A place that is hidden away, secluded, formerly heard about in passing or whispers but beautiful enough to attract those who have travelled the world over has to have something special to it, right? The Sunshine Coast of B.C. Canada is one of those places. Relatively unheard of aside from those in the know until the last 10 years or so, this small community has one of, if not the highest ratio of professional mountain bikers per capita in the country. The videos being produced there, and the quality of trail builds filled people with wonder and caused a swell of interest and wonder in riders from all over, enough interest in fact, that rumors of a bike park started circulating. This was to be Gracey’s training ground.
Things started gaining momentum in the woods just outside of Sechelt in 2013, The construction of the park had begun, an evolution of what had already been happening for years was being fortified on private property, protected and curated for the enjoyment of everyone. Gracey was young, really young in fact. Even at 8 years old Gracey knew she liked bikes; her family liked bikes. Her father Darren was all in on the creation of the park, figuring out what needed to be done to get it going. The community was more than supportive, and with a mix of families with young kids looking for a place to ride, and the athletes who were already there looking for more progressive, easier access to what the loved things were full steam ahead.
It didn’t take many years of riding the park before folks recognized something special about Gracey. With the park at her fingertips and a family who wanted to see her on two wheels more than two feet, she was lapping as hard as any of the adults. Inevitably, this got to a point where she was lapping with the adults, and her abilities grew. Spending time following, watching, mimicking people like Semenuk, R-Dog, Curt and Dyl the trailbuilders, and countless others had a two-way effect. She saw what they did, but they saw what she could do, and what she was capable of. As a community, they always encouraged her to hop on the shuttle for one more lap, or follow them down the trail, try out a race, whatever she needed to keep riding.
Seemingly out of nowhere for some and completely as expected for others, Gracey had a breakout year racing the B.C. Cup series, taking the overall and gaining eyes of those keen to offer her more support. Broadening into Crankworx racing, Canadian Nationals (which she won) and even some border hopping down to Washington for the Northwest Cup series, she set her sights on the big stage: World Cup.
Signing with Norco meant full support, and with that came comfort and ease to just do her thing. During this year’s race season she had established a strong lead in the overall at Mont-Sainte-Anne, which meant she could breathe easy, chill out a bit and head to Crankworx without any pressure. Growing up riding a bike park isn’t the same as growing up riding trails. You get to do many more runs, and you typically get to ride way more jumps. While Gracey’s attack on the clock is undeniable, so is her style. Seemingly effortless, she moves the bike as if it is a feather, reminiscent of those who she followed on countless laps in the park.
Gracey is at the front of a new generation of young female riders who blur the boundary between race and freeride, keen to enter the Whistler Whip-off. It may not be the best jump for the task, but this is where it all started. The crowd is massive, and the bar is set high. To be able to hang out here and the World Cup course is a special feat, especially for someone so young. Success has an odd way about it. Sometimes it’s hard to recognize until after its passed you by, and sometimes you can see it from miles away, but for someone who’s stuck right in the middle climbing up to the top it just feels like a good time. This isn’t the beginning, or the end for Gracey, but she is well on her track to the top, wherever that may be.
Photos by Boris Beyer, Video by Mind Spark Cinema