Saturday, December 20, 2008

Old Man Winter

My part of the world was paid a visit by Old Man Winter and we are now under a blanket of snow.

Today the snow conditions on the trails were spectacular. The snow wasn't too deep and was dry and powder like; offering incredible grip.

I was only there briefly but made my way to Snakes and Ladders and Shotgun. I carried my chainsaw and cut all of the fallen trees and branched off these trails and the road up to them.

Another stump carving at The Woodlot

The drainage trough on Snakes and Ladders filled with a small ice waterfall.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

IMBA Trail Clinic @ The Woodlot - Day 2

The second day of the IMBA trail clinic was all about building. Yesterday several projects were started and today the goal was to get them completed.

In the end, some mistakes were made and some of the features built will need to be altered, fixed, revised or removed.

I walked away having learned some new skills and ideas about building. I also learned some lessons from the mistakes that were made.

Additional work is going to be needed to get the sections of trail that were worked on running perfectly, but as with most things in life things can be fixed and we can all learn from our mistakes.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

IMBA Trail Clinic @ The Woodlot - Day 1

I was invited to attend an International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) trail clinic at The Woodlot to get some new ideas and education on trail building methods.

This blog entry could realistically end up a novel if I went into the details of all that was discussed and the work that took place on Shotgun. I met some great people and learned a few tricks in regards to building.

The active role that IMBA takes to keep trails open and legal for people on bikes around the world and specifically in the US and Canada is to be applauded.

The work and ideas that IMBA has about trail building and trail features is a subject that is hotly contested and open for debate here in the Vancouver area, but a tremendous effort was put forth by IMBA and the volunteers during the build today.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Don't mess with Mother Nature

One of the two stump carvings that has popped up at The Woodlot

I came to The Woodlot today with the intention of fixing or getting a really good start on fixing a ground water problem on Snakes and Ladders. In one particular spot, when the rains are heavy, water springs up from underground and flows like a river along the trail. I have now called this the Geyser section.

I met up with Richard at the bottom and we rode to the top of Snakes to recover a couple tools, and then down to the nasty section. For a change, I was on my hard tail.

Without going into the spirit crushing details, I feel our efforts would have been better served elsewhere. The lesson I have learned is that it is impossible to control mother nature. Ground water is not something to enter into a battle with on a single track trail. If you have ground water coming up, don't disturb the ground, just armour or re-route.

Currently we are left with a bomb hole. The water has literally created a bomb hole on the trail and a river where the trail used to be for a 20 foot section of the trail. If the line is to be kept I think I'll need a dump truck load of rock, or a big ladder section will need to be constructed.

After seeing the damage that the water has done, my plan is to ladder this whole section. We need to get above the water as it is impossible to contain, constrain or control the water.

The glove in the photo show two of the many spots where water is spewing onto the trail

Water is pumping out from between the rocks.

This shot shows the damage the water has done to the trail. The trail is currently a small creek.

Over the next few weeks I will be gathering the materials I'll be needing.

The ride out to my car was not one filled with a sense of accomplishment. Mother nature has beat me down.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Ride at dusk

So I jetted to the The 'Lot for quick ride. On my hard tail I scrambled to the top to ride Krazy Karpenter, Tsuga, Snakes and Ladders and Shotgun.

Tim has been working on Karpenter and for the first time in a while I was able to come up and see/ride it. Some nice old school woodwork it taking place on this trail. Over time this trail will get rebuilt with an ample amount of wood and old school features that many people just don't see around anymore.

At the top of the climb, you can see two of the local BC Cup race locations.

Tim's handiwork in the photos below

So after Karpenter it was over to Tsuga and then down to Snakes and Ladders. The light was getting sparse so it was a nice non stop ride down to the bottom.

On Shotgun I ran into a few people that were on their way home just like myself enjoying this clear cool day and using up the last rays of light before sunset.

A great ride in the dusk light.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Blood Donor Trail day

The local riding club at Experience Cycling has been putting in a bit of work during the fall season by coming out to The Woodlot once a month and donating some time on the trails. The organizers were Greg and Denise of Freeride Dawgs.

Today we moved a bunch of dirt to some berms and buffed up the landing to a particularly technical drop.

I brought some wood working tools to fix a few broken rung on one of the many ladders on the trail.

I have other photos that I'll add at a later date.

In the end a lot was accomplished and the trail will be running well for the winter.

It is great to see clubs giving back to the trails.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Yearly Trail Tune-up

After working on Snakes and Ladders a few times in the last month, I have been able to spot some spots along the trail that need some extra work to drain water of the trail and prevent erosion on the trail. 95% of trail maintenance is water control. If you can ensure that water will not collect on but rather flow off a trail, you will have a good trail requiring minimal extra work.

