“I told him that he couldn’t go on holiday without me again,” said one of the women on our Sacred Rides Rocky Mountain Bring Your Partner Adventure. That conversation took one Australian couple down a path that led to sharing breakfast with us at a small restaurant in Canmore, Alberta–and a week of epic adventures, both on and off the mountain bike, throughout the Canadian Rockies!
Some stereotypes exist for a reason. In mountain biking, the stereotype of the gung-ho husband and the non-riding wife plays out time and time again. This stereotype has led to articles like “5 Reasons Why Your Significant Other Doesn’t Want to Mountain Bike With You” ranking in the top tier of most-read Singletracks articles.
Note: If I refer to “women” or “wives” as the non-riding partner in this article, that’s only because the stereotype played out on our specific trip with four male shredders and four female partners. It should go without saying that the wife could be the “rider” or the couples on the trip could be homosexual, but consider it said.
Thousands of couples around the world coexist happily even if both partners don’t ride mountain bikes. After all, it’s healthy for each individual to have hobbies and pastimes that are entirely their own.
But when it comes time to take vacation, tempers can flair. In the US, two weeks of vacation is the standard… and many people count themselves fortunate if they receive any paid time off whatsoever. This limited amount of time (compared to many countries in Europe with 5 weeks as a minimum) makes each vacation day a precious commodity. So when the mountain biker in the relationship wants to head to an epic destination to shred trails but the non-riding partner doesn’t–and gets sick of being left at home all the time–the couple is at an impasse.
Sacred Rides realized that this is a major problem, so they decided to craft a solution. And the Bring Your Partner (BYP) Adventure was born.
The Sacred Rides website bills these trips as perfect for “experienced mountain bikers with partners who don’t mountain bike.” Sacred Rides is renowned for their expertise in creating epic mountain biking adventures, so the quality of the singletrack for the “riders” is guaranteed. But that doesn’t mean that they’re neglecting the activities for the “partners.” No, just as much effort has gone into crafting an excellent adventure for the non-mountain biking partner with hiking, yoga, spa activities, and more.
My wife, Summer, and I were the perfect candidates to take this trip. While she loves adventuring in the mountains and does mountain bike on occasion, hiking, running, and yoga are much more up her alley. We connected with Sacred Rides to see exactly how the BYP trip meshed the wants and needs of a mismatched couple.
Mountain Biking Expertise
In case you haven’t heard of Sacred Rides before, they are arguably the largest and most experienced mountain bike guiding company in the world. Founded about 20 years ago in Fernie, BC, they now offer mountain bike adventures in Alberta, The Azores, British Columbia, California, Costa Rica, Croatia, Greenland, Guatemala, Italy, Nepal, New Zealand, Ontario, Patagonia, Peru, Slovenia, Switzerland, Utah… and seemingly more destinations every day. Be sure to check their website for the latest list.
In BC alone “Sacred Rides has tenure for commercially guided mountain bike tours on 300km of trails,” according to Ryan Kikauka, Ride Director and Lead Guide for Sacred Rides BC. In Alberta? Another 100km of permitted trails. The amount of territory they cover in the Canadian Rockies alone is so vast it’s difficult to comprehend.
The Meshing of Activities
“We are most experienced with crafting mountain biking adventures,” said Ryan. But the idea of incorporating a variety of activities is still relatively new territory for Sacred Rides, with BYP Adventures just a few years old. The challenge with the BYP Adventure is meshing the various activities together into one, seamless adventure.
Not only do the riders and partners have their individual activities, but certain activities are planned together. Over the course of the trip, Summer and I went on hikes, went cliff jumping into a lake, canoed the Kootenay River, and enjoyed all of our meals together. Our respective guides, Ryan Kikauka and Johanna Weintrager, had the challenge of trying to time their activities to begin and end at roughly the same time, bringing the couples back together for necessary couple time. After all, if the husbands and wives were separate the entire time, that would largely defeat the purpose of the trip… it would feel like any number of my work trips that Summer has joined me on.
