After gaining momentum in 2019, the Sun Peaks Recreational Trail Association (SPRTA) is looking at ways to take advantage of that energy during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last year the volunteer group hosted trail building nights to complete a new single track trail, called the SunBurf trail. It’s the first of many trails SPRTA plans to create in the community.
“This is a huge milestone for us as building recreational trails for Sun Peaks to enjoy is our mission,” said Carmen Ruiz, director of communications for SPRTA.
SPRTA president Sam Loxton said SunBurf, named by their members, should be open in a few weeks once it has dried.
“SunBurf will be made publicly visible on Trailforks and will officially open as soon as it is ready to ride. SPRTA will let the public know when that is via social media. The final trail will connect the end of Burfield Drive to the village. We have completed the section up in the forest behind the Fire Hall that parallels the road (and) Burf Outrun then ties into an existing bit of trail to connect to Sunburst Drive. We are currently working on an extension to the trail that will climb up past the bottom of the Burfield chairlift from the road.”
They also hosted a series of biking events for women called Ladies Who Shred to connect and support female riders.
This spring they were awarded a community grant from Sun Peaks Mountain Resort Municipality for $1,490 towards tools and trail building costs.
But big plans to continue this summer have been altered as COVID-19 impacted events, gatherings and fundraising opportunities.
“Although we’ve done a lot of hard work throughout the past year, obviously COVID-19 has affected us slightly,” Ruiz said. “Along with cancelling events and hosting our monthly meetings virtually, most of the grant and trail applications we’ve submitted have been put on hold.”
Despite the changes Ruiz said they have committed to maintain some trails near Mt. Morrisey this summer and hope to be able to hold trail building days in a way that safely aligns with new restrictions on gatherings and physical distancing.
She added they are aware of the financial impacts of the virus and will be extending all memberships for free.
The 110 members (a mix of adult, family and business memberships) will be extended to receive membership free of charge until June 1, 2021. Existing members who wish to support the group financially during this time can make a donation in lieu of their membership fees at a meeting or at SunPeaksTrails.com
New memberships this year will still be subject to fees.
“Like everyone else, we are adapting to this new normal but know that with the help of our members and stakeholders, we’ll come out of this stronger than before. That’s the beautiful thing about the biking community: like Sun Peaks, we are a tight knit group of people who are passionate about the sport and truly care about the well-being of local trail building associations and bike shops.
“A perfect example of this would be that both local and regional bike shops are seeing an increase in bike sales as biking has been recommended as a great way to get outdoors and get exercise.”
Ruiz acknowledged that bikers are excited to get outside but emphasized the need to do so responsibly.
“It’s also important for us to ensure that riders respect social distancing measures as well as the trails. Riders should avoid “getting sendy” to avoid overwhelming our hospitals, while being mindful of current rules and restrictions currently put in place. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, riders need to wait for proper trail conditions. Riding on wet trails only adds more stress on the trails and creates unnecessary maintenance work for trail builders.”
She explained most trails in Sun Peaks won’t be rideable until the end of May. Bikers can use the TrailForks website or the SPRTA Facebook page for updates on trail status.