The Terrace Off Road Cycling Association (TORCA) welcomed a well-known figure in the mountain biking realm to town this weekend.
Nate Hills, an American professional racer and online influencer, has been sent by the Mountain Bike Tourism Association to capture footage of himself riding trails along Highway 16. He made his first stop in Terrace on June 21.
“We’re basically trying to highlight the riding communities that are north of the typical Whistler,” says Hills. “I’ve been riding bikes forever and what gets me most excited about riding is traveling… anytime I can experience [both] the culture and the trails, that’s what I remember most.”
Hills has been competitively biking since 2001 and in the last few years, began building his online platform by blogging and filming his mountain bike adventures. He quickly gathered thousands of subscribers via Youtube as many tuned in to his channel for ‘#FollowCamFridays’ where for two years straight every week and still ongoing, he’s been releasing a video featuring a bike trail often high on the list for adrenaline-seekers.
“I’m still technically a professional racer, but now I can reach a lot of people so to kind of blend the two together to like one big thing is crazy,” he says. “I’m just an average guy, I think that’s more relatable than like a lot of the really high-end production runs that people can’t really relate to.”
With simple camera gear set up in the front and the back of his bike, he says many people are drawn to his episodes because they can picture themselves in it. Many extreme riders curiously dissect the techniques that Hills and his friends use when cycling fast on difficult trails, especially if it’s one they’re thinking of conquering.
By being one of the first to offer a preview of a “catalog” of trails with stability action camera shots, he says the timing was right when he launched his social media career. There’s wasn’t anyone doing what he was online, so his content quickly gained fandom and popularity amongst both bike-enthusiasts and sponsors — and became his full-time job.
“It resonates with the average mountain bikers but we’re riding high speed and they can relate to this experience… And they can aspire to that,” Hills says. “It’s basically just getting more people excited about riding and keeping it organic… this is what you can do too, it’s not intimidating.”
In Terrace, Hills was taken for a few rides with TORCA members, touring trails Steinhoe, Downtube, Shangri-La, Maroon Mountain and even the new beginner loop, Hey Bear.
And for any young, eager riders, Hills says they shouldn’t feel the need to own expensive gear to explore, that any bike is better than no bike.
“Just go ride your bike and have fun, don’t sweat the small stuff… have a good attitude about it and have fun with your friends.”
Hills will also be visiting Smithers, Burns Lake and Prince George during his trip in northern B.C.