Freeride. The word usually conjures up images of Redbull athletes at Crankworx or of backlit silhouetted cover shots. But the spirit of freeride is much more. It’s about taking an idea and seeing how far you can can push it in that direction. It’s finding out that frozen rivers are great places to ride fat bikes. It’s skinned knees in community bike parks. It’s pushing your skills as a rider or a trail builder to find out what can be done on a bike.

The winner of the 2019 IMBA Canada / Sombrio Freeride scholarship is now back home in Revelstoke, BC. Probably still dealing with arm pump after repeat laps with the Summer Gravity Camp crew, Sam would have gotten in more descending in one week than is possible with many months of pedalling. But the impact of Sam’s trip, and any other kid with the same opportunity as Sam, truly begins when they get back home. They’ll come back with a new perspective and new skills to share. Their local jumps will seem smaller, and their lines a little less steep. They’ll start pushing for more terrain, more opportunity.

Community spirit is essential to the development trails that captivate and inspire riders.

This drive is a key part of what will continue to make Canada the spiritual home of mountain biking. All of the places in Canada where really cool things have come from have reflected strongly their local riding community and the terrain the trails were built in. Our crazy woodwork came from the wet, cedar filled forests of the west coast. Steep lines and big jumps from the more desert like conditions of Kamloops or the Alberta badlands. These iconic trails didn’t just happen because the terrain was there. While necessary, terrain in and of itself isn’t sufficient to build a world renowned destination. They formed because of community – communities of riders who have pushed the limits, and each other, to find out what is possible on two wheels.

That community spirit is essential to the development trails that captivate and inspire riders. Finding and encouraging the next generation of riders is key. Giving them the tools and motivation to imagine what’s possible and see it through. It is our hope that the Freeride Scholarship can be one part of how we continue to ensure that mountain biking in Canada continues to thrive.

The next generation of riders is among us. Riding trails honed through trail, error, and injury by builders of times past, they will stand on the shoulders of giants. Here’s hoping they never stop.

Join us.