Thursday, September 29, 2011

On going downhill.

Pro rider and Big Mountain guide Stephen Matthews shares some experience of going downhill on NSMB.COM. 

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Behind Big Mountain Adventures.

The way we rolled back in '77.
Growing up in my family, riding bikes was a part of life. My earliest memories of pedalling were on the back of a tandem with custom cranks for my short legs; my dad at the helm and my younger brother in a baby seat hanging off the back. My parents ran their first cycling trip in 1972 in England and Wales and photos from those days show plastic hockey helmets and afros, cut-off jeans and white cotton socks pulled up high. Next year, their company, Cycleventures Bicycle Tours will celebrate 40 years of running European bike trips, they were pioneers. Itching to explore, I moved west to Whistler as soon as i could and I hit the mountains on fire. The community of passionate riders inspired me like an artist's first trip to Paris. I could not believe the energy; scores of people were building epic signature trails, creating innovative films, capturing groundbreaking photos and pushing the limits of all things mountain biking. In the summer of 1998 my roomate Paddy Kaye and I hatched up the idea of a new mountain bike event. We called it Joyride and the world's first bikercross, and later slopestyle, was held. We invited the best to Whistler for this first time - Lopes, Chausson, Peat, Gracia who came and never looked back. A few years later our event morphed into Kokannee Crankworx which took off. They even brought the name back this year as Red Bull Joyride with Paddy as the course designer who is now a bike park builder with Joyride Bike Parks which is super cool.

Enamored by the Alps.
Like a teenagers first love, i turned my sights to the Swiss Alps in 2003. I was instantly blown away by the potential; the country was a giant lift-accessed bike park with endless singletrack peppered with cosy mountain huts linked by trains and roads. I could not believe my eyes, almost no one was riding, or if they were, they were rocking fluro tights on fully rigid bikes climbing and descending dirt roads. The trend in Whistler at the time was jeans, heavy freeride bikes and big airs from the local school roof to flat. I labored my big bike in the Alps that summer and returned home with lofty dreams - Big Mountain Adventures was born. My vision was to re-invent guided mountain biking and meld the latest technology with worldclass riding in a seemlessly orchastrated dream-trip; ripping singletrack, a sprinkle of culture, an intimate knowledge of each region and riding style, great cuisine and wine and the very best guides possible. Riders like Joe Schwartz and Wade Simmons joined in to make the experience unreal. Nearly a decade later and Big Mountain offers epic cross-country, all-mountain and DH trips in 14 countries. The adventure continues...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Beautiful New Zealand.

Welcome to Nepal.

At Big Mountain, we know that successful mountain bike trip is the result of a team effort, a well-executed symphony of details that results in a trip of a lifetime. There's absolutely no doubt that our guides are paramount in this success. They're the ones changing flats for you, showing you the best trails that you've ever experienced, uncovering local secrets and chatting with you at dinner time - and a whole lot more. Next month we have a group off to Nepal on our Himalaya Heights all-mountain trip. Along with Whistler-based Big Mountain guide Seb Kemp, the group will be hosted by a team local professionals. We'd proud to introduce you Thagendra Gurung who will be at the helm of Himalaya Heights:
Thagendra Gurung was born in one of the remote villages of Matsyapokhari in eastern Nepal. He grew up there in an ordinary family, going to the village primary school and working hard as a farmer. When he finished school he came to Kathmandu to work. He was interested in working in tourism, beginning first as a porter supporting trekking groups, including work in on a bike trek, a trip during which he fell in love with mountain bikes. Today he has been mountain biking and guiding in Nepal and abroad for almost two decades. He is one of the pioneers of mountain biking in Nepal and he has consistently opened up new trails and areas for biking and biking tours over the years. He owns and operates his own biking company and does some freelance guiding for groups who are up for something beyond the ordinary.
Ready for action!
Training completed: -
  1. Guide Training Course
  2. Basic Computer Course
  3. English Language Course

Experience with the following biking adventures: -
  1. Lhasa - Kathmandu  (Tibet and Nepal)
  2. Xingjiang (China)
  3. Karakoram highway (Pakistan)
  4. Annapurna (Nepal)
  5. Tilicho, Highest Lake (Nepal)
  6. Langtang - Gosaikunda (Nepal)
  7. Arun Valley (Nepal)
  8. Taplejung-Ilam (Eastern Nepal)
  9. Bike tours in the Swiss Alps, North Italy, South France, Ardeche and Prynees

Countries visited abroad: -
  1. Europe : - France, Germany, Italy, Austria, Luxembourg, Belgium, Nether land and Switzerland
  2. Asia: -  China, Thailand, India, and Pakistan

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

When it counts.

