish the rebuild of trails lost to fire and to reconnect zones that are adversely impacted.
Lewis said the WLCC is also continuing to seek funding through multiple partners to help with better maintenance, tighter signage and further refinements across all networks for 2019 with a focus on the Westsyde and Desous.
For more cycling-related information visit www.ridethecariboo.ca. For mountain bikers in the area Savard recommends downloading a free app called Trail Forks from the app store, or from Pinkbike.
“A big thank you to the Province with support through Recreation Sites and Trails, the Cariboo Regional District, the City of Williams Lake, volunteers and everyone that rode or just got outdoors on the trails,” Savard said.