Today I was once again joined by a new guy to building; Richard. We met at the parking area at the bottom at 7:15am got on our bikes and walked up Shotgun. Pushing up a trail is a great way to show others what to look for on a trail as far as maintaining a trail goes and it offers a different vantage point to show others what works and what doesn't work on a trail. Once at the road at the top of Shotgun we pedaled up to the top of Snakes and Ladders. We then geared up and rode down to the tool stash and the water trough that we built last week. After a close inspection, it is clear that the trough is working well and that the water and silt that normally flowed down the line is being stopped dead in its tracks at the trough.

So from that point, we walked down the trail to clear and manicure the drains down to the bottom of the trail. We then back tracked to our bikes and made our way up the trail working on every drain, low spot and soft spot on the trail. Today we must have cleared 20 - 30 drains and did a substantial amount of work in 3 nasty sections.

The first big section we worked on was a soft mushy spot just above the rock faces. It was one of those spots where if your front tire sinks into it, you are likely going over the bars. Basically a trench was dug on the low side of the trail, a large amount of debris was moved and a 5 foot section of rock was put in the trail. This spot shouldn't collect water any more.

The next section we spent an extended mount of time on was the section that had me scratching my head last week. The underground spring in the middle of the trail was not actually flowing any water when we arrived today, but the muddy devastation the water created was still there for us to work on. This section is not going to get fixed in one day. This is definitely a multi day project but we were able to get a good start on the project and made a big dent in the work that is needed.

Firstly I rocked in a section that needed some reinforcing and Richard dug a trench and cambered the trail to one side to get the water to flow where we need it to go. I then dug out as much of the mud as I could to get the water to flow where I hope it will go once it rains again. We then shaped the trail and cambered the trenches as best we could in hopes of catching the water and forcing it to go where we need it to. For this section to get completely dialed, we are going to need rock. Lots and lots of rock. Gathering rock when the trail needs other drains cleared is just not conducive to good time management, so we cleaned up or work area and made our way further up the trail to clear more drains.

It was at the jump section and the trail gap where we met up with the first riders of the day. A group of 20 year olds on DH bikes out for a rip. They creeped on by but not before I asked them to stack rock at the section with the muddy flood. The further up the trail we went the easier the clearing of the drains and maintenance went and the more riders we encountered out riding on this fabulous day. I asked every group that came past us to stack some rock in that trouble section (20 or so people in total) and by the time I rode down the trail past the stacked rock, I was a happy camper. There was a decent pile of rock that will at least get me started on the fix for that one section. It is still a few build days away from being 'fixed for good', but it is at least partly under control at this time.

The last major work section was one I had worked on a few times in the past. Each year though it fills with silt, but I have a feeling this is the last time it will need major trail time. We cleared the punky black dirt and then dug 5 or 6 drains along the trail and put in more rock and dug a few trenches. I really hope this is the last time for this section.

I could not believe how time had flown by, but we were finally at the top of the trail and the drains were cleared. I had to jet as it was now 12:30pm and I was running a little late. I stashed my tools and thanked Richard for his outstanding effort that he put in today. Having a second person today allowed us to easily get more than twice the amount of work one person could do in the same amount of time.

On the ride down I was bagged. So bagged in fact that I had a hard time holding my handle bars because my hands were sore from using the shovel and mattock. In fact I skipped a lot of jumps due to fatigue. At the bottom of Snakes and Ladders I raised the seat and pedaled over to Shotgun and made my way in a mellow fashion to my car. The parking area was a total zoo; filled with cars and people mulling about getting ready to go riding.

I am really happy with what we were able to get done today and it will go a long way to keep the trail in good shape for the winter and spring riding seasons. There are still a few spots that need some TLC, but overall the trail is dialed.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Remembrance Day Ride 2008

For the last several years I have had the opportunity to exercise my freedom in life and enjoy a ride on my bike. Without the sacrifices of others during wars and peacekeeping duties around the world, I would not be able to enjoy this pursuit of mine.

It is with the greatest of respect that I go on my Remembrance day rides and observe a moment of silence to pay my respect to those that have sacrificed their lives to ensure my freedom and the freedom of others in this great country of ours.

Today's ride was on my Rune at The Woodlot. I made my way up to Tsuga and stopped at one point to talk with Lou and a buddy of his doing some much needed maintenance on The Gate. I then enjoyed a spin down Tsuga and then on to Snakes and Ladders.

Given the amount of rain we have had lately and the number of riders braving the elements on the trail, some wet spots have appeared on Snakes. Hopefully next weekend I will be able to repair most of soft spots that are rearing their ugly face on Snakes.

