Riding high with the queen of the mountains.
Growing up in granby, Quebec, Vaea Verbeeck met her fair share of mountain bikers. (The town next door, Bromont, hosted plenty of international competitions.) At 17, she joined in—and was soon hooked on hurtling down mountains on two wheels. In 2013, Verbeeck finished up her studies in sports marketing and moved west. Now she spends her days exploring North Shore trails or trekking out to Sun Peaks and Whistler to compete or watch other pros. At 23, she’s won a national championship and placed sixth at last year’s Mountain Bike Downhill World Championships in Norway. Yet recovering from a broken femur, lacerated liver, and broken wrist was tough: “My grandmother asked me to stop, as I had proven I was capable already,” she says. “But through this sport I’ve found my career, my friends, my boyfriend—my life was written from biking.” With that, Verbeeck hopes to head to France in an attempt for the world title. Bring Grandma: Hone your bike skills in a 2-person 1.5-hour intro class with North Van’s Endless Biking ($75), then head out for a nearby trail ride. Bring Friends: Inter River Park features a Nationals-level BMX track and plenty of extreme dirt jumps, but the 2-acre bike park is also a great place for novices to practice too. Bring A Body Cast: The double-black-diamond Skull trail on Mount Fromme is a death-defying plunge down a rocky road. Wear a helmet…maybe two. The Burn: Up to 600 calories/h (by someone weighing 155 pounds).