A mountain bike extravaganza.
Over the years, there has been massive mountain bike trail development in three areas in and around Medicine Hat: Echo Dale Regional Park, Redcliff, and Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. Each scenic spot offers an extraordinary experience with coulee, forest, or red rock backdrops, and they’re all within 50 minutes of each other.
Medicine Hat’s 670 Collective Mountain Bike Club hosted the seventh Battle Creek Showdown in Elkwater, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. The event saw over 200 riders from Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and British Columbia, including 70 children.
“A lot of people say it’s their favourite race of the year. It’s a fun event for everybody — for people doing their first race or for really experienced racers and riders who want to push themselves and their limits,” says event organizer Michelle LeBlanc.
People of all ages, up to 65, race the thrilling and challenging trails in Elkwater at this one-day event. Afterwards riders indulge in a dinner that’s catered by a local business. In the past, Mike’s Meats and Camp Cookhouse have fed the hungry crowd. Mountain bike enthusiast Ginette Brinkman sets up a table that features her mountain bike-inspired pottery exclusive to Battle Creek Showdown.
The mountain bike trails in Elkwater live among aspen and lodgepole pine forest. With a handful of camping areas nearby, friends and families often make the trip a full week or weekend adventure.
“I love the few days prior when we see all the cars and trucks pulling in with bikes on the back. To think people are coming from all over the place to come to our little gem in the prairies to ride their bikes is really cool,” says LeBlanc.
With hopes to host more and more people as 670 Collective presents Battle Creek Showdown, they feel fortunate to have a space like Elkwater that can house a large number of people, with trails, accommodations, and things to do.
“Elkwater is this hidden gem and oasis in the middle of the prairies that has all the facilities we need to organize something like this. We can continue to add or change routes to make each year something new, because there’s always new trail development,” says LeBlanc. “It’s the perfect place — many come a week prior and make it a part of their summer holidays.”
The first time LeBlanc rode in Redcliff, she couldn’t believe what she saw. She says the area is so unique and diverse and the trails live among the coulees and cactus and along the South Saskatchewan River valley.
Echo Dale Regional Park is home to the most recent development, where there are trails for beginners and really advanced riders.
“All the trails in each area blend so well with nature. It’s not intrusive at all — it feels very connected to the environment.”