There is one section that has me perplexed as to what to do. Suddenly an underground spring has started spewing water out of the transition of a jump. Because of this about 20 feet of trail are now a wet soupy muddy mess. Last year this section was slightly damp with one muddy spot that was fixed, but this spring is now sending a small river down the line in an area of trail that will prove to be very tricky to repair.

On a positive note, the trough that we put in on the weekend is working perfectly and today you could hear the water pouring out of our drain and off the trail. It was really satisfying to see this drain working according to plan.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Trails 'n' Troughs

Once again I was back at The Woodlot doing some much needed work on the trails. This morning I was joined by someone who has shown interest in the past to come out to The Woodlot and help out.

So with the sun rising at 7:30am, we met up at the bottom and made our way up to Snakes and Ladders. Over the years I have strived do as much work pertaining to drainage on the trails as I can in the fall riding season. This fall is certainly turning out to be a wet one. So far I've been able to get the bottom of the trail dialed, but the rock face section is turning out be an issue once again.

Last week I was able to get up to the trail during a torrential downpour and I watched how the water flowed in a problematic section. Due to the terrain (rock face) and a natural spring that flows out from a section on the trail, there is often a tremendous amount of water flowing down the trail in a certain section. Due to the terrain, there was no way for the water to easily drain off the trail.

After careful study of the water flow, I figured out a spot where we could get the flowing water off the trail and eliminate any further damage to the trail.

We dug a trench perpendicular to the trail. A wooden trough was then built and inserted into the trench for the water to flow into and off of the riding line. Once the trough installed, it was immediately apparent that the water flowed directly into the trough and off the line as planned.

The trough at the bottom of the rock face.

The cedar lined trough

On the right is the high side with the water flowing down from up the hill. On the left is the dry side.

After the trough was installed, we rocked in a little more of the trail a little further down and then packed up for the day. When we left, there was not a drop of water flowing past the trough and it was working just as we had planned.

So we then made our way down to Shotgun and then out to our cars. Not a bad day of building and a lot was done to improve the trail. Next week I hope to fix a few more sections on Snakes that have 'issues' and the new guy said that he would once again like to come out to help.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Strictly Trail Work

Today I came to the Woodlot to do one thing: trail work. I had a heavy pack stuffed with all the tools that I would need while at the trail. The list included: chainsaw, hammer, axe, nails, shovel and pruning loppers.

We were experiencing an absolute downpour in the area so it gave me a good chance to see where some extra drainage can be done on the trail. At one spot in particular it became clearly evident what I needed to do to fix a drainage issue on the trail.

After the day was done I had the lower part of the trail virtually dry and I now have a plan for 2 more spots that have issues. The rains are now upon us for the season and at least on this trail, things should be looking good for the winter riding season in no time at all.

Me after a very wet afternoon of building

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Blinding Salamanders

Well tonight I hit The Woodlot at night with Tim and Denise. It was lightly raining on the way up and from time to time there were flashes of Thunder heard off in the distance, but nothing other than a bit of rain really developed while we rode the trail.

As we were pedaling our way up, Tim blurted out, "Hey look, a salamander". Now I've seen one salamander in the 5 years riding up here but no more than a minute later, he blurts out, "hey look....another one!". The second one was twice the size with a big pot belly.

We climbed up to Krazy Karpenter which Tim is now beginning to work on regularly a geared up for the ride down. I had on my 'loamburner' light set-up. Dual 50W with a 4-LED light and a HID on the bars. It was literally like riding in the daylight for me.

So far Tim has fixed the classic log ride at the top and is beginning to fix a skinny section at the beginning of the trail. Karpenter is all about old school technical riding of ladders, logs, skinnies and the occasional drop here and there. None of the flavor will be lost with this re-vamp of the trail but new things may appear from time to time adding to the character of this classic.

Tim, Denise and I made our way to Upper Toadstool that Denise and Greg have been maintaining for some time. It is such a great mid level trail that runs really well in dark.

We then hit B-Line for a bit of a change. 100% natural is the current theme.

So after the certified organic run down B-Line, we traversed over to Snakes and Ladders where saw two more salamanders. Snakes was running really well. Right now there is no water collecting on the trail and the trail for the most part is in good shape. Likely within a few weeks I will need to do the once over to fix any drains and wet spots on the trail. Riding such a familiar trail at night is a riot with others that know the line as well as you. We were hitting everything in sight until Tim hit a rock and cut his tire.

After the tire was fixed, we all rode a bit faster pace down to the bottom as it was now getting late and we were approaching the 3 hour ride time with all our stops. Shotgun was a blast with all the greenery encroaching on the trail and ripping half blind on a trail is a hoot.

