Williams Lake Road Trip: Mountain Biking Heaven in the Cariboo of B.C.

Mountain bike heaven - the terrain of Williams Lake

After an epic trip to Williams Lake in 2010, the entire crew was chomping at the bit to get up there again. Almost as soon as we arrived home from our last visit chatter began of when we would return, and with Williams Lake being an old cowboy town (hosting one of Canada’s largest rodeos), it was quickly decided that we would make our way back during the 2011 rodeo.

A little more than 12 months later and we were on the road again, loading 8 people in 3 pickups, filled with bikes, camping gear and not much else, we hit the road north to one of our favourite destinations in B.C. (well, one of mine at least). As with last year, we rocked into ‘The Puddle’ late evening, arriving at the Wellburn’s just in time for some fire action and a bit of catchup.

Sun setting as we head into Williams Lake

With the rodeo in town, Williams Lake residents and participants alike, head down to the main drag each morning to get amongst it as the event puts on a huge breakfast for stupid cheap! Being the bike bums that we all are, this was perfect! Bacon was the top order most mornings, along with some eggs and perhaps a ‘side’ of pancakes—some sweet grub to get the day started! For the first day of the trip, it was unanimously decided that we would hit Desous. After last years trip we were pumped to get back up there for some steep, flowing, loose and dusty trail schralpage! This place is sick—though can be a logistical nightmare when you have a posse of 11 people hitting it up. Lucky for us we have Kurt on our side, as Kurt knows how to set up a shuttle for maximum ride time!

The Riding

The first run was down ‘So Long’ which was a fave among the crew last year. Flowy and rocky up top only to get steep and sandy in the middle and end on some wicked flowing brown pow! Hoots and holla’s could be heard all the way down, with the occasional heckling when everyone stopped to regroup. Kram decided to give Olly some stick for adjusting his tire pressure on trail, only to flat himself—to everyone’s amusement—literally within the next 10 metres of trail. Karma can be a bitch!

Loading up the trucks for the second De Soo lap

The second run of the trip saw us hit ‘Prime and Endless’, a new trail to the crew and what a treat it was! Super flow on the upper section as you ripped through an old burn, in ankle high, lush green undergrowth, only to hit some of the most sustained, steep, dusty sections we have ridden. Brakes were burnt and people went over the bars, only to get up smiling and jump back on for more—though there were some near misses with a few rather large trees. The backside of Desous once again did not disappoint! We loaded up the retrieval vehicle with the drivers from the shuttles, leaving those that couldn’t fit with a cooler of ‘drinks’ to refresh themselves after a few good hours of ripping.

Loving the flow of upper Prime & Endless on Desous

Once the vehicles (and rest of the crew) were retrieved, we headed back into town for a feed and with plans of hitting the classic trails of Fox Mountain. Fox overlooks Williams Lake and is strewn with brilliantly designed trails, successfully utilizing the natural features of the hillside—predominantly what can only be described as old river/creek beds. Each trail on Fox, at some point will drop into theses ‘channels’ and send you on the ride of your life. Lips up the sides, drops into the channels transitioned walls, large corners that act more as wall rides on each side of the channel and step ups out of them—Fox is sick!

Kram had one thing on his mind prior to revisiting the Puddle, hitting the road gap on A-Flow, and after sizing it up it was go time! First run at it and he absolutely smashed it! Second go and it was even smoother and by the third the bike was being thrown about in the air. Everyone was pumped as we finished off the afternoon on everything that Fox had to offer.

Mark Haimes on the A-Flow Road Gap, Williams Lake

The Night Life

One of the best things at the end of a day riding in Williams Lake is the ‘cook-outs’ that evening (fires to us lower mainlanders), and the Wellburn’s know how to get a good fire going! A ton of wood was gathered into the back of the trucks as we headed to ‘camp’ and got a rager going! The group slowly dwindled down to the last few around the fire, stoking it for all it’s worth, before also succumbing to exhaustion and sleep deprivation. This is the night life for us while visiting, though there is some good boot scootin to be had at the local night club—something that may need to wait another year before we get to sample it…

John Wellburn stoking the fire

The following days were much of the same really. Unfortunately the weather did not hold as well as the last trip, but there was plenty of riding none-the-less. Fox Mountain was sessioned hard, with a few new trails seeing some time and generally keeping everyone stoked and wanting more! Kram continued to put any ‘Palm Bay’ or ‘girly drink’ banter to rest, always hitting the wildest features, on the smallest bike of the crew! Kurt continued to buzz on having a bunch of people to ride with, even if they wanted to do more laps in a day than is normally done in a couple of weeks, and at the end of the day John was sure to have the fire ready back at ‘camp’.

Riding brown pow in Williams Lake is key

The rodeo was taken in mostly from the breakfasts and while jetting about on laps of Fox. Even without going into the actual grounds for an event, it was a pretty cool vibe in town and the people watching was off the hook! The best part though, and the reason we love Williams Lake, is the brown pow and the thought of sessioning it again—hopefully sooner than later!

All Photos By Stephen Li