Photography Megan Dunn
What is the Bikepack Canada Summit?
The goal of the summit is to bring our relatively new community of bikepackers together for a weekend of fun social events, engaging seminars, opportunities to discuss our shared interests, and ultimately flourish.
What inspired you to start organising it?
There are four bikepacking races that have been up and running in western Canada for the last two or three years, but if I had to state the number of people that actively refer to themselves as ‘bikepackers’, I’d put that number at around 200 – for all of Canada. Knowing this, and with organising in my blood, I felt that the ecosystem was not prepared to support another race. Instead, I thought it worthwhile to focus my energy on something that could tie the scene together.
Who is the summit open to?
The summit is not exclusively for Canadians, but historically our base travels in from the western provinces of Canada such as British Columbia and Alberta. This year we had a few riders come from eastern Canada too, as well as a few Americans. We have space for roughly forty attendees, and I don’t really want it to grow beyond that. Conversations and group rides are more personable with a smaller group. As for experience required, there is no bias. Everyone is welcome!
What sort of things were happening at this year’s event?
Well, firstly we had beautiful weather from start to finish, which set the summit up perfectly. Then we held an optional overnight ride along the newly-completed High Rockies Trail, and a social event on the Friday night which included a silent auction and helped to raise over $10,000. (Ryan is currently battling cancer, and the proceeds went towards his treatment). We had guest speakers Mike Dion, who produced the film Ride the Divide, 24hour mountain bike World Champion Cory Wallace, Tour Divide winner Josh Kato, Jay Petervary, and a women’s panel with the likes of Joanna Croston, who is the programming director for the Banff Mountain Film Festival. Lastly, we had the Sunday giveaway, which saw attendees walk away with at least $100 of swag each, including some fun items from Apidura.
What sort of riding was available for riders to get involved in?
The Bow Valley (where the event is held) has plenty of moderate singletrack and less demanding powerline trails. We begin each morning with an easy, two-hour group ride that is designed to keep everyone together. There are lots of stops to take pictures, soak up the changing season, and to see firsthand just how much variety there is with bike types and pack options. We encourage everyone to bring their fully-loaded bike, too, so it’s like ‘Show and Tell’ for adults.
What makes Canmore and the Bow Valley the ideal location for the summit?
Canmore is home for me, but it’s also the most accessible departure point for bikepacking in the Canadian Rockies. It’s less than an hour’s drive from Calgary, which has the closest international airport, and within minutes of Canmore you can find yourself on several routes, including the Great Divide. It’s a great showcase location for our discipline.
What do you think bikepackers gain out of coming together like this?
Bikepack touring and racing is largely a solo endeavour, and touted as such. The summit is the first opportunity for many of these riders to meet in plain clothes, share some beers, and truly develop a sense of community beyond the online forums.
So, can we expect more summits like this in the future?
Of course! Our third annual summit is planned for September 14-16, 2018. Interested individuals can visit our Facebook event page for realtime updates, including when we will release our early bird tickets on Bikepack.ca.