“The trip was well-balanced in offering us both a slice of what we enjoy most in the outdoors, while providing us the opportunity to share some adventures together,” said Summer. While at times the schedule of our trip felt jam-packed, Ryan and Johanna did an excellent job of keeping the trains running on time, and in the end it all culminated in an incredible experience in the Canadian Rockies!
The Partners’ Activities
While you’ll hear more about the mountain biking adventures in subsequent articles (be sure to tune back in tomorrow!), on the partner side of the trip, they did also get the chance ride for two days of the 7-day trip. Most of the riding was skills-oriented, with a big skill-building introduction on day one. Advice and encouragement was offered throughout the other rides. When not guiding with Sacred Rides, Johanna’s other main job is skills coaching, for which she travels all across the continent.
“Johanna was an excellent guide and teacher who took a personal interest in each person on the trip,” said Summer. “Considering myself a fair weather mountain biker, I felt like Johanna’s coaching helped me cross the threshold from novice to intermediate biking territory. She was observant, encouraging, and attentive to the needs of the group, placing high importance on personal progress and having fun.”
While the environment was perfect for Summer to grow and develop as a mountain biker, I would take slight issue with advertising this trip for non-riding partners. With two full days of riding, and a third planned day of riding that was instead shifted to hiking and yoga, I would say that this trip would be ideal for a partner who at least enjoys mountain biking and could envision doing it more. The way the BYP Adventure is structured right now, the trip works great for building up a little-riding partner into a partner who rides more frequently. If the partner has no interest in riding a bike, this trip could prove to be a formidable challenge.
Perhaps the main fixture for the partners during the trip was yoga, which was also informative and instructive. In addition to being a mountain bike instructor, Johanna is a certified yogi–practicing and teaching every type of yoga in existence.
While they kept inviting us guys to join in for the yoga, I didn’t take them up on the offer, opting for more beer drinking time instead. But every time the women finished with their yoga session, they all exclaimed how relaxing and rejuvenating it was for their bodies.
“The yoga sessions were beneficial and timely throughout the trip,” said Summer. “The intense stretching helped loosen tight muscles from the day’s strenuous activities. The poses were challenging, but suitable for all ability levels. I learned a lot about yoga from Johanna during the trip and have been inspired to pursue the practice on my own at home.”
The final staple activity was, as you can probably imagine: hiking. Hiking is the go-to for a less technical yet trail-based activity. While at times the women hiked the same trails we biked, just taking shorter routes to reach the most visually-stunning locations, at other times they explored completely different terrain, with some of their photos leaving me with a little FOMO the next time they headed out the door with their packs on!
While my main goal was to shred rad trails and enjoy time with Summer, what I didn’t spend much time contemplating beforehand were the other people who would be joining us on this trip. “People generally don’t sign up for these trips unless they enjoy spending time with other people,” commented Ryan.
But spending time with the other folks–hailing from North Carolina, Massachusetts, and Australia–proved to be one of the absolute highlights of the trip. “To my surprise, I loved experiencing the trip in a group setting with other couples,” said Summer. “Being an introvert by nature, I was nervous about vacationing with ‘strangers,’ but I was pleasantly surprised to find that each activity was so much more memorable and each meal more meaningful when shared together.”
I too, despite being an introvert, thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the other men and women on our trip, both clients and guides alike. The dynamic of riding with people from around the world, on an assortment of different bikes and with a wide range of strengths and weaknesses, was both entertaining and rewarding. It also challenged me to improve areas that I’m weak in.
Simply put, this trip wouldn’t have been the same without the incredible people that we shared it with!
All the ingredients are here: top-notch guiding, great activities, incredible people, and the expectation of an epic adventure! The only question is: how were the trails?
Check out the other two installments in this series to find out:
- An Introduction to the Epic MTB Destination of Fernie, BC
- Living on the Edge and Off the Grid at Nipika Mountain Resort
Thanks to Sacred Rides for making the Rocky Mountain Bring Your Partner Adventure possible.