New group seeks to unlock Sun Peaks’ biking potential

SPRTA BikeAny cross-country mountain biker in Sun Peaks can see the area has a huge amount of untapped potential — boasting terrain similar to other B.C. riding havens like Squamish, but lacking a driving force to develop a top-class trail network.

That’s all set to change, after a group of local riders have gotten together to put cross-country biking on the map, literally.

Jase Petersen, Mike Sleziak, Meghan Kolodka and Zac Cunningham are passionate about their biking, and the love of their sport has led them to form the Sun Peaks Recreational Trails Association (SPRTA), an action group dedicated to developing and improving Sun Peaks’ cross-country biking.

The group are ideally placed in the mountain biking community. Petersen is an experienced guide, while Sleziak and Cunningham work in the Sun Peaks Resort Elevation bike store. These roles have given them the opportunity to hear directly from local and visiting riders about what they want to see in Sun Peaks.

A recent trip gave Sleziak, Cunningham and Petersen the opportunity to ride trails in Squamish and North Vancouver, and inspired the group to form SPRTA.

“Seeing the standard of the trail network in Squamish got us all excited, and kick-started the idea for us to develop something similar here,” Petersen said.

“There’s a lot of potential for not just developing cross-country biking trails, but trails that could also be used for snowshoeing, horse riding, or dogsledding.”

Sleziak says SPRTA’s vision was a win-win for local riders and visitors.

“More trails and a better network is beneficial to everyone. Everybody we’ve been talking to is stoked about it for sure,” Sleziak said.

Cunningham says he hopes to see SPRTA grow the local trail network, so visiting riders leave “fully satisfied.”

“What we do have is great, but it leaves people wanting more. I left after riding in Squamish feeling fully satisfied, and I want people to leave Sun Peaks feeling the same way,” Cunningham said.

While SPRTA is still in early stages, Petersen says they have a lot of support from the community and have had positive feedback from Sun Peaks Resort Corporation (SPRC) and the Sun Peaks Municipality. A collaborative approach will allow SPRTA to develop a cross-country network to complement and enhance existing and planned trails on offer by SPRC.

Thompson Rivers University is also keen to collaborate with SPRTA, with staff and students looking to assist in the development of new trails as part of their Land Use Management and Tourism course.

Petersen says the group has plans to hold an AGM and elect a board in the near future. The group will then start setting goals and putting planning in place to hit the ground running — or riding — once the snow thaws in early 2015.

“We’ll certainly be keeping the community posted as things progress, and if anyone wants to contribute, track one of us down and have a chat.”