At the bottom we each packed up and set sail for home. Another glorious ride in the dark.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Bad Karma?

Today I decided to go for a good rip. I didn't have a lot of time for my ride, but I had enough for a top to bottom ride and a little extra time to do some building.

I was on my Rune and made my way up to Krazy Karpenter where I geared up and started my ride. Timmy has been hard at work. On the first big log ride Tim has fixed the super sketchy ramp that joins two parts of a massive log ride. His work has now given that feature new life and should be around for a long, long time. The rest of Karpenter is eventually going to be fixed but for now, this is as far as one days work has gone. So my ride on the log was not without incident though. This big log doesn't get ridden by many people that ride the trail. It is a good 5 feet in the air and is often slick as snot so for those that ride it, there isn't really a great worn traction path on the log. I hit a snotty patch and took a trip through the air and landed 10 feet from my bike which was hanging upside down on a tree branch. It's been a while since I took a spill off this log, and this one was pretty damn funny.

So I got back on my bike and rode the rest of Karpenter down and over to Blood Donor. Donor had seen a trail day the day before. A big thanks to Greg, Denise and the Experience Cycling riding club!!, so the dirt on the lower half of the trail was MINT!!. I did at one point hit a soft spot in the dirt and took my second spill of the day, but overall I had a wicked rip down Blood Donor.

Blood Donor

So then Giant Killer was next on the list of trails for the day. This trail is a hoot and flows quite well. The trail days earlier in the year have helped with some trouble spots so for the most part it was a blast to ride.

I then raised the seat on my bike and rode over to Snakes and Ladders. I've ridden my trail likely hundreds of times so ripping it is a no brainer. I always have fun on Snakes, but karma must have been catching up with me today because I had a flat half way down the trail. I was running tubeless Maxxis Minion 2.35 kevlar tires and I put a good cut in the sidewall of my rear tire. GRRRRR!!!. So fixing a flat and picking my butt off the mat twice today I had eaten up some of my extra ride time that I had intended on using for trail work. In other words no building for me today. I think karma wants me to get working on the trails.

So after fixing my flat and riding out the rest of the trail, I made y way over to Shotgun and out my car.

Two wipe outs and one flat still equals one happy rider.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Blue Mountain Epic

So this morning I decided to go for a ride in an area I used to ride in 15 years ago. I got on my Rune and pedaled all the way up the logging road and access roads on Blue Mountain in Maple Ridge. If make all the right turns and get to the top, you are rewarded with a spectacular view of the Golden Ears, Allouette Lake and a good portion of the Fraser Valley/Lower Mainland.

Unfortunately though for me today the weather did not cooperate. It started our clear and I managed to get a shot about 45 min into the ride.

On the way to the top of Blue Mountain

But as I made my way to the top, the clouds rolled in and there wasn't any view to be had.

The ride up is not very nice as half of it is a push on loose rock and boulders, but the rest is a nice fire road climb. The descent is a blast, but nothing really all that special. Really it is all for the view.

View Larger Map

It is now late in the season for this ride. I hope I'm able to make it up there one more time before the snow, but I think I may be waiting for the spring thaw to give it a go again.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Loam soaked ride

So tonight I hit Burke Mountain again with Dave, Bryan, Steve, Denise, Greg, Tyler Gorz, and his buddy. To say it was raining is an understatement. We had a full crew out tonight and I ended up lending out some of my lights to Tyler and his buddy.

We made our way up to Vic's and began our descent into the aqua soaked forest. I have never ridden Vic's before so I was in for a treat. Riding this trail in the dark had me on my toes for sure as it is an old school nasty trail that would be a wicked ride in dry daylight, but in the dark and wet it was somewhat scary at times.

We then rode Lower Vic's which was just as nasty and put us next to the Coquitlam river at one point. The guys that ride here regularly say they have never seen the river raging so big as they did tonight. It was insane.

So we then made our way over to a yet un-named trail that Tyler is building which was a wicked loamy line that swooped back and forth down the hill.

The last trail for the night was Hustler. This is a trail I could ride over and over. It's tight and fast and makes you work to keep speed. If you can rail a turn, you will love this trail.

So we finished at the cars and everyone was soaked to the bone. We all basically loaded our bikes and drove home as quickly as we could to get out of the downpour.

Another wicked night ride and a few more to add to the list of trails I've ridden.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Hoots build and decimation

This morning Tim, Brody and I met at The Woodlot to do some work on a feature on Hoots. We made our way up to fix the last little ladder drop on the trail. It is a simple drop that has been on the trail since the beginning of time and ha seen much better days.

