If you've been following the turning of the wheels here on the Shore as of late, then you know there's some good things happening. For those of us that live here, dig here and ride here, that's definitely an understatement. What has been quietly building in momentum for the last three years is now exploding out of the gate like Stevie Smith at Mont Ste. Anne! What once was lost, now is found, and our future here looks brighter than ever.
You'll never take the gnar outta the Shore. Simmons knows where the nugs are. Photo: Sterling Lorence
Not so long ago, the Shore gave birth to Freeride on the shoulders of some of the biggest names in the sport. Simmons, Super T, Gully, Vanderham & Shandro rode into the history books on outlandish creations borne from the hands of Digger & Dangerous Dan. It is a history every mountain biker knows well. Captured on celluloid in Digger's NSX videos, it spurred the building of Shore style stunts round the world. Although the world seems to think the Shore is all about ladder bridges and log rides, take Shore local Thomas Vanderham's words from Follow Me: "When I go out and ride I don't ride skinnies and I rarely ride anything that's built out of wood." Despite the following segment showing Thomas no-handing a massive platform gap over a creek, the old stunts that riddled the Shore are dying a long, slow death.
|When I go out and ride I don't ride skinnies and I rarely ride anything that's built out of wood. - Thomas Vanderham|
Rotted wood on Pink Starfish. Slicker than puppy shit on a hardwood floor and rotten as a witch's tit.
We find ourselves in a new era. As the old stunts rot out, (presenting an entirely different challenge to the rider in the interim stages of decay) the capacity to replace every expired platform or skinny amassed over the past twenty years simply isn't there. Nor, seemingly, is the appetite. The community is pulling together in a showing of arms to rebuild and revitalize our treasured trails, literally from the ground up. Hundreds are hard at work on the steep mountain faces, building bridges, diverting water and throwing dirt. But not everyone one is happy. As rotted stunts are removed, erosion undone and sustainability sought, a select few condemn the efforts as 'dumbing down' the Shore. But, with the amount of deferred maintenance bottle-necked in our 20+ year old network, neglect is no longer an option.
Those that truly know the Shore fear nothing. Thankfully, you can never take the gnar out of the Shore. For the vocal minority that seem unable to accept the change in our midst, Wade Simmons, now Director with the NSMBA, has a standing offer. "Anyone who thinks we're 'dumbing down the Shore', I'll be happy to take them for a ride." I'd carefully consider that challenge before accepting. Many upper level challenges still lurk in the mist for those that want it, but now there's something for everyone. Patching holes, fixing drainage, finding sustainable alignments, add in some flow, cohesive connections and shralpable corners, and it appears things are being smartened up rather than "dumbed down". Fortunately, our pursuit of sustainability is not only harmonious with a positive ride experience, it's strengthening relations with Land Managers & the broad based community, resulting in successful grant pursuits which in turn, fuels the trail work.
Digger leading the charge on Expresso. Photo: Jerry Willows
Bench cut?! On the Shore?! Photo: Norma Ibarra
"The Shore has never been running better!" Digger has a big smile on his face, happy to be 'throwing dirt in the noon day sun!' The original founder of the NSMBA, it's only fitting he has returned to the Directorship this year. "The trails were never like this in the beginning, we're just bringing them back to where they began!" He's busy filling in deep trenches on the Baden Powell, one of the most heavily used arteries on Fromme, beaten down from hikers, dog walkers and bikers since its creation in 1970. The NSMBA has stepped up to restore this community treasure, for the betterment of all, further establishing a position of leadership and proving our worth to the budget strained Land Managers.
|The Shore has never been running better! The trails were never like this in the beginning, we're just bringing them back to where they began! - Digger|
Our new found expertise is taking form in reroutes and water management, grade reversals and outslope, banked corners and flow. Water dispersion is paramount in a climate that sees over 2000mm of rain per year (that's 6 feet, or 72 inches for our brethren south of the border), yet little drainage was implemented in the original builds. Sustainability was an unknown term in the era when the Shore first rose up so long ago. Combine the lethal combination of our waterlogged climate, inherited fall line trails and heavy, year round ridership, many of the trails have eroded down to the bones. We've been busy retrofitting the worst sections, integrating a new school flow while keeping those heavy tech sections that we love so much. After all, the Godfather is an integral part of our tactical approach. Chunky technical and flowy goodness is proving a combination that incorporates the best of both worlds, inviting new riders into the fray while keeping the 'ol timers' happy retaining progressive lines. At least some of us.
