A new organization aims to promote mountain biking, and cycling in general, in the area, and is kicking things off with a Bike Rodeo aimed at kids aged 5 to 10 years old on Sunday, June 12.
Travis Storkan recently founded the Ashcroft Off-Road Cycling Association (AORCA), and says he was inspired by his own off-road cycling experiences when he was growing up in Lillooet. Now an Ashcroft resident, Storkan is hoping to inspire a new generation of kids to take up cycling, and also hopes to help develop cycling trails around Ashcroft.
The upcoming bike rodeo takes place at the Ashcroft HUB from 10 a.m. to noon on June 12. “I’m hoping to get the RCMP to come and do some road safety, and Ashcroft Home Hardware has donated some lumber to build little obstacles for the kids to go up and over, like balance beams,” says Storkan. “It’s nothing they can get hurt on.
“Spoke in Motion is donating hats and water bottles as prizes. Highland Valley Teck is donating, and Safety Mart has donated hot dogs.”
Storkan says that participants will learn some cycling basics, like hand signals, which side of the road to be on, and should they be on sidewalks and pathways. There will also be a look at appropriate safety gear, bike parts, and doing some safety mechanics on their bikes.
“I hope it leads into getting more interest in the biking trails system we’re pushing towards. I like to see kids and families out there on trails and in bike parks, and Ashcroft has a perfect climate for it. Instead of families going to Kamloops they can do this here in town, which is why I’m promoting AORCA.”
He notes that bicycling can mean many different things, from bikes as a means of transportation to extreme stunts, which makes them so appealing. “In the end, though, people just like riding bikes, getting outside, being active.”
He notes that cycling on on developed trails causes very little damage or disruption, and there’s no noise.
“You can find conflicts and environmental impacts in places without trail building, or that are just starting, but in places with proper trails there is always some sort of map or signage at the trailhead so people know what to expect. One-way trails are clearly marked, so bikes aren’t coming down trails people are walking up, and they’ll tell you who to expect on the trail and how difficult it is.
Storkan feels that the area around Ashcroft, with its hills, is great for mountain biking.
“People say ‘mountain’ biking, but on hills building a trail is a lot less involved. This area has really good grades for bike trails, as well as for walking and hiking, and it’s close to town, which is a bonus, because you don’t have to pack up your bikes. On the Mesa you can walk out your back door, and there aren’t many places like that.”
In addition to trails, Storkan would like to see a skills park where people can learn the basics of mountain biking in a safe environment.
“It can be as basic as a couple of small hills with some berms you can zig-zag around to full-on jump lines. It can be big or small; something is better than nothing. You can start with a small, professionally-built skills park with a couple of obstacles and move on from there.”
Storkan has started talks with the Village of Ashcroft about a possible site, and is trying to assess interest in a skills park. “I want to see how many people actually want to come out and do this.
“I spent 85 per cent of my childhood in Lillooet at the skateboard park and on a small BMX track from the 1980s. Kids would go there and stay out of trouble and be there for hours.”
As for cycling trails, he says that’s where AORCA comes in, for fundraising and trail maintenance. He notes that people are already coming to the area from up north and from the Lower Mainland to cycle.
“I’m not sure a lot of people know we get these visitors coming here. If we had something sanctioned we’d get even more people. Hundreds of people from all over the province go to Valemount for the mountain biking. I know people are going from Kamloops to ride in Valemount. These places get lots of visitors, and they capitalize on it, and it’s working.”
More information about the bike rodeo is available on the A.O.R.C.A. Facebook page, where people can sign up for the event (pre-registration is encouraged but not required, and there is no charge). Anyone interested in learning more about a skills park or trails, or who would like to be part of AORCA, can contact Storkan via the Facebook page or text (250) 256-3438.