For the past 20 years, this mountain town nestled in the lush and rugged Selkirk Mountains has been holding a festival in honor of an avid cyclist who helped shape the mountain bike community it thrives on. Cameron Alexander was a pioneer of epic, gnarly mountain biking, and his love of the sport helped inspire what are some of the best known trails in Western Canada, right in Nelson, B.C., just a few hours north of Spokane. To commemorate the loss of Cam in a tragic mountain biking accident, his friends created a festival to celebrate his love of biking, and this festival continues on 20 years later.
The festival is a full weekend of family-friendly events including recreational rides to get to know the local trails, cross-country and downhill races, a poker ride, downhill shuttles, kids’ cross-country races and fun contests and socials. Events and competitions take place in downtown Nelson and at several Nelson area trail systems. All of the events this year feature a “casino” theme that wraps up with prizes at the Roots, Rocks, and Rhythm party on historic downtown Baker Street.
The Family That Rides Together…
The Fat Tire Festival has evolved into a family-friendly weekend of events, including bike decorating and a bike parade on Friday night, fun events like the Kootenay Krawl (last one wins!) and the daring Last Wheelie Standing contest. On Saturday, mountain biking families can participate in Gerick’s Poker Ride and Sacred Ride’s BlackJack Downhill Shuttle and follow those up with the family-friendly Roots, Rocks and Rhythm Party that night. On Sunday, grab the little shredders and head out to Morning Mountain where they can rip it up with the kids’ cross-country races, or for the more adventurous, race with Mom or Dad in the Over/Under Category – one person is over 40, the other under 18.
A Chance to See for Yourself…Nelson Bike Trails Rock!
Nelson has some of the best mountain biking in the world. From steep, gnarly downhills, to flowing and fast cross-country trails and epic rides with 360 degree views. And all of them are accessible within a short 10 minute drive from Nelson – some even start from right in town! Get a peek of what Nelson has to offer with the festival’s Casino Royale events on Saturday, August 22. This day features recreational rides: the longer cross-country group ride at the Smallwood Trail system; downhill shuttles to some of the best downhill trails around; and the fun Poker Ride, featuring the Mountain Station trails located right in Nelson.
Sunday: The Race Is On!
Sign up for a race at Morning Mountain, the newly developed mountain bike destination in the West Kootenays. Formerly a ski hill that’s a 10 minute drive outside of Nelson, Sunday features the adult cross-country races (a team relay-style event that is as fun to watch as it is to ride); the ever-popular kids’ cross-country races; and the highlight event, the downhill race. These events are unique as they tailor to both the recreational rider and the speed-loving racer! All day long, there will be music, food, face painting and good times.
Start Planning Your Ultimate Nelson Bike Adventure Now!
Make your way to Nelson, B.C., August 20-23 for the 20th Annual Fat Tire Festival and a weekend filled with something for everyone (and great prizes to be won). Event costs vary from $5 to $15 and there are discounts for signing up for the whole day. Find all the festival info you could want here. and learn more about other things to do around Nelson and accommodation options here.