We’re pushing into our 12 month of summer and mountain biking, and all I can think about is where our journey all began.. at Silver Star Mountain.
It was the summer of 2015, Mitch accepted a trail building job at Silver Star instead of going back to work as an engineer. I decided to finish my geology contract up in the NWT early and purchased my very first full-suspension mountain bike at a whopping $3000 (which at the time I thought was super expensive for a brand new bike). From there we packed our bags and moved into an apartment on the mountain. Trail building began mid-May for Mitch and where the majority of his summer work was spent building with a crew and his boss Cameron Sorensen (Feature Pic: @RobbThompson).
After spending a week volunteering with the trail crew, I was able to get an understanding of why he always came back from work so exhausted, talking 24/7 about mountain biking, and how much of an inspiration Cam was to him. It’s been well over 2 years now since we left the mountain and went travelling, however our summer living on Silver Star mountain is probably the main reason why mountain biking has become such a big part of our outdoor lifestyle.
This past summer being back home in Canada, we took a trip out west and spent a few days biking at Silver Star and had the pleasure of catching-up with Cam once again.
Tell us a brief background about yourself.
I’m a trail builder, mountain biker and snowboarder. I started building trail ages ago like most riders and wanting to ride something new. I wasn’t bored of the trails in the North Okanagan, I just wanted more!
Silver Star Mountain hired me to build trail (as I was already doing it anyways) and wanted their mountain bike network to expand. I’ve been to countless workshops and trail care days, which is where I’m always picking up different building techniques. I absolutely love building trail and feel very lucky that I turned it into a career.
What sparked your interest in the sport of mountain biking?
I started riding for something to do in the off-season from snowboarding. I was a snowboarder first and mountain biker second. It’s flipped now and mountain biking has become my first passion these days. I still look forward to a pow day, but it seems there are fewer and fewer of those during the winter season compared to riding a mountain bike.. every day is a pow day!
How did you become involved in the trail building MTB scene, which eventually led you to the role of Bike Park Manager at Silver Star Mountain Resort?
I was building in the area before Silver Star had a full-time paid builder. I was a natural fit, I lived on the mountain and they needed someone that was passionate about building trail and that rode a bike. Up to that point, many of the trails were built for race events like the World Cup held in 1994. But that was a time when mountain biking was on a surge and the sport was evolving. Silver Star was smart to keep up with it and hired a full-time crew. I was on that first crew.
Financially some say the mountain lifestyle is not a sustainable one. What are your thoughts on this?
I think you can make anything financially sustainable. You have to be smart with your money and live to your means. If you like being outside and living this kind of a lifestyle, you adapt. If you want fancy things and fast cars chances are you won’t like digging in the dirt.. so really it’s a good fit for me.
What was the first trail you built on Silver Star and what is your favorite trail?
The first trail was Crack of Dawn. I built it at the crack of dawn before any of the staff came to work. This trail is still around and is now part of the XC network here at Silver Star. I have a few favorites, I can’t pick just one! I had my hand on pretty much every trail on the mountain at some point, so it really depends on my mood. Super Star is always my go to for my warm-up lap. From there it really could be anything.
For the last 3+ years you’ve invested a majority of your building during the summer with your crew on now newly opened 36km cross-country trail Beowulf (which we feel so lucky to have been apart of the building for one of those seasons). What we’re some of the logistics and planning that went into making such an epic and unique track unlike the rest built on the mountain?
The biggest thing about Beowulf is the sheer length. We had 3 – 12 people working on any given day for the 3+ years on that thing. Getting crews into work every day was a job in its self. Very few people will ever understand the amount of work that went into the build of Beowulf. Riding the trail now with other builders is amazing. Just the look on their faces makes you know that they get it. You have to have put in some trail time to understand how hard it can be and the feeling you get when you complete a build like this. This is what kept us going and also what burnt some out. That feeling we had when it was finished, and all the people that rode it for the first time is the reason why I build and built Beowulf.
When your not busy building trails on Silver Star, where do you typically go to adventure on your mountain bike? Is there a trip you recall that comes to mind?
We travel a lot with our bikes. In the past it was places like Moab, Peru and New Zealand! We’re always looking for the next bike adventure. Recently we purchased a camper van, so the next few trips will be closer to home. But truly when Silver Star Bike Park is open we don’t stray too far from home. The riding in this area is some of the best in the world!
Being involved in the sport of mountain biking, what’s something you’ve noticed that’s changed over the years?
Bikes! I wish they would just figure it out and keep with it. If they could do that maybe the cost would flatten out and more people would be inclined to get into the sport. For the cost of a new mountain bike you can buy a motocross with an engine. I just do not see how the industry can’t see this!
On a plus side I am seeing more and more women getting into the sport which is great! And the level of building these days is also great! In the past there was some shoty work out there, but now it seems like every town is getting quality built trail.
What do you tend to do during your off-season and in the winter?
Snowboard. It was my first love and I will always ride. I find myself more and more on my splitboard now and hunting for the pow lines!
As another MTB season at Silver Star wraps up over the coming weeks, what are you most looking forward to?
Rain! It has been a dry one this season and one for the record books. I’m not much a guy for the heat, part of the reason why I live at elevation. Those cooler days to come will be nice. And maybe some tacky dirt for some fall riding!
Hard working, dedicated, visionary and the example of a person who truly does what he loves. There isn’t a person I know that’s worked as hard as Cameron Sorensen to get to where he is and build the bike park that is Silver Star. We are truly humbled and fortunate to know and look-up to this amazing trail builder and mountain bike legend. And we can really only thank-you for being our inspiration to move to New Zealand and push the limits of our mountain biking to the next level. We wish only the best for you, Claudia and the trail crew at Silver Star, keeping this world-class bike park with its down-to-earth local vibe a continued success over the many season to follow! Silver Star will always be our local MTB resort and we hope to visit again next season.. or maybe live on the mountain another summer??
Posted by Marisa