Our goal was to remove the old broken ladder and replace it with a new ladder that will last many more years. In speaking with many riders that have been on Hoots, this little drop is one of first they ever hit because it is small and has low consequences.

Old ladder before removal and replacement

After the ladder was removed, we installed the poles and nailed the rung in place to make the new drop better than ever and solid enough to handle many more years of riders.

The new ladder drop


A couple days later I went up to the trail to see how things were and to my shock and disbelief, the ladder feature was removed for what seems like political reasons. The behavior of some selfish people is absolutely beyond my comprehension.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Burke Loamfest - Night Ride

Night riding with a group of people that are experienced in riding at night is simply a blast.

From the ride up the hill to hiding just off the trail and scaring your riding buddies to having new odd sexual practices explained to you.....coupling!?!?!?!!!! wtf!!! All I can say is that night riding is a hoot.

The riders tonight were Dave, Connor, Mark, Steve and myself. Between all of us there there 4 HID's, 3 LED's and one halogen to light the way.

Every trail was new to me on this ride. Riding a new trail at night is such a blast and definitely keeps you on your toes. The trails were Dawg, Slayer and Hustler (pure loamy goodness).

After the ride, we did a little light comparison photo shoot to see what the differences are between the different bike lights on hand tonight.

In the end, it was the Loamburner that won the light fest shootout.

Loamburner Mk I Prototype

As a disclaimer absolutely no coupling of any sort took place during this night ride at all.

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Finally Some Help

For a while now I have kind of been bitching about the lack of commitment and help from people in regards to maintaining trails at The Woodlot. The existing group of people is getting thin and we have not quite been able to keep up with the needs of the trails. This winter WAS looking kind of bleak, but there seems to be some interest from a few people and some new blood is getting injected into our beloved trail system.

Today I took one of the new interests on a tour of The Lot. On the way up we talked about the existing trails, his previous experience and what his visions are of what needs to be done on the trails. It turns out he has been riding at The Woodlot for quite some time, but for the most part has only ridden a handful of trails. Today I took him on likely the oldest trail at The Woodlot.....Krazy Karpenter, which he had never ridden before.

This past week, Tim had done a fair amount of work on Karpenter. Nearly everything that was rotten and or broken was shut down and or torn out. I cannot promise the exact timeline, but everything that gets torn out will be rebuilt. On the way down, I showed our new guy some of the old school features and what we would like to do in different spots on the trail. He has the spark in his eye needed to work on trails. Hopefully this works out.

We then hit Tsuga for a nice rip on the natural side of things, and then made our way to Snakes and Ladders. We stopped in spots to discuss things and I cleared some drains in preparation for the winter rains. Overall, we had a good ride and he rode the new ending to Snakes and Ladders for the first time every today. Amazingly he has ridden past it for a year and never noticed it.

On Shotgun we played a little cat and mouse and were out to the cars in no time.

I have a good feeling that things will work out and we will have some new blood helping on the trails. There are still others that have shown interest and the more the merrier I say.

Things are looking up.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

A Classic ride for inspiration

Well today's ride was a bit of a last minute decision, but it ended up being pretty damn good.

When I left my house it was still dark (~6:30am), I got my morning coffee at Timmy's and I arrived at The Woodlot with the rising sun. I decided to push up Shotgun to see the condition of the trail on the way up and for the most part it is running well with very little water collecting anywhere.

I had forgotten to remove my single ring set-up I had on my bike from my last ride (Whistler 2 weeks ago), so the climb was a bit of a grunt up to the top.

My route was Krazy Karpenter, Tsuga to Snakes and Ladders and finally Shotgun. For the most part, Karpenter is beat down. It's a trail that's been ridden hard and put away wet far too many times. Over this winter I have a feeling it is going to see some love from some caring hands to try and bring it back to its former greatness.....stay tuned.

After Karpenter it was then back up to Tsuga for a nice rip and then down to Snakes and Ladders. This past summer the trail has seen minimal trail work and it is handling the traffic quite well. There are a few spots that need some loving, but from a maintenance perspective, very little is needed at this time. Over the last week, Tim had fixed some spots on the trail (log ride) and changed the last ladder down on the trail. In fact he removed it completely and put in a turn to the new line. Our plan has finally been completed and the old existing straight shot line is now closed. Today I the buffed the section of trail that cuts off the old line and sends you nicely along to the new end of the trail. I think all it needs is one more day of work to add more dirt after some rain settles the ground in and we are done. Unfortunately I forgot to charge my camera before my ride so no pictures of today's ride.

When I was done I packed up the tools and then rode out to Shotgun. A sweet little rip down to the car and I was home in no time at all.

