The first time I traveled to the Cariboo Chilcotin region I instantly fell in love with the landscapes. Coming from the mountainous Kootenay’s the rolling grasslands and open skies were very much a foreign sight. Growing up snowboarding in the mountains where a blanket of snow gives you the freedom to ride almost anywhere, looking for natural features to hit knowing there will be a soft landing, the grasslands and rolling hills had me dreaming of riding my bike the same way. What blew my mind next was all of the big washouts along the river banks; long chutes that you see in the winter coming off of tall mountain peaks. It was as if the river had washed away the sides of the banks into perfect mountain bike freeride lines. Every straight and bend in the river offering up something unique. The riding community in this area figured this out ages ago – hiking with their bikes to the top to shred back down the natural bike park – no trail necessary. Always laughing, rarely taking the same line twice and stoked to shred, they showed me the possibilities that lie in these lands.
Knowing what is going to ride well and be manageable on a bike is the largest challenge of big mountain free riding. From a distance the shredding possibilities look endless however in your mind you’re always wondering… Is the dirt going to be soft enough? Will I be able to control my speed? How is the run out – am i going to be able to stop in time? Is it too rocky or rain rutted? I have committed a lot of time to exploring this terrain in attempts push the limits of what is ridable. The Chilcotin and Fraser River have provided some of the most amazing lines I have ever ridden on my bike. The local friends I have made and the trips we have shared together camped out on the river for weeks at a time waking up with nothing to do but ride makes this one of my favourite places.
I admit, I was fairly naive of the history of this area. My dad had grown up for the beginning of his childhood in Puntzi Mountain. Two and a half hours west of Williams Lake, where the American army had set up a radar base following the second world war. My grandfather had moved his family to Puntzi to work at the air base after serving in the Canadian Airforce during WWII. Other than this I didn’t known much of this area, its history, its people, or culture.
The land we are riding on is the traditional territory of the Stswecemc Xget’tem First Nation. Prior to filming we contacted them for permission to explore and ride our bikes here. I couldn’t be more thankful and honoured to have their blessing and the opportunity to see the land through their eyes and learn a little bit more about the deep history and culture of the area. For generations the Stswecemc Xget’tem people lived with the land, truly one with their environment, living in healthy communities, fishing the rivers, understanding all the plants and animals, moving in unison with the seasons and respecting all the creator has provided.
We are living in a very different fast paced world, zipping around on mountain bikes, plugged into our phones, social media and the internet – always rushing. I encourage everyone to learn the history of where they live and find ways to honour and preserve the land and cultures that were here before. Slow down and draw from the land the important ingredients that have been here inspiring people for thousands of years. We can learn so much from this way of life and bring more meaningfulness into our own.
Special Thanks to:
Hank Adams and the Stswecemc Xget’tem First Nation
Ian Ritz and team at Chromag
Director of Photography: Mitch Cheek
Filmed by: Mitch Cheek and Chad Christensen
Edited by: Tamas Forde
“Wires” Performed by Red Fang
Courtesy of: Relapse Records
By arrangement with The Orchard
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