Sweet riders hit up Crowsnest biking trails 0
Having competed as a world-class mountain biker for close to two decades, Karey Lee-who traveled from Japan to the Crowsnest Pass for her recent Sweet Riders bike camp-understands a trail riding paradise when she sees one.
As the holder of three Japanese downhill titles, Lee has spent the last 20 years competing in World Cups and Canadian Nationals among other grueling competitions.
One of her most proud moments came at the age of 40 when she pedaled her way to her third downhill title.
"I've had a good career and pretty much every race I've done, I'm always consistent in making podiums for downhill," Lee said during a break in the Sweet Riders camp. "I've been pretty happy with that."
Coming from Hakuba, Japan-known to be a skiing and mountain biking mecca-Lee said the trails of the Crowsnest Pass are phenomenal and have to be used.
"(People here) have a paradise to ride; it doesn't matter what level you are," she said. "You can still get out and there are trails for any level. Join UROC and meet people who are riding and learn from them."
Just like many things, Lee noted that with each day you ride, mountain biking enthusiasts get better and better, gaining more confidence and accomplishing more goals.
"When you first start out, you go 'oh my god, that hill used to kill me," she said. "Now you might look back on it and it is so easy now. That is kind of what happens with biking."
Lee was in the Crowsnest Pass on August 25 and 26 for the Sweet Riders bike camp and had a great showing from community members and people who traveled in for the exciting camp.
The Sweet Riders camp is in its sixth year and was originally styled after the Dirt Series competitions.
"Biking in Canada is a whole different world than biking in Japan," she said. "We have awesome biking in Japan, but we don't have the same terrain."
Whereas many people just start riding, Lee started her Sweet Riders bike camp off with teaching the very basics-something she referred to as neutral position.
Neutral position, according to Lee, is where the body is centered on the bike with equal pressure applied in both the handlebars and the pedals. She said neutral position is essential to hold whenever riding a mountain bike.
At the beginning of the camps second day, Lee and the rest of the instructors went over the necessary skill known as a manual.
"(It's) something where you are coming off a curb and you want to raise your front tire so you land with both the front and the rear at the same time," she said. "This is a skill that a lot of people can't do but when they get it, it changes their world."
Lee said it has become important to teach people of all different ages because as she explained it, individuals are never too old to learn.
"I've been in this game for 20 years and I'm still learning," she said. "I don't think you can ever stop learning and I feel I'm getting better."
After learning manuals, the group tackled one of the most difficult aspects of the camp-ascending the steep hills of Pass Powderkeg. It was quite an accomplishment to pedal to the top of the first incline.
"Now that I'm in the Crowsnest, I've been riding with all the locals and doing group rides," Lee said. "The terrain has impressed me and I'm falling in love with it."
Working and teaching alongside Lee was a talented group of instructors, some of whom traveled a long way to help teach the Sweet Riders course.
Not only does Edmonton resident Janet Liu run all the Alberta Dirt Series competitions, she is also an airplane mechanic.
Lorraine Blancher has been riding with Karey Lee for twelve years, and as Lee explained, Blancher was her gateway to racing in Canada.
In addition, Lee said local resident and volunteer Wendy Glossop was on hand to help as a sweep-taking up the rear of a trail ride-and with many of the bike camp lessons.
Karey Lee and the rest of the Sweet Riders instructors wanted to thank John Redekopp, United Riders of Crowsnest (UROC) vice president, and his wife for their support. In addition, thanks go out to the Stonesthrow Café, Clif Bar Canada as well as Specialize Canada.