The “islanders” of Trek Red Truck Racing, both veteran and rookie, made their way to Swartz Bay Ferry terminal early on Saturday morning; each of them with thoughts of adventurous winter welcoming on their minds. The first team meeting of the year was about to take place: for some, a looked-forward-to ritual that allows close teammates to reconnect, for others, an exciting adventure filled with anticipation and opportunity to finally reveal what’s in store.

Everyone was buzzing, including myself. My first journey with TRT was about to begin, and I couldn’t be happier. The man who requires no introduction, Team Director, Steve Engh, along with TRT virtuoso, Kyle Buckowsky, met the Islanders at the ferry terminal in Tsawwassen. Hugs were traded along with handshakes and warm welcomes. We climbed in the car to begin the day’s adventure. The windows were steamed as an SUV filled with winter clad cyclists made its way towards downtown Vancouver.

The rain was coming down in spurts and fog loomed in the distance. It seemed difficult to believe that soon we would be trekking in a sensationally snowy pass. After a short time, we arrived at “the warehouse”, where even more hugs, smiles, and introductions took place. The crew was nearly assembled.

In a convoy of vehicles, we headed towards Cypress to conquer Hollyburn Peak. En route to the mountain, Steve reminded us of Clarke Lind’s KOM achievement at last year’s hike. Plots may or may not have been discussed on how to beat him this year—or at the very least, slow him down. It wasn’t long before we crossed the snow-line; rainy Vancouver weather disappeared to reveal a snowy scene so pretty an east coast kid might approve.

Finally together, team bonding commenced. Michele revealed the stash of snowshoes she’d kindly pilled in her car. The group left in bunches; most wore their snowshoes while others opted to carry them for performance purposes. Scorched snow was all that was left behind in Clarke’s wake. I left with the final stragglers but occasionally dipped off the path to explore. It felt utterly fantastic to be briefly back in my element—on 6-plus feet of snow, that is.

The speeds varied and TRT soon spread out over Hollyburn Peak. The friendly competition was evident as the pace would often rise among those who wished to race to the summit. The climb itself was challenging, but thoughts of butt-sliding and powder log rolling kept determination high. The summit was rewarding. The view was…white. After a few snaps, we started our way back down the mountain. Everyone seemed to enjoy the descent. Techniques ranged from careful treading, penguin-style, to bum sliding (no tomahawks). At the bottom, we gathered once more into the convoy. Stories were shared of epic snowshoeing feats, and a consensus was reached that the whole thing was pretty awesome.

We drove back to the warehouse to put on some dry clothes before heading to the Truck Stop for lunch. Having only been to Vancouver a few times myself, it was my first time visiting the Red Truck Brewery. As we pulled into the parking lot the first thing I noticed was the massive array of large red trucks—to be expected, I guess. Power Wagons and modern pickups scattered the lot, each in glossy fire engine red.

We exited the car and brought in the sponsor gear which was to be distributed later. While dropping off bags in the boardroom, the crew was treated to a front-row view of the massive brewery. The smell of hops was strong, and yet another red pickup was hanging from the ceiling. Downstairs at the Truck Stop, TRT team members were treated to a delicious lunch—courtesy of Mark James. Most opted for the mouth-watering burgers, which did an excellent job of filling up those who may have let their competitive side get the best of them in snowshoeing.

Next up was the first official meeting of the year. Formal introductions were made, and final paperwork was signed. The meeting covered everything we needed to know for the upcoming season, as well as addressed any questions folks had along the way. New clothing sponsor for 2018, Sugoi, was on location sizing us individually throughout the meeting. They did an expert job of ensuring all of our generously provided custom cycling apparel would fit correctly next season. With a variety of measurements, they suggested sizes for each piece of kit, which we would then try on to confirm. Photographs were taken in each clothing article for production purposes later on.

As the meeting concluded, riders were provided with backpacks and wardrobe courtesy of Michelle Davies and Lululemon. The clothing was a hit, with the boardroom briefly turning into Christmas morning living room disaster. Headshots taken by Brian Green finalized the day. With that, handshakes, hugs, and goodbyes were made. With the brand-new TRT squad’s first adventure in the books, the 2018 season looks like a promising one. New friendships and fresh teammate bonds are creating an exciting atmosphere for next year’s competitions. As for me, I’m feeling more excited than ever to prove myself during my first season in TRT red.