Saskatchewan's mountain bike mecca
It is quickly becoming apparent to us that Saskatchewan is going to be booming with great trails in the next few years. There may not be visible mountain peaks but there are plenty of valleys, coulees, and topographical relief that provide consistent side slopes to create beautiful bench cut trails. Between provincial parks, national parks and local club riding areas, you'll never drive more a couple of hours to your next riding destination. While we haven't been much farther north than Saskatoon, it wouldn't surprise us if there are some riding gems up there too. Don't be too quick to dismiss the prairie provinces for your next mountain bike trip. There is the potential for a Canadian version of the IMBA Epic Maah Daah Hey Trail in this province.
Our week at Grasslands National Park started off cloudy, windy and cold. We worked with park staff in the East Block for a full day scouting possible trail locations from McGowan's welcome centre. The staff are currently renovating an old farm house and building a new shelter and bridge which will link users from that property to the prairie on the other side of Rock Creek. The area has great potential for future trails and features some amazing landscapes not commonly found in the prairies.
The next few days were spent with the trail crew to teach them hand building techniques and get them working through the design process. We're pretty confident that they will take what they have learned and create beautiful trails throughout the park. We are looking forward to visiting Grasslands again in a not-so-official capacity to enjoy more of its beauty and visit our friends at the park.
In conjunction with our visit to Grasslands National Park, we connected with the community of Swift Current to host a full trail building school. Ryan, the local builder, just moved to Swift Current from BC and quickly found an untouched valley to develop trails. Because of the new trails and their location close to town the number of mountain bikes being sold at the local shop, Big Sky Cycles, increased dramatically and now the town is home to a budding bike club.
We had a small but enthusiastic crew come out on Saturday. Dads and their kids, a city of Swift Current employee and one staff member from Grasslands National Park rounded out our crew. In three short hours we completed about 100 meters of brand new bench cut. At exactly 4 pm the kids were lined up with their bikes ready to test out their new trail. Smiles were on everyone's faces and laughter and whoops could be heard through the valley after each person rode the section over and over. Even after things had wrapped up the kids were still riding, timing each others runs on the new trail. We believe that soon enough Swift Current will be a hotbed of riding and the community will greatly benefit from these trails. This first section, when completed, will provide over half a kilometre of descending without needing to pedal or brake.
Thank you to Colin from Grasslands for arranging our visit at the Park and with the Swift Current crew. A shout out goes to Ryan, Karsen and Bryn; the crew at Grasslands. We hope you all have a great season! We can't wait to visit Ryan, Dan and the crew at Big Sky Cycles in Swift Current again soon, as well. Happy building to all the great folks in Saskatchewan this year!