Still having problems finding the gnar gnar? Maybe ask Arthur "Gnar Gnar" Gaillot. Arthur on the Skull. Photo: Mark Wood
While steep & deep still abounds, the sport is opening to other skill levels with the building of flowy XC trails like the Salamander, Gnomer and Defibrillator. "Lower Seymour has never been better!" Kevin Calhoun, pro rider for Rocky Mountain Bikes, has long been riding Shore circuits that would kill a goat. "It's not a select group of riders out here anymore, the sport has exploded and the trail network needs to expand to accommodate." Its enlightening to see this benevolence in vision, especially from a long time core rider who holds innumerable podium finishes.
|Lower Seymour has never been better! It's not a select group of riders out here anymore, the sport has exploded and the trail network needs to expand to accommodate. - Kevin Calhoun|
Mathew Bond, the NSMBA's youngest and longest serving President, rallies the troops in the early morning on Seymour Mountain. Photo: Norma Ibarra
Fashionable detritus on Boogieman. Did I mention puppies & witches?
To tackle this monumental task, our solution had to come from within. Our first priority was to build capacity by empowering the community. Knowledge is power and therefore education key. With initiatives like the North Shore Builders Academy
, the knowledge base has grown exponentially, and continues to grow. 187 graduates from 2012 have now become our elite forces: the Shore Corps. As evidenced in our first trail day of 2013, held this March, we have become a formidable machine capable of high quality work in short order. Combine this with the North Shore Trail Adoption Plan
, what first seemed insurmountable is now within our grasp. We are literally rebuilding the Shore, making up for lost decades. TAP has taken on a life of its own, thanks to the Adopters who care enough to give back. Last year TAP tallied 70 trail days alone, with 100 optimistically projected for 2013. With the recent pilot project gifting the TAP framework to our brotherhood in the valley, the Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association
is helping to strengthen efforts through partnerships and knowledge sharing while at the same time fulfilling the mission of the NSMBA: Trails for all, trails forever
The Shore Corps: Ready, willing & able. Our latest trail day this March, hosted by MEC. "The world is run by those who show up."
Support those who support the Shore.
The corporate support has been the gas in the tank and is allowing us to tackle projects once thought beyond our scope. With thanks to some solid backing from some big names in the sport, we are tapping into greater opportunities to keep the machine moving forward. Our list of donors and sponsors is strong and deep, ranging from local industry to national and international supporters. Although Arc'teryx doesn't even make bike gear, they live and play here on the Shore and are giving back as title sponsors of the Builders Academy while at the same time reinventing Dreamweaver on Fromme as part of TAP. MEC have been working tirelessly transforming Expresso under the watchful eye of Digger and have also granted the NSMBA $15 000 to revitalize the Bridle Path
. While lead builder Matt Preston leads his crew on the Bridle, Digger and his team of builders are tackling the restoration of the Baden Powell
trail (built by the boyscouts in 1970, of which Little Digger was one) thanks to grant monies from the CP Loewen Foundation. Beyond these two projects, each massive on their own, TAP is tackling another 25 mtb and multi use trails in 2013. The NSMBA is working on trails that benefit not just the riders, but the greater community, giving us a broader respect that is echoing in some exciting opportunities on the near horizon. We are proving to the Land Managers and the non endemic community that we are responsible, capable and a valuable ally.
Got wood? Sure, we got wood. Digger craftsmanship on Lower Ladies.
Regardless, when we are gone, the forest will take it all back in the ongoing cycle of ruin & renewal.
Two gargantuan projects, led by the NSMBA for the betterment of the greater community.
Perhaps not as sexy as building big drops and sick gaps, we're taking on much needed work, long overdue. Thankfully, we seem to be catching up, and doing it in double time. At the same time, we're learning how to work with the Land Managers, in a place marred by a history of strained relations. We now seem to be pulling on the rope in the same direction at a serendipitous time when our capacity snowballs. Hundreds of people are making it happen, pledging their allegiance to the cause. A fellow builder put it to me best "you've got to bake the cake before you put the icing on." Using this analogy, right now, our cake's in the oven. Our next phase is sure to be an exciting one as we get ready to put the icing on the cake. In the meantime, make no mistake, the Shore is open for business.
Business time. Irish Pete, Digger and Podo working on the Baden in torrential downpours for weeks on end.