Photos and editorial by Dane Perras
Rider credits at end of piece.
We got there past sunset and the fire was already going strong. Brent drove out early on the Coquihalla to get the best camp spot, whereas Ken and I drove North on the 99 highway and through the Duffey. The rest of the boys would get there shortly after, and it was time to unwind for a 4 day weekend of riding bikes.
Waking up in a bit of a haze the next day after a few beers consumed and campfire smoke inhaled, it was a bit tough to get going. The rain hitting the tent let you know that the typically dry and dusty Kamloops would be moist, possibly tacky. Coming from the North Shore, we are used to a lot worse and were looking forward to putting tires to dirt.
The first trail was 420, a short drive from the campsite and up the hill, it was a great lap to warm up on. It was immediately clear that the shore jank we were used to was nowhere to be seen. With wide open trails and perfect dirt – these trails were going to be fast.
420 led to the first chute that have helped put Savona on the map. Straight lines down steep open fields to cars waiting at the bottom. You can brake if you want to, but odds are you will still accelerate until you get to the bottom. The first chute was full of 4” rocks we like to call “baby heads.” Navigating and weaving through these reminded us of a few trails at home, but we came for speed - so we spent an hour clearing and raking the trail so you would straight line or drift to the bottom without dodging rocks.
Next up was Bone Collector. This trail was fast flow with the second half weaving side to side in a tight gulley. We didn’t anticipate the water runoff collecting on this trail, so we got completely caked in mud. Our bikes would carry an extra 5lbs of clay for the rest of the trip. There were lots of small side hits and a few rock gardens that would come at you fast as you sped around blinds corners. One lap here and we were soaked right through but high fiving at the cemetery – the bottom of the trail.
After lunch we decided to try our luck on Greenstone - a quick 25 minute drive East of Savona. The trails were quite a bit dryer but still had good moisture to push into the corners. We took turns shuttling the rest of the crew up and the guys found their flow. The trails here had lots of features to check out, and no shortage of gap jumps. Adrian, Ken, Jono and Kevin were all feeling sendy after adapting quickly to the speeds needed to clear some of the features.
We finished off the evening by rushing back to Savona to hit the chutes at sunset. The sky turned orange and pink on the first chute, and we raced to get to the bottom of the next two while we had light. The second chute is famous and despite the traffic, it was completely clear of rocks. The narrow trail was more of a rut full of black sandy soil. The narrow rut is deep enough that you don’t want to clip you pedals on the sides, and you have no room to turn or eject. It is full commitment – in “Death Grip” by Anthill Films Casey Brown sped down this slope at 96km/hr after pulling the brakes off her bike. Gnarly.
The last chute is a big steep sand slope down to the highway. With the last of the light hitting the top of the pink clouds, we didn’t waste too much time here. You can’t see the exit from the top of the drop in point, so you are dropping in hoping your bike skills can handle whatever is coming. Not being used to carving deep turns in sand, I’ll admit I used the tripod technique most of the way down. I’ll be looking for redemption on that one soon. The next few days would be spendtbouncing between Greenstone, Jameson, Harper mountains as well as a few areas including what one local called “the gnarliest trail in the interior.” I’ll have to let you find that one on your own. Happy hunting!
Photos and editorial by Dane Perras