Without a mountain resort of its own and overshadowed by the reputation of Kamloops next door, the Shuswap isn’t known as a mecca for mountain bikers.
But a phone call this summer to tourism officials at Columbia-Shuswap Regional District could be the catalyst to change that.
The tourism office is a member of the Mountain Bike Association of B.C., where the contact was first made to connect with the Shuswap.
On the other end of the line was SecondBase Films, which specializes in adventure films.
The company was looking for under-the-radar locales in B.C. for an extreme-style mountain bike film. So the Shuswap, along with Squamish and Fernie were slated to be featured, along with stalwarts Whistler, Kamloops and Rossland.
Robyn Cyr, economic development officer at CSRD who oversees Shuswap tourism, said the office went into high gear to assist the venture.
“We’re a small tourism organization. It’s a good opportunity for us because we get exposure along with other communities.”
Cyr turned to Phil McIntyre-Paul, the force behind the Shuswap Trail Alliance. The trail alliance is a long-term project to develop, mark, map and make public the area’s extensive trails.
And McIntyre-Paul turned to Steve St. Denis, a carpenter by trade but a mountain biker at heart. St. Denis is a veteran hard-core rider with extensive knowledge of the trail networks.
“They wanted to focus on something unique,” Cyr said of SecondBase and mountain biking in the Shuswap. So the link was made with the region’s No. 1 attraction — the lake and houseboats.
That link to houseboats was a fortunate one for St. Denis because he is in the planning stages to developing mountain bike tours and link them to houseboating.
In summer, one of the riders in the film, Matt Hunter, came out for a one-day scouting expedition. St. Denis said his goal was to showcase trails that would entice bikers and show off lake views. And after a long-day of sweaty riding, at the end of the trail is a houseboat, friends, food and drink.
“They were looking for what’s really going to bring people to the Shuswap: the lake, houseboats and views,” St. Denis said. “We were jumping on a houseboat (after the ride) and enjoying the lake.
Shuswap tourism officials also brought Waterway Houseboats on to provide the boat used in filming.
Through four days of shooting in early September, mostly in evenings due to logistics and the weather, the effort came together for the Shuswap section of From the Inside Out.
St. Denis and other area residents will be able to see the results Friday, Nov 18 at Salmon Arm’s Salmar Classic Theatre, when From the Inside Out is shown.
The entrepreneur is hoping to use the film opportunity to help Ways2ride, the mountain bike tour company he is developing along with partner Jacob Brett.
The ultimate goal will be to offer packages to tourists who want to ride and houseboat in the Shuswap.
For those with the fitness, a sample start would see them ride the 44-kilometre Larch Hills traverse, beginning in Salmon Arm and dropping into Sicamous and a waiting houseboat.
In the long term, St. Denis plans to develop trails from water’s edge, available only to those who travel by boat that would link to existing trails.
“It will give the experience that much more.”
All those involved in film shoot are hoping it will draw more riders to the area. Cyr said the sterotype of the 22-year-old bike who sleeps in the back of a truck is still there, but research and experience are showing older riders have money to spend.
“They may have a couple of kids and a wife tagging along. They still want to ride. Ten or 12 years ago they would have slept in a truck. Now the’re staying in hotels and bringing the family. They want more than just mountain biking.”