Overall a good ride, a productive bit of building on a section of Snakes and a good long look at Karpenter that really sparked my interest in getting this classic back up to snuff.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Whistler Bike Park 2008

It has been over a year since I was last at Whistler. Today I was on a new bike but I was riding with familiar friends on some legendary trails.

Rob came down from Kamloops and Dave and I drove up from Vancouver. The weather could not have been better. 24°C and not a cloud in the sky. The three of us were pumped. Dave was riding his Orange 224, Rob on his Santa Cruz Heckler and I was on my Banshee Rune.

I have never ridden Whistler on anything less than 7" of suspension on the front and normally 7-8" in the rear. Riding my 6"x6" single crown bike was something new that I have been looking forward to trying for some time. My Rune is light, strong and pretty fast. It has great angles and an active suspension on the brakes so I was pretty sure I was going to have some fun..........more on that later.

Last time Rob was up at Whistler, he had a 'incident' on Crank It Up on our warm up run. I managed to capture him on film slamming into a huge rock after jettisoning diagonally off the box near the top of the trail. He had a demon to exorcise so Crank It Up was the first trail we hit today.

Crank It Up

Rob cleaned the section that bit him last time at Whistler and Dave earned a new nick name after we watched his run on video (Mr. Whip).

I found immediately that the Rune is easily enough bike for park riding and in fact it excels in most places. The mid size jumps of Crank it up, I was rolling with the same speed as my buddies but boosting twice and high and landing trannies with little speed. I totally admit that in the true high speed gnarl it would be nice to have a bigger bike with 8" of cush, but if it's not super high speed and gnarly rocky, the Rune was exceptional. On smooth trails like A-Line I busted out huge air (for me at least) with ease and was able to move the bike in the air without any effort. Dirt Merchant was absolutely insane on this bike. In the Garbanzo Zone the trails were far less effort to ride than in the past because of the ideal wheel base and snappy handling the bike exhibits.

2008 Banshee Rune in the Garbanzo Zone

We spent a fair amount of time in the Garbanzo Zone (upper trails) on No Joke, Goats Gully, Original Sin, In Deep, Fatcrobat, Too Tight and FREIGHT TRAIN!!!.

Words cannot describe how much fun I/we had.

Original Sin and Goat's Gully

Goat's Gully was a hoot. In reality it is likely the most technical trail on the hill. I slapped the camera on Dave for the video footage above which gave us a lot of laughs reviewing the footage afterward.

A section of Freight Train

I managed to hook up to Freight Train for a small section. Oh my was that ever fun. It's A-Line with a little gnarl thrown in. The container step-up is so much fun.

Too Tight

Too tight is Rob's favorite trail. Tight turns with trees everywhere. If you go off line, prepare to get bounced around. WIDE BARS beware!!

Ninja Cougar

Ninja Cougar.....imagine a downhill pump track. I'd love to spend a few hours riding this trail. We only managed to squeeze in one run on Ninja Cougar but man was it a blast.


A-Line, ooooooh A-line. What can I say.....I love it. Rob and Dave aren't huge fans of it, so I only managed to split off from them twice to hit this legendary trail. Man did I have fun. Every time I watch the video I re-live the ride anticipating the next time I am able to get to Whistler and go for a rip to catch some Air Miles.

Heart of Darkness

This was one of the first trails we rode on the day. Such a fun trail with tight turns, jumps and flow.


Fatcrobat is all about momentum, flow and good times. It's so much fun because of the low consequence nature wood work and the way everything links up. One of the best trails on the hill to ride with friends.

At the end of the day all three of us were spent. Rob and I were among the last riders up the lift at 5:15pm. Whistler has a HUGE following and is like Mecca for DH lift assisted riding. They set the bar to which all other venues in the world measure themselves and for good reason. Whistler is 110% pure biking enjoyment.

The boys with BIG smiles. (Rob, Dave, Dean)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

The night

The night riding season is now upon us.

Timmy came by my place tonight and picked me up for a night ride at The Woodlot. I was on my Rune and he was on his Norco Six with some nice 888's he'd just picked up from yours truly.

The sun is setting a lot earlier so when we arrived and were starting our climb at 7:30pm, we were almost needing our lights immediately. On the way up we discussed among different things, the state of trail maintenance volunteers at The Woodlot. I've had many offers of help, but in the end nobody is stepping up to help. Lots of take, take, take but not enough giving back.

We were getting tired of doing some of the same routes, so we decided to try The Gate tonight. In the dark it is not an easy trail and given that it is not getting ridden much and the log rides are slick and slimy, making them down right scary. There were also several broken features which made this trail a bit of a let down.

I slapped my camera on Tim and he did the filming tonight.

