26 Jun No Bikes 2018: Montana/Alberta
Often when I plan out a No Bikes trip it’s centered around visiting a single park, or a few parks that are clustered in the same area. For our trip in 2018, that skatepark that really captured my imagination was the “Thunderpark” in Montana. The park is one of the (now) many Evergreen Skateparks built in the state, and beyond the unique concepts in the park layout, the backstory behind the park was really intriguing. Throughout Montana, skateparks have been built in small towns and on reservations as part of the Montana Pool Service movement with Jeff Ament from the band Pearl Jam as the leading force. In my travels, I’ve always had the best time riding parks in small towns, and these parks look especially good.
The Thunderpark is on the Blackfeet Reservation in Montana. Having tiptoed around the issue of bikes in skateparks for many years, I think about riding a park on a reservation a little differently – more private than normal. Being extra cautious and not wanting to waste a day of driving, I got in contact with the tribe to see what the general vibe of the park was out there. “If the kids don’t like you, they’ll kick you out,” was maybe the best answer I’ve gotten to that question. Stephanie Vielle, who works with the Blackfeet Nation, was instrumental in creating an amazing experience for us in Browning. After giving me that awesome soundbite, she figured out that we were coming to the park the day of their annual opening ceremony. As part of that experience, we got to watch their custom for opening the park which was a badass drum ceremony. We then got to run a little demo and ride with the local kids until everyone was too tired to ride any more. There’s actually not a ton of footage of us from the park, partly because we had a blast sharing our bikes with the locals and letting them ride. It was one of my favorite days from ten years of doing trips.
The other big stop on our trip was Matt Thomas’ house in Strathmore. Matt lives on a beautiful piece of land out in the country, and has filled it up with jumps and ramps. These were the biggest sessions of the trip with an extra car load of Edmontonians and a full regiment of Calgary locals joining us.
This trip is a few years old, but we’re stoked to have the footage on the Embassy. We hope it inspires people to get after it this summer. There are few things more fun and growth inducing than getting in a car with your friends and going somewhere new.