Pinkbike's Hurtin' for Vert 2012 - The Riders

Oct 25, 2012
by Tyler Maine  
Three years in the making after two unsuccessful attempts to get back into the hills and we've got Hurtin' for Vert 2.3 in full force. All mountain bikes, strong riders and 4 days of riding trails around British Columbia's Southern Okanagan mountains. The recipe is simple, bag as much vertical as we could each day, and once you see the stats you too will say we were successful.

Words by Tyler Maine, Mark Wood and Johnny Smoke (unless otherwise noted)
Pictures by Dave Silver (unless otherwise noted)
Video by Connor Mcleod

bigquotesRevisit the Hurtin' For Vert concept, eh? Like "Hurtin' For Vert?" The emails started back in the winter months, with lots of debate about where and what to ride. There were lots of great reasons to look at a return to the Kootenays, what with how epic that first edition was. Yet, when I looked at the pics from that trip (check 'em out, they're so sick), I couldn't help but feel that it would be a mistake. That trip was such a moment in time, to try and recreate the same vibe in the same place would be doomed to fail. We would be always comparing it to the last time there. You can't go back home again.

Instead, Wade and I thought we should try to showcase another region, and what better place than the Interior Dry Belt that we both can claim as home. The concept would loosely remain the same. One bike, big mountains, more down than up, but not full on DH shuttles. We would get our vert, but it should hurt a bit.

So I committed to making this one happen. Ai yai yai... That's a big commitment. I mean, the original trip was completely off the hook. Huge alpine. Massive vertical. A cast of freaks and lunatics that define our sport. How could I pull this off?

At least I know from past experience that a bit of a stomach ache in the planning stage usually means that I'm on the right track. A good tour is a lot like good theatre. You need to build the itinerary in a way that creates a sense of the dramatic, building with each ride to a climax that threatens to tear head from torso. With a start in Kamloops, and heading south into my home turf, I knew I could do this, but only with some luck and lot of logistical planning.

Many phone calls, several epic pre-rides, and lots of gut-churning hours of waiting for phone calls to be returned, and I knew I had it. The trip was on, I had the itinerary dialled, freaks and lunatics had a grid reference to meet at, shuttle drivers were retained, permits were obtained, weather looked pretty good. It was H-Hour on D-Day. The ache in my mid-section had been supplanted by butterfiles. All lights turned green, and it was time.

To Hurt for our Vert...again.
- Johnny Smoke, Bush Pilot Biking

Here are the riders (and their bikes) that took advantage of the call back from the original roster, plus a few new additions to this year's team:

Andreas Hestler, 42, North Vancouver, Rider
Bike – Rocky Mountain Slayer (165mm of travel) with Fox 36 (160mm of travel)

bigquotesIf there are annual events and this is one of them, then it's the only one I can't miss. This second running of the 'Hurtin' for Vert' trip will cement the legendary status of Johnny Smoke as the guru of adventure and this annual as a legendary mission to new alpine destinations and the bold exploration of more singletrack in a single long weekend than should be humanly possible - life is short, don't get stuck at home! - Dre

Keith Ray, 44, Whistler, Sports Chiropractor
Bike – Rocky Mountain Slayer (160mm of travel)

bigquotesAny day of the trip would be a contender for my best ever day of mountain biking...epic! - Keith Ray

Kurt Flaman, 42, Penticton, B.C., Bike Shop Owner (Freedom)
Bike – Specialized Enduro Pro (160mm of travel)

bigquotesJust one more climb... - Kurt Flaman

Wade Simmons, North Vancouver, God-Father of Freeride, extreme mountain cyclist.
Bike – Rocky Mountain Slayer (165mm of travel)

bigquotesI've traveled many places with Johnny Smoke riding mountain bikes in fantastic spots; it's guaranteed that you're in for an adventure never knowing how big or how bad, but always leaving you wanting more. The Hurtin' for Vert follows this dogma. - Wade Simmons

Mark Wood, Old enough to know better, but young enough to do it anyways!, North Vancouver, Program Manager at NSMBA
Bike – Ibis Mojo HD (160mm of travel)

bigquotesBack to our roots...big adventure rides into the unknown, but this time round with bikes that can handle the abuse. Smoke is a true adventurer and put together some ultra creative rides, plus we hit some local classics. His years studying topos enabled us to string together FSRs, old mining roads and overgrown game trails to get some massive descents on challenging single track-not for the weak! Getting there was half the fun, shredding with a crew of legends was the other half! - Woods