Tsuga was fun as always and flowed well with it natural terrain an exposed rock.

Snakes was a hood as always. We rode non stop to the decommissioned log ride and then ripped the rest of the trail to the bottom.

After that, Shotgun was not so good for me. #1 I got a big chunk of dirt in my eye as I was hitting a jump that I had to abort due to zero visibility. #2 I hooked a pedal......really bad and it bucked me a good foot in the air and I then came to a dead stop. I looked down and knew things weren't good. One pedal stroke and I confirmed my fears....bent pedal threads....time to get new cranks, grrrrrr!!!!!!

At the bottom we looked at my cranks and they cannot be fixed...oh well, $hit happens right!?! We did have time to review some of the video footage which was pretty funny at times.

Not the best ride for me due to my mechanical, but overall getting out and riding in the dark was a load of fun.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Photos in the park

I went to Golden Ears today with the buddy (Oliver) who had a baby a week ago. This was not your regular ride at all. In fact I was there to have some photos taken for a community project for the 2010 Olympics. He needed someone to photograph mountain biking and I was glad to volunteer my services. I am well on my way to being Canada's next top yeah, right!

I picked the location and let him know ahead of time what views could be expected, however the weather did not really cooperate and there was very little natural sunlight but working with what he had, I'd say he did a great job. Below are some of the shots that were taken.

The photos below were taken by Oliver of In View Images.

Oliver is a pro shooter, so he had several pro SLRs and the usual attachments that go with them. He had seen some of my helmet cam videos and wondered how I shot them. I happened to bring along my set-up and he was rather impressed. He also brought a very cool camera mount that I am likely going to borrow some time soon to get some new perspectives on riding.

Overall we had a good shoot with crappy natural lighting. Hopefully in then next few weeks we can hook up again to get some shots with better light.

After shooting I went for a ride on a trail that I had not ridden in at least 12 years (Viking Creek). Back in the day I would ride this trail on a HT with rigid forks and cantilever brakes. On my Rune it was far easier but still offered the challenge of riding really tight switch backs.

Oh my!!! LUSH single track Photo by: Dean

I then rode a unmarked trail that was as lush as they come. I plan on clearing it of some large fallen trees in the near future. In fact I cleared about 10 fallen trees on it during the photo shoot (can't take the builder out of the rider/model). I cannot wait to attempt a filming experiment I have been wanting to try on this gem of a trail.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

New life and familiar trails

It started with a phone call at 6am call from a friend. "Uh Dean, I can't make it this morning, I think my wife is in labor [contractions 3 minutes apart], have a good ride".

With that, this mornings ride then started with a venue change from my original plan and I ended up at The Woodlot. I climbed at an easy pace today straight up Shotgun in order to clear drains along the trail. The recent rains are showing where water is collecting, but for the most part, things look good.

I decided to just ride B-Line and then head over to Snakes and Ladders to stack some rock and then get home at a decent hour.

I haven't ridden B-Line in years so I made sure to have the camera rolling to document the ride.

B-Line @ The Woodlot from Dean Wilkes on Vimeo.

B-Line is a trail that few know about or ride, but is in plain view and a blast to ride. I definitely plan on riding this gem some more in the near future.

Over to Snakes it was and for the most part it was a rip of a ride. That was until I pushed the limits of my tires and railed a corner a little too fast and blew the bead of my rear tire off the rim. Definitely a first for me.

So after fixing the bead on my tire I proceeded down the trail to stack some rock and then I had to close a log ride due to a few broken rung that will get fixed in the very near future. I rode out the remainder of the trail and then proceeded to send it all the way down Shotgun to my car.

Over all, I had and good ride and got some things accomplished that I wanted to. I haven't heard back from my friend about the birth of his first child, I just hope the mother and child are doing well.
[UPDATE 8/25/08: Baby girl was born at 3am on the 24th]

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Fromme at Sunrise

This morning I was up and on the road at sunrise; witnessing a golden morning sky is truly a sweet sight.

It had been a long time since I rode Mount Fromme (Grouse) so I made it my venue of choice for today's ride.

Riding the Rune has opened up a lot of options for me as a rider because it is such a good pedaling and climbing bike. In fact I had my bike set up with a single front chainring and a chain guide today and I had no issues at all climbing up Mountain Highway and up the gravel access road to the trail head of 7th. In the past I used to need a granny on mountain highway to the gravel, but not anymore.

I like to climb at a mellow pace and today from the water towers to the trail head at Secret 7th it took me 55 minutes. I also took note that it took 15 minutes from the bottom of 7th to the top of Upper Oil Can.....more on that later.

