A Full Decade of Mountain Biking in Medicine Hat

Local Stories

20-year mountain biker, Katie Courty, has spent the last 10 years in Medicine Hat.

Local mountain biker of almost 20 years, Katie Courty has raced the Battle Creek Showdown trails since year one in 2015. Filled with locals in the early years, the mountain bike festival quickly grew with racers from across Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan.

Selling out every season, Courty says the welcoming and outgoing spirit has remained with a slightly more competitive edge, and the memorable moments keep piling on.

“It’s truly become a festival. Us and all our friends camp the week before and into the weekend. We often have the backend of the Elkwater Campground — it’s all bikers and everybody sits and hangs out at the campsite. It’s my most favourite weekend of the summer, hands down,” says Courty.

Families and friends join to cheer everyone on, and every racer seen along the way voices words of encouragement, bringing a motivating and inspiring drive. There’s live music and food trucks in the evening. And for those who camp, the Visitor Centre, Elkwater Lake, and playgrounds are all nearby to continue on the action.

The mother of two rode with herself and friends the first few years of Battle Creek Showdown, until her husband and oldest daughter joined a team.

“It was amazing, being able to do that with my daughter. It was probably my most favourite year.”

While the family was sitting around the campfire with friends and fellow racers, her youngest daughter, not the most interested in mountain biking, overheard lively conversations about the race day. She asked Courty if there was room for her to race, in which Courty reached out to the organizers and was able to have her and a friend’s daughter race as a team.

“She said she wanted to do it after hearing everyone talk about it. The day of, she got into the whole vibe and totally crushed it. She was the happiest kid on the course.”

She’s watched both her children push themselves and do things they didn’t think they could, with the whole mountain bike community’s support behind them. She says that’s the community during the festival. Everyone gets together and builds each other up.

The 670 Collective Mountain Bike Club had recently started when Courty and her family moved from Ontario to Medicine Hat in 2013. Courty was invited to join a ladies ride by Michelle LeBlanc, current Battle Creek Showdown event organizer. They started in Redcliff, and Courty remembers having to repeatedly stop to take pictures, “I hadn’t seen anything like it before.”

One of Courty’s favourite trails is in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, trail name being ‘Sorry’. She climbs it during early sunset to catch the sun setting over the lake, to see the sun shimmering off it. 

“Even though we’re in the prairies, it’s like big mountain riding. We don’t have the elevation, but it’s some pretty awesome riding out here. We’ve had some fantastic trail builders out here that have upped the game. I’ve met people from all over who can’t believe how awesome our trails are.”

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