By Steve Storey
Another season with Knolly has come and gone. Like many preceding it, the year was packed full of adventures, incredible memories, and some damn fun races. Life’s become a blur at times and I find myself looking back each season thinking how lucky I am to experience so much in life. Much of it, if not all, thanks to mountain biking.
Case in point, an impromptu trip to Italy late 2022. I ended off that season by qualifying for the EWS Trophy Of Nations. A chance to represent Canada on the international stage. Ending that year on a note of that calibre led me to believe this last season wouldn’t be quite as memorable. Not at all true...You can read more about that experience here.
My 2023 kicked off late due to an extra helping of winter at home. Unseasonably cold temperatures and low snow levels around the Sea To Sky meant trails were late to emerge from their hibernation. Often I’d have a trip planned somewhere warm but that wasn’t in the cards. A couple of trips to Bellingham stood in place and eased the 2 wheeled withdrawal. It’s turned into a bit of a winter escape for my friends and I. We’ve discovered over the years how much of a gem that place is on and off the bike. I won’t get too much into it as I don’t want to get called out for dooming the spot ;)
Since I didn’t have any big trips planned for the first half of the season it gave me the opportunity to focus on road trips within BC and racing the Canadian Enduro League series. The CEL events were some of my favourite weekends of the year. The riding at Vedder, Kamloops, Revelstoke, and Sun Peaks after a few years absence was just what I needed. Getting to enjoy it with some of my favourite people still has me reminiscing back to dreamy days of summer. The cherry on the proverbial cake was taking the Western, National champs, and Overall titles in the vets category which I levelled up to this season after 3 years of eligibility. The crew at CEL puts on legendary events. Combining some of BC’s best trails with the best vibe. If you haven’t raced one of their enduros before, put it on the list for next year.
Staying close to home this year also enabled me to spend more time than ever in the alpine. If I wasn’t sleeping on top of a mountain to shoot sunset and sunrise, I’d be up there all day riding and searching out lines. Some peaks were discovered to be not so rideable while others were a virtual treasure trove. Some may have been lines potentially never ridden before! It was a rewarding endeavour regardless of success. Seeing new vistas of your extended backyard more than made every journey worth it. I even managed to recruit a few apprehensive friends which made those big days even more memorable. These backyard adventures were some of
the best shoots I’ve ever been a part of. Each trip resulted in a solid selection of bangers. On top of that, we may have unintentionally kickstarted what may be my next drone edit. Super excited to share these with everyone soon.
As usual, Summer in Whistler was every bit of magic as it could be. Endless warm sunny days, empty evening bike park laps, Phat Wednesday DH racing, and Toonie XC’s. You know you live in the right place when you’re just as excited about weekdays as you are the weekend. Highlight as always being the ultra competitive world champs beer league of Phat Wednesday racing. You can’t beat a $5 DH race series where you get to compete for fastest in Whistler against World Cup racers, local heroes, and your closest friends who you get the privilege of talking mad shit to as long as you’re faster that day.
The big surprise highlight for me this year was the Toonie XC’s. It’s long been considered the best deal in town, $2 for a race, dinner, and beers. I’ve partaken occasionally but haven’t truly competed in one for many years. I decided to give it a go this season at the last two races and ended up 3rd....twice! There’s a lot of fit, XC powerhouses in town. To be able to compete with them and grab a podium spot on my Fugitive which I also used at the Harper Enduro this year was probably my most rewarding accomplishment of the season. This also served as a reminder that XC is insanely, freaking hard. So this definitely won’t be a new direction for me.
Respect to the people that do this ‘for fun’ every week through the majority of the season.
After an incredible season at home it was time to scratch the adventure itch and venture somewhere different. An opportunity came up to join Big Mountain Adventures on their Nepal trip. Exploring some of Nepal’s wildest terrain shooting photos and video with Ben Haggar was just thing to scratch that itch. It’s amazing how much riding you can do and how many locations you can score on a well organized trip like theirs. From national parks on the outskirts of Kathmandu, through the ancient alleys and temples of Bhaktapur, and among the towering 8000m peaks of the Mustang Valley, each day was so incredibly varied. Wild trails, friendly locals, and some of the most awe-inspiring mountains I’ve ever personally laid eyes on already has me planning my return. The free ride potential alone is enough to have me buying that ticket back!
With 2024 now here, I’m excited to be staring down an action packed year. I’ll be going into my 11th season with Knolly which kind of blows my mind. It’s been a wild ride throughout the last 10 years on so many incredible bikes. This year I’ll be riding the new Chilcotin, the Fugitive, and the Delirium. I’ll be riding them at home in the bike park, in the alpine, and some exotic locales around the world. First up, Finale Ligure and Biesko Biala for the first two EDR races of the year. Then a trip to Kyrgyzstan at the end of summer to ride and shoot some mountain top adventures. In between? Well, a lot of the same and hopefully a few surprise trips somewhere special!
See ya on the trails!
Steve Storey, Ben Haggar (Nepal photo), Ronia Nash (Enduro National Champs at Crankworx), Danny Martins (podium photo)