By Jeremy Derksen
Mist rises from the forest as Tomas Vidal, his brother Eddie and Eddie’s son Caleb fly past on their bikes, winding down the serpentine single track in Vermilion Provincial Park, just kitty corner to Vermilion, AB. With the Vidals as my guides, I am getting a taste for the trails that ignited the boys’ lifelong passion for biking.
The park has been the boys’ playground since childhood. “I was born and raised here, I grew up on these trails, biking, skiing, and exploring here my whole life,” Tomas reminisces.
The Vidal family’s passion for biking spans three generations. Tomas and Eddie are hardcore mtb’ers, while their mom Jean enjoys more intermediate, rolling trails. At 10 years old, Caleb can launch off the same dirt jumps as his dad and uncle.
Since she and Tomas began dating, Robyn Webster has also gotten into the act. For her, Vermilion Provincial Park has been a great spot to integrate into the sport. “This has been a fun place to get into it and gain confidence,” she explains. “There are single tracks if you want them but there’s plenty of wide open trails to start with, and gravel or paved options too.”
Since the 1970s, the community has rallied around the park, which has become their playground, gathering place and crown jewel. This May 2021, Burnt Rock Adventure Co., a brand new outdoor gear retailer and rental shop opened to support the local demand, creating an anchor point in the downtown core for recreationalists. While there, you can grab a bike trail map to guide your ride.
For Tomas Vidal, it’s exciting to see the community and the park evolve into a riding destination. “It’s a blast to get back, it’s different when I’m away and it’s a big deal to drive somewhere,” he says. “Come to Vermilion, and you can bike uptown, you can bike into the provincial park. You park your car and you can bike everywhere from there.”