“Hey Brent! Where are we going today?”
“The town tour!”
And off we set into Centennial Park – 26 riders strong – through easy, flowy trails along the Greenbelt; across the Illecillewaet Bridge, past the Selkirk Saddle Club, up a steep climb to Arrow Heights, across Airport Way, into a network of trails in the woods around Williamson’s Lake. We stopped at the beach for a breather, and then ducked back into the woods, up to Camozzi Road to some trails that took us down to the Illecillewaet River, then over to maze of trails on CPR Hill where we put our headlamps on, and finally to the River City Pub, where beer and nachos awaited.
It was a mix of rolling single track, easy double-track; steep technical downhill sections and only a little bit of pavement – all within the city boundaries. It was Thursday – the night of the weekly Pedal and Pint ride, when upwards of 30 people meet up every week to explore Revelstoke’s single-track network – both the official and unofficial trails.
The first pedal and pint ride was eight years ago when Brent Strand decided to start up a group ride. Since then, the rides have gone every Thursday, rain, snow or shine. He’s been stood up twice, but he still went for a ride and stopped off at the River City Pub afterwards. He still leads the rides, choosing the routes and keeping everyone together. He’s loud and enthusiastic, and a passionate mountain biker. He knows every trail in the area, and more.
A typical pedal and pint ride involves goes 20-25 kilometres, and involves two to three hours of riding. The rides all start outside the community centre and branch out from there. The rides have a reputation of being tough, and to say otherwise would be lying. Still, while the pace can be fast, stops are frequent and no one is left behind. That’s the first rule of pedal and pint (the second and third are to pay for what you eat and drink, and tip the waitress well).
Some rides go up to the 5K loop in Mount Revelstoke National Park, with some laps of the CPR Hill trails thrown in for good measure. Others times, it’s off to Mt Macpherson to hit up the great trail network there. Once we biked through the Big Eddy to an old dirt bike trail that connected us to the Boulder Mountain downhill trails and a couple of fast descents.
Then there was Relentless, which more than lived up to its name. We biked out south of town along Airport Way turning off onto what looked like an old logging road that gradually faded into grown over single track. The narrower it got, the steeper it was until finally it plateaued and we had a nice, flowy descent that linked up with the Mt. Cartier trail. We biked to the viewpoint overlooking the Upper Arrow Lake, turned around and ripped back down to the road. It was a trail that isn’t for the faint of hard, but is part of the beauty of the rides – they’re a chance to explore new trails, or see old ones in a new light, and a chance to push yourself
The most people to show up for a ride is 37. Last summer, about 30 people showed up to bike the epic Sale Mountain downhill trail. By the time the shuttles delivered everyone to the top, it had started raining. Still, down everyone went.
In a thunder storm.
In the dark.
Afterwards, while waiting for the stragglers to arrive, everyone hung around Martha Creek Provincial Park drinking beers next to an illuminated red mountain bike. It was the closest thing to a fire available on that cold night. Two visitors from Canmore said we were nuts. They were probably right.
Last year the crew set a new record by pedaling for 37 weeks straight. The final ride was in December with snow on the ground. Still, a few hardy souls showed up, pedaled from one end of CPR Hill to the other and then went to the bar.
Pedal and Pint rides leave from outside the community centre every Thursday at 6 p.m. Bring a headlamp, because you migh be biking until it’s dark.