So 7th, the infamous 'secret' trail of yesteryear. This trail is such a great trail to flow down at a mellow pace an just enjoy the terrain and the spectacular trail work done by members of the NSMBA. I had a very nice ride as seen in the video below.

So keeping track of my climbing time was important on my first ascent. It gave me a good idea of my pace in the morning, but also gave me a good idea of how long my second lap of the upper trails would take. I started back up the trail to Upper Oil Can and 15 minutes later, I was riding down again.

I very rarely ride Fromme and Upper Oil Can (UOC) but today's ride felt great and brought back memories of riding it at night a few years back with Rob. It seems I haven't been riding skinnies enough lately as I slipped off a few in the super technical section, but most were cleaned with a smile.

I had kind of planned to the ride Ladies Only after UOC, but I remembered that I had never ridden Pipeline, so I decided to give it a go. I think I made a good choice. It's a wickedly fun trail with low consequence features all along the trail.

So after Pipeline I traversed over to Lower Ladies Only. Unfortunately by this point I had run out of recording time on my camera so I was not able to film Lower Ladies. Just think old school steep, some tech and the very first roller coaster in existence.

Down to the car and I was home by 9:30am.

It was nice riding Fromme again and getting in a good pedal. Next time I'll make sure to have enough film for Lower Ladies for sure.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Golden Ears XC Ride

I hooked up with Cory today to ride in the Golden Ears Provincial park. It is literally a stones throw from my house. Many years ago (17 to be exact) this was the place where I learned to ride a mountain bike. XC hard-tail with rigid forks, cantilever brakes, U-Brake on the BB and 1.8" tires. Back then if you made it through a ride without a flat, it was considered a good ride.

Cory single-tracking

So Cory guided me along some of the trails I was familiar with and others I have never seen before. This place is literally teaming with wicked XC trails. At the end of the day our ride was 25km; we started with overcast skies but finished in a torrential downpour. A few words that describe this ride: lush, rain forest, buff and flow.

It is rides like this that remind me that riding DH or FR isn't what it is all about. These rides remind people that there is a lot more to riding than just going fast. I was exhausted at the end of the ride, but felt invigorated to get out and ride trails like this again sometime very soon.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Cedar Relics

Today I went for a ride and somewhat of a walkabout. It has been a few years since I went for a walk in the forest looking for old abandoned trails and other things that are hidden in the forest.

I arrived early in the morning and started my climb up the hill and came upon two tents plopped right in the middle of the trail. As I rolled through their 'camp' I noticed broken bottles, garbage and other stuff, but I just kept going. But I thought to myself that there are going lots of people riding today and these guys really should not be where they are, so I rolled back to their camp and just spoke out loud to them. I definitely had their attention because one dude shot up out of his tent likely thinking I was a bear.

I was polite, but very concise in telling them that they should not be camped where they are, they were camping in the middle of a trail and in 2 hours they can expect 50 people coming by and I told them to clean up their mess. The dude that was out of the tent seemed receptive to my recommendations and I was on my way for my ride. Odd beginning to my ride for sure.

Two tents complete with tikki torches

So I made my way up to Gold. This is one of the original trails that was constructed when 'free-riding' was just in it's infancy and the legends of 'North Shore' trails were just beginning to be whispered amongst mtn bikers. Currently Gold is closed and should not be ridden. I went for a ride/walk down it to document its condition and to see first hand up close what needs to be fixed before it could be considered to to opened again. What I found was kind of depressing. EVERY single wooden feature is broken and needs to be fixed. The years of riding, weather and negelct has taken it's toll on this former gem of a trail and there are too few people dedicated to keeping the trails running. This trail has been taken off the maintenance radar. Maybe one day it will see some loving, but it will not be open for riding any time soon.

So after Gold and some other trails I went on a walkabout to see what I could find. What I did manage to find was an old logging road and a couple HUGE dead standing trees that may one day be linked up together with a bridge. This can only happen if other people start helping to maintain the trails so in reality this will likely never happen.

A massive ancient dead standing tree

During my walkabout I ran into Dave that hikes up here all the time on the weekends. I showed him the logging road I found and then we parted ways in the forest. We certainly startled each other seeing someone else in the forest this early in the morning.

So I then rode over to line that is not suppose to exist. Looks like a very cool line with some nice rock faces. If completed it will be a cool line, but only time will tell if it gets completed. I then made my way over to Snakes and Ladders where I had planned to do a little buffage of some sections, but my partner in crime on the trail moved the tools and I had no idea where to look for them. So I just continued riding.

Out to the road and over to Shotgun I went for the quick rip to my car. I had an excellent ride with a good hike thrown in there. So many things I'd like to do on the trails and so little time to do them.