Richie Schley, Thirty Something, Whistler, Professional Mountain Bike Rider
Bike – Rotwild E1 (160mm of travel)

bigquotesFire up the oven muffin man. - Schley

Dave Burch, 37, Whistler, Real Estate Agent
Bike – Rocky Mountain Slayer (160mm of travel)

bigquotesKeith Ray, Matt Ryan and I do a lot of pedaling and Whistler XC riding. For me the quote of the trip that best summed up Hurtin' for Vert was from Keith at the top of 8000' before our ninth and last epic descent as he pulled on his knee pads (not something we normally wear) and smiled: "This trip is the culmination of all the best parts of 20 years of mountain biking" Thanks to Smoke who doesn't let any Peak go unexplored! - Burch

Simon Stevenson, Age Unknown (late thirties), An island in the Pacific (Vancouver Island, Courtenay), Part time Bike wrencher and guide, concrete laborer and full time municipal lackey
Bike – Trek Scratch (170mm of travel) with Fox 36 out front (180mm of travel)

bigquotesHoney badgers with double bladed loam saws, nasty stuff. This trip was amazing! Phenomenal riders and unreal trails. Can't wait to try to top this one, but we'll be lucky to even come close. Great people, great times, good food and drink, lots of Pilsner. What more could you ask for? - Simon

Mike Jones, 36, Squamish, Fire Fighter
Bike – Rocky Mountain Slayer 70 (165mm of travel) with SR Suntour Durolux RC2 Fork (180mm - 160mm of travel)

bigquotesDre and I have done many trips and adventures together over the years, literally since I was 15. When he asked if I wanted to come on this trip, I cleared my schedule and made it happen. The crew was top notch and most of us have been riding together since we started riding bikes, everyone was very similar in ability and speed so you knew that when you dropped in on any trail you were going to have fun either leading or following. I can't believe how much riding we did on this trip, four days, eight rides, almost 40,000 feet of descending... I can't think of the last time I had so much fun on my bike. I am also amazed at how far bikes have come in the last few years, they are so fast, light and reliable now; It was like we were riding DH bikes, only we could do major climbs on them and over the four days of riding there were only a handful of very minor mechanicals. Smoke knows the province so well, I would follow his wheel any day and thanks go out to him and all the others that made this adventure a reality. If you have a trip on your bucket list, my advice is don't wait, book it today and just make it happen. We are all looking forward to the the next Hurtin' For Vert adventure! - Mike Jones

Tyler Maine, 34, Chilliwack, Web Media with
Bike – 2013 Specialized Enduro S-WORKS (160mm of travel) with RockShox Lyric (170/140mm of travel)

bigquotesIt's taken us three years to get this group of riders back together and it was worth the wait. The bikes have improved steadily and continue to blow my mind as to what an All Mountain bike can do. The riding crew is a strong one as well with everyone getting through the rides and wanting more, even if more was a cold can of Pilsner. Three years ago there were only three of us on dropper posts and everyone rode a 26-inch bike, this year only one rider wasn't on a Dropper, but still, everyone was on 26-inch wheeled bikes. I'm curious about the future and what changes we'll see. - Tyler Maine, Content Director

Dave Silver, 35, Nanaimo, Republic of Vanouver Island, Photo Guy
Bike – Rocky Slayer (160mm of travel)

Image by Nic Teichrob
  Image by Nic Teichrob

bigquotesBest day ever... - Silver

Reg Mullett, 39, Calgary, Environmental Sciences / Trail Advocate / Bike Bum
Bike – Ibis Mojo HD (160mm of travel)

bigquotesOur sport is amazing, I am fortunately in a position to devour the treats of riding bikes full time for a short spell and having one of the best summers of my lifetime. A trip of this nature was the icing on my summer cake.

four days of adventure, eight skilled and savy riders, foreign terrain, the Alpine, smaller bikes, Pilsner and more than a mitt full of vertical at our daily disposal made up the glue that brought it all together. But it's the moments that will stick and they were abundant. It was a pleasure shredding the Okanagan with y'all!

Many thanks to Smoke and Pinkbike for dialing in the logistics and making this trip happen. Looking forward to more hurt and more vert next year!
- Reg

Connor Macleod, 26, North Vancouver, Starving Videographer
Bike - Rocky Mountain Slayer (165mm of travel)

bigquotesIs this thing on? - Chrondore

Matt Ryan, 35, Whistler, Specialized athlete/ Retail manager (Plumber by trade)
Bike – 2013 Specialized Enduro S-WORKS (160mm of travel)

bigquotesAnother trip of a life time! It's hard to describe a trip like this. To be able to bring together this awesome group of guys that can all hold their own and shred massive amounts of vertical all day long, riding bikes that can handle whatever we throw at them. Riding some trails that may have only seen a few tires rolling through is what adventure mountain biking is all about to me. Breath taking terrain and sometimes terrifying, with trail sharks left, right and centre. And some would say a regimented, flawless logistical masterpiece. "GET IN THE F*cking VAN RIGHT NOW ... OR WE'RE NOT GONNA MAKE IT"

We felt like an elite commando regiment, armed only with my Enduro, the double bladed loam saw. Lead into battle by our fearless leader, Johnny Smoke (The Big Lebowski of mountain biking). Our mission was to take down as much vert in four days as possible. Mission accomplished.

