The greater Spokane area is centrally located for quick access to some of North America’s best mountain bike trails, including some of the best of the best within a 2.5-hour drive north in Rossland, B.C. For mountain bikers looking to build skills, expand horizons and experience new trails that will blow your mind, there is no better place to ride.

Contrary to the hardcore, Seven Summits image that may come to mind, Rossland has a diversity of beginner, intermediate and advanced trails that opens up opportunities for mixed groups of riders with differing ability levels to enjoy a mountain bike trip together knowing that they can split up or ride together.

The famed Seven Summits Trail, the 22-mile-long IMBA Epic that most people think of when they think of Rossland, is just the tip of the local riding iceberg. Which means that the vast majority of trails, well over 100 miles worth, are mostly lesser-known, highly rated trails that locals and visitors from around the world rave about. While you can always pop into the local bike shop (Revolution Cycles) for a map and trail recommendations, hoping your map reading skills and the local trail rating standards don’t lead you astray, Rossland has a super friendly and helpful bike community, which includes a number of services directed towards out-of-towners, from shuttling to bike coaching, tours and clinics that are designed to orient riders to the vast local trail network and help them build skills to match the terrain.

Mountain Bike Shuttles

Traditionally, most shuttle requests around Rossland have been for the Seven Summits Trail; however, if you take the time to talk with the guides at Mountain Shuttle/Kootenay Mountain Bike Coaching, they will turn you on to many other lesser-known, and, some would say, more fun trails that locals and a growing number of visitors shuttle on a regular basis. Try the Seven Summits Hangover tour, which includes four hours of shuttled downhill riding. Perfect for the day after a punishing Seven Summits ride. Also ask them about rooms at the bike-friendly Red Shutter Inn for $69 per night. They have other good deals and packages too. Details at Mountainshuttle.ca or 250-231-4305.

Photo courtesy of Kootenay Mountain Bike Coaching

Photo courtesy of Kootenay Mountain Bike Coaching

Ladies Mountain Bike Weekend (June 13-14)

Join the super friendly and knowledgeable people at Kootenay Mountain Bike Coaching and BettyGoHard for a two-day women’s mountain bike weekend that focuses on building bike skills and confidence. The camp includes shuttle-assisted, coached rides combined with skill practice to help dial in your biking.

BettyGoHard, a women’s progressive action sports community, is focused on taking the intimidation out of outdoor sports and inspiring women to push their limits. “We have a unique understanding of the fears and obstacles that women face when taking on new challenges as we are women and men that have faced our own fears and obstacles,” says co-owner and head coach Natasha Lockey. Both Natasha and her husband Ian Lockey bring unique experiences to their work. Ian is a standing paraplegic who competed in Sochi as part of the Canadian National Para-Snowboard Team. His experiences make him well-positioned to break things down from both a physical and mental perspective, enabling riders in their clinics to push through frustrations and succeed. Cost is $265 (Canadian). They also offer custom clinic packages for four or more women if you can’t make the June 13-14 weekend and want to set something up for you and your friends. More info: Kootenaymountainbiking.com.

Private MTB Lessons for Men, Women, Groups and Couples

Mountain biking is great fun, and the better you are, the more fun it is. Private lessons help build confidence, increase skills and reduce fears. “The best athletes in the world have coaches,” says Natasha Lockey. “We all have differing levels of skills and develop differently, and as we improve we will pick up some great skills and some not so great skills. Doing the same thing badly over and over is not going to make you better. You will just be better at doing it badly.”

For beginners, a lesson can help avoid many of the most common mistakes and bad habits that a lot of bikers have, she says. Lessons also help new riders get their body position and balance set up right and assist with a firm understanding of gears and brakes and how to use them efficiently. Private lessons can also be great for couples and helps avoid uncomfortable situations where one rider in the relationship is trying to teach the other and give advice.

For experienced riders, lessons can be a great way to get past the plateau, become stronger, be more efficient and have more fun, she says. “Fine tuning the small skills and having an expert set of eyes will enable you to get closer to riding like a pro, and the pros always look like they are having so much fun!”

Ladies Yoga and Biking Retreat (September 12-13)

This weekend for intermediate to advanced riders includes mountain biking, yoga, great food, good company and fantastic Rossland trails. “We will spend the weekend balancing between building your confidence and skills on the bike with the flow of your yoga practice,” says Natasha. From beginner to seasoned yogis, everyone will benefit from these sessions, she says. More info: Kootenaymountainbiking.com. //