A few weeks ago a private group of clients from California arrived in Vancouver BC for a custom guided 9-day mountain bike adventure. I'd ridden with this crew in Switzerland, the BC Kootenay region and the Yukon Territory and each of these trips were a huge success. All time. The pressure was on. As it is for all of our trips, I planned to show them the best of the best in our region. We'd ride the Whistler valley, the Whistler Bike Park, Squamish, Pemberton, the Chilcotins and North Vancouver all in one swoop. Like our scheduled Sea to Sky trip, but on steroids. These guys are strong too, so the line-up of planned rides was spectacular. Our biggest ride was one for the books...
8:45 AM. Watching the plane leave us and our bikes on the shore of a remote lake. And the realization that civilization is a long way away...across glacial streams, up and over two big passes and through some very remote backcountry.

10:30 AM. Cresting the first pass on a sun cupped snow field. It's always fun to feel snow beneath your cleats on a big ride. It was a big snow year in BC so there's more around than usual.

10:45 AM. When you have to carry everything on your back for a long and arduous day every once of weight counts. Have you tried Clif Bar's Shot Blocks? These little tasty treats are packed with tons of energy, just what we needed to keep going.

11:00 AM. "With great effort comes great reward." Who said that anyway? Brilliant. True eh? The very finest things in life, the ones that stick with you and really have an impact - take effort. This descent stuck.

11:30 AM. One of the many fine things about mountain biking is the places that you stop to refuel. I'd been to this little spot a few times before. It's special. A grassy meadow with a fork in the trail. Go straight and it's about five more hours, go right and it's another seven. We went right.

1:45 PM. At this point you're wondering who the fuck decided to take this route and why you didn't go on that fucking resort holiday instead. But then you get to the top, high-five your buddies and do a 360 turn and realize that you're very fucking alive.

6:45 PM. This is Peter. He's smiling because he's an animal. No really, he's super fit and loves pain. Ten hours later. We did it. Actually he's smiling because we put a cooler full of beer on ice in the van. Smart thinking.

New Italy DH trip. Check this out.

Coming next spring....

Monday, September 19, 2011

Would you ride the Himalayas with Seb Kemp?

As you may or may not know, globetrotting mountain biker cum-journalist-guide-coach extra-ordinaire Seb Kemp joined Stephen Matthews this past August as co-guide of our infamous Switzerland Alpenrock DH trips. He also co-drove the boat on an epic private Sea to Sky trip in our backyard, riding Whistler, Pemberton, Squamish, the Chilcotins and the Sunshine Coast. From all accounts across the board, Seb was a huge asset with his amazing coaching, guiding and riding skills and super sense of humour. And he's patient. Intelligent. He's top notch. We're so happy that Seb's joined our team here at Big Mountain Adventures that we've asked him to head over to the Himalayas next month to co-guide our Himalaya Heights Nepal mountain bike trip. I think that this group is in for a rocking good time on and off the bike as Kemp will surely keep things fresh and definitely memorable. That's what good life's all about though eh? Riding bikes and having fun. Plus, professional photographer Dan Barham's on this trip. All time eh?
Get inspired, read some of Seb's fine words and far-out thoughts from his blog "2FLAT: Insipid tales of a terrible child." Seb's account of Day 1 of the Las Vegas Interbike show, courtesy of

Seb's beautiful wife Brandii.

Some funny interviews from the Interbike show courtesy of Mr. Kemp:

#FOUR - Interbike QUESTION OF THE DAY from on Vimeo.

Specialized in Zermatt.

A little heavy on the Stumpjumper but that's OK, we'll let it slide this time. Berrecloth, Sam Hill, Burry Stander and Christophe Sauser riding Zermatt a few weeks ago. Some great shots but it looks like they should have had a guide to show them the way!
Want to come DH'ing with us next summer? Stay tuned for our 2012 Alpenrock DH dates. Or, maybe some all-mountain riding is more up your alley? Cloudraker is what you need.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Planes, trains and automobiles.

A great article by Big Mountain Adventures guide Stephen Matthews from the front lines in Switzerland. Check it out here on NSMB.COM.