A huge shout out to Smoke, Tyler, Pinkbike, Specialized, Rocky Mountain and Pilsner for making this awesome four day excursion happen.

I can't wait to see what the masterminds will come up with for the next "HFV - Tour of Duty", but count me in for sure.
- Matt "I'm not a Dingo" Ryan

Johnny Smoke, 42, Peachland, Bike Guide
Bike – Specialized Enduro Expert EVO (160mm of travel) with a Fox 36 (170mm of travel)

bigquotesHmm...well if it's a quote from me, then it would probably be "Shut the F up and get in the F-ing van!". But that's probably a bit too real. The quote that sticks in my mind is from Dave Burch after the high speed section in the grass on the last day, because it's exactly how I felt the first time I rode there. "What just happened? Where AM I?" - Smoke

Brant Lyon, Victoria and Kelowna, Washed up DH Racer, Construction Guy
Bike – Rocky Mountain Slayer (165mm of travel)

bigquotesI was clenching my butt cheeks super tight as I was doing this sideways starfish through the trees, 'cause I'd been holding one in for too long and didn't want to crap myself when I hit. - Brant Lyon

Trips like Pinkbike's Hurtin' for Vert can't happen without a great group of riders and an equally amazing support group like Specialized Bikes, Bush Pilot Biking, Rocky Mountain Bikes, Pilsner and Thanks a ton for your support in making this year's adventure all time, we all appreciated it.

Now that you've met all of the riders, it's time to start tuning in to the adventure as the four day trip will unfold over the next two week's time in five instalments. The images will have you planning your own big adventure.

Happy Trails,

Check out the original Hurtin' for Vert series from 2009 while you wait for the 2012 adventure to hit the main page:

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
The Riders

Hurtin for Vert 2012 Footers by Johnny Smoke.

Posted In:


  • 17 0
 Slayers, Enduros and Mojos, and riding on those magnificent places... damn I'm jealous.
  • 1 0
 I was so glad to see the Ibis' and the Rotwild among all those RMs! I know that's one of Canada's big names, but there was a flood up there!
  • 4 1
 3 x 9 set-up and a coil shock on that E1 :/ why?
  • 1 0
 Did they make an XTR 9 speed clutch rear deraileur? I think it is 10 speed, but still agree, why three rings up front?
  • 1 0
 I'm quoting brule (a few posts below): "we needed all the gearing options we could get out there as the terrain was so varied day to day. Locally I could run a 1x10 if the front was a 28T haha!"
  • 2 0
 and not one nomad... surprising!
  • 2 0
 old news....Nomad is dead, everyone sold kids on the block
  • 12 2
 I like this very much! It cool seeing all kinds of bike builds in the most popular group now! I love the AM FR long travel bikes that can descend with power but also climb very gracefully even with 160-180mm up front! RideOn!
  • 2 0
 So many Slayer's and Enduro's!
  • 1 0
 They must be popular, ahahaahhahah I have no idea, Im loving my CherryBomb 6 from DAbomb! The new slayer looks very tasty I have to say!
  • 1 0
 Couple guys in there riding flats too! I wasn't expecting that with how much climbing these guys do.
  • 2 0
 Ya some of us ride flats fro various reasons - bad knees is a big one. But when climbing and hiking, shoes like the offerings from 510 and now Sombrio offer a good ground contact and no slippery cleat to worry about while wondering over rocks etc.
  • 1 0
 AM still stands as my favorite form of riding, great article
  • 1 0
 Me too, AM on flats covers any form of riding! Super awesome article, everyone looks extra grungy as well, ahahhahah
  • 5 0
 The Whistler locs call the park "the Office" for a reason. Bike park riding is just training for the real world. You're having fun in the park right now because it's where you're at with your riding, but given a bit of time you'll see what this is about. For now, you'll just have to trust me when I say that one foot of vert in the park is equal to 2 or 3 in the wild.
  • 1 0
 truth right there
  • 5 0
 I love seeing this sort of thing. Most of those guys are about the same age as me, ride the same sort of bike as me and do the same sort of riding.... Although they all look like they could do with a good wash!
  • 1 0
 Hahaha yep 4 days into a trip, the river at the end was a great soaking spot.
  • 4 1
 Johnny Smoke now there,s a name i have not heard in many a year , one kick-ass bike mechanic back in the day at COVE BIKES , same deal with Wade he did some wrenching there back in the day two great guys glad to see them still shredding . Mikey
  • 6 0
 Love Schley's Rotwild bike!
  • 1 0
 Beautiful bike!
  • 2 0
 I am stoked to see this. I am in the process of trying to get friends to commit to an epic bike-packing type trip next summer and this only fuels the fire!

