Words :: Ned Morgan // photos :: Mike and Andy Traslin.
Inspired in part by speed climber Hans Florine, who keeps track of his climbs of El Capitan (200)—and by the brothers’ own ever-growing tally of climbs, earned turns, summits and traverses—the Kuiper’s mission, according to elder bro Mike, has “no rules really. You can go as fast or slow as you want. Or do a long ride or short ride, before work or after work. And depending on where you live, you can pick an easy or difficult route.”
Mike was the Junior National Cross Country champion, and at 18, the youngest-ever competitor in the 1990 UCI Mountain Bike Championships. Since then, he has been British Columbia Overall MTB Champion (1991), placed top 10 in World Cup Downhill (Mont Ste. Anne), and seen other high placings in World Cup and Canada Cup cross-country events.
Younger brother Andy grew up riding the North Shore as the freeride movement was taking shape. He has completed 24 consecutive North Shore Triple Crowns and raced pro/elite in both downhill and cross-country. (He’s also a three-time Canadian Ski Mountaineering champ.)
Clearly, the brothers know a thing or two about biking.
Andy figures the brothers have logged about four million feet of climbing in B.C. in under four years, human-powered, on bikes and skis.
Their Kuiper’s rides serve as a reminder that we don’t have to go far to find trails to love. All the challenges we need may be waiting in our own backyards.
Mountain Life: Can you describe the route up Kuiper’s?
Mike Traslin: The route is a mix of road and gravel with short intense climbing. We have 10 or more options to get to the summit, some easier, some more difficult, depending on how you feel or what your motivation is like on the day.
Andy Traslin: It’s always fun to try to clean the route without dabbing, putting a foot down. The top crux part is tough to clean. You can just do a short hike-a-bike. I have roughly 10 routes I can do, to mix it up the route. If you had to do the same route over and over you might just get tapped out. So it’s really important to mix it up and throw in a different challenge.
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ML: How long have you been riding Kuiper’s?
MT: We have been climbing Kuiper’s Peak for four or five years, since we first moved to Kelowna.
AT: When I moved here I saw the sign on the street. It was close to where we so live, you get a viewpoint of the city and it’s local. It’s quite a place to chill and get stoked for the descent.
ML: You mentioned there’s been construction higher and higher up the mountain. How has this affected the trails and the ride experience?
MT: Like any new construction in your favorite outdoor zone, it’s always a shock to your system at first. The ride experience changes as you lose some trails, but you learn to adapt, figure out what trails are left and try to enjoy what is still available. Seek and Enjoy. It does make you reflect on how far development will go. And how high up the mountains it will go. Sometimes it feels like there is no end in sight. Not far from Kuiper’s Peak there is a new Save on Foods being built.
AT: Construction is slowly but surely climbing up the mountain. Originally there was a sign for the park, then it was gone. They simply tear the land down and just start building. I had access to a cool boulder that I would ride to, stop during the ride and get a bouldering session in. Then keep riding. That got totally blasted and half of the mountain bike trail access to it. That was definitely a bummer.
ML: Does anyone maintain the trails? Do you see other riders up there?
MT: Just a few berms built up here and there, but no one maintains the trails. Once in a while I see a few hikers and mountain bikers. Very quiet zone, and close to the Guillard area, which is known for technical freeride trails, and a little farther down the new highway is the Crawford trail system—more cross-country–friendly.
AT: The area doesn’t get ridden very much. The local kids built some of the original trails and jumps. You see a few hikers, riders and dog walkers. Quiet so far. With the new construction, I can guarantee that will change.
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