1. ride out the middle of nowhere (strategically planned to have trail potential and yet be far from the rest of civilization)
2. set up camp
3. ride epic singletrack all day for tons of vertical
4. return for beer/food/sleep
5. repeat
  • 6 0
 'atta boy Brant!
  • 3 0
 Agreed. Great to see ya made that trip, Brant. Man, I love it when my Island boys clash with my NS boys... Thunder and lightning, conducting a storm!
  • 1 0
 Was in Crested Butte a couple weeks ago. If we would have had someone like Smoke set up shuttles and link trails together I can only imagine how much more ground we could have covered. 40K is huge for a weekend in the backcountry. Wish I could have been there.
  • 3 0
 Connor broke both of his hands through that doorway...but the best shot by far.
  • 1 0
 Conn-easy don't take no mess.
  • 1 0
 It's true, right? You don't do you?
  • 3 0
 slayers and endures seem to be the pick
  • 2 0
 Hurtin for a!! Enjoyable read and some really nice bike love the trek!
  • 3 1
 its confirmed. the slayer will be my am bike.
  • 1 1
 good for you Smile
  • 1 0
 Since when is the Schleyer on X-Fusion? Or is this a disguised Marzocchi fork?
  • 1 0
 He's riding for X-Fusion since this year as far as I know.
  • 1 0
 Yes he is an X-Fusion athlete nowadays as they have a pretty stacked group of athletes on their products.
  • 2 0
 Nice Job Johnny, Next year come to Peru for massive vertical drops!
  • 2 0
 how do i get my hands on one of those pilsner jerseys. so sick!
  • 1 0
 anybody else notice, they got the travel amount on the 2013 enduros... its actually 165mm not 160mm
  • 1 0
 Hang on a sec. Schley? 30 SOMETHING!?

The 20th century just called, said they wanted your youth back...
  • 1 0
 Just fitted a Bionicon chain device to my RM, excellent upgrade
  • 1 0
 Surprised to see so many double and triple ring set-ups!
  • 1 0
 Yeah, me too. I guess these guys know what they need, and the single ring set up would not be so leg friendly on those mountains.
  • 2 0
 Just as Lehel stated, we needed all the gearing options we could get out there as the terrain was so varied day to day. Locally I could run a 1x10 if the front was a 28T haha!
  • 1 0
 i was thinking some thing else when i read vert
  • 1 0
 Can't wait to see the day to day rides.
  • 1 1
 Nice to see Simon using the Kind Shock dropper seatpost! I've loved mine from the day i got it! Best on the market imho
  • 2 3
 I can't help but wonder just how biased these photos are considering both Specialized and RM seem to sponsor the event?
  • 1 0
 Myself and Dave Silver were the only two on borrowed bikes as neither of us had an AM bike at the time of the trip. I was able to borrow an Enduro, while Dave got one of Wade's old bikes for the trip. The rest of the riders all own their bikes. Specialized sponsored the trip in the way of P and A - tires, tubes and dropper posts in case folks got flats, wore out tires or broke existing posts = all items were greatly appreciated by those in need. Rocky brought on Connor and Dave to provide visual recordings of the event for us all to enjoy.
  • 1 0
 Fair enough, not hating. I have a Slayer myself, cracking bike so I can understand why many of these guys were riding them! Just scrolling through the pics I was so surprised to see just THAT many Slayers and Enduros when the bike market is so large and full of choice, then when I came across the sponsor banner along the bottom I couldn't help but wonder as I said in my previous comment Razz
  • 1 0
 I think it was a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. Even with all the choices available in that "All Mtn" category, Specialized and Rocky seem to be nailing it. But then again, the riders that shape the bikes for those companies are also fully dialled in to this style of riding. As they say in physics, Strange Attractors...
  • 1 0
 sweeeet rigs :-)
  • 2 3
 pfffff nobody rides Hardtail
  • 2 3
 Yeah, nobody except yer mum.
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