: Wade SimmonsPhotos
: Reuben KrabbePlans don’t always go as predicted, sometimes it's better, other times it's worse
| Stephen Matthews, Arduum|
..and sometimes, it's just different than first thought. The idea began with my guidebook business partner Sharon Bader, when I was busying myself GPSing trails for our latest Fraser Valley publication
. We were literally dumbfounded by the quality and quantity of trails that we were methodically guided through by passionate FVMBA (Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association)
locals Gary Harder, Rich Vigurs and numerous others. A month later while compiling all that sweet trail data, I got thinking that I had never really seen a photo story showcasing The Valley, apart from race reports and photos of the legendary Arduum DH race, the Bear Mountain BC Cup race and the popular FVMBA race series. Although rumor mill abounds with legends of The Fraser Valley’s single-track, I had no idea that it had been quietly booming over the past decade. I felt it was time to capture what the Valley now has to offer, and so I scrambled to put together a road trip to this burgeoning mecca.
| Welcome to the wet coast|
| We haven't even made it to the trailhead and we're soaked|
| Large bikes to start the day in a large amount of rain|
| Can't get over it, can't go around it, must go under it. Stephen Matthews, Sumas|
Some may consider it crazy, but the three different wheel size options, 26”, 27.5” and 29” now available for the mountain bike seem to be sticking. I’ve had the opportunity to spend ample time on each size, and find that each has its own niche, all of which can be found in the Fraser Valley. A story was forming: 3 different bikes to ride, a variety of locations, what was missing? Heck, why not do it over three days?
| Sarah Leishman, Vedder|
| Sarah Leishman, Vedder|
| One, bike, two bike, three, bike four|
| Coastal Fungi|
| Wade Simmons, Sumas. Lurking in the fog|
“Three for three!” I felt we had something to go on: 3 locations, 3 days and 3 different trails/bikes per day. The Valley was made for it. I fished around to see who would be interested, and was stoked to have Joe Schwartz and Stephen Mathews jump on board. Both are complete shredders with access to an arsenal of wheel sizes at their disposal. They welcomed the “Thirds” idea too: Three amigos, Three stooges, three dog night, three’s company, three’s a crowd, three mile island…no lack of ideas to run with evidently.
| Stephen Matthews, was in the hospital for stiches only a couple days earlier. Mongoloyd, Vedder.|
| Joe Schwartz cruises out a trail called 'Femur' after lapping Vedder|
| Stephen Matthews, man of steel|
| Wade Simmons, Sarah Leishman cutting into the Lorax's Loam|
| Stephen Matthews with Joes Schwartz hot on his tail|
Stephen asked if I had a photographer in mind, and I had not. He suggested his buddy Reuben Krabbe. Having only witnessed Reuben’s fine photographic skills in magazines and hearing of his methodical genius, I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t stoked. Another shredder who was thrown into the mix was Sarah Leishman, a close friend of Reuben and Stephen’s, and she's another all-bike ripper. Reuben and Sarah are logistical wizards and put the finishing touches on the ideas.
| Short punchy ascents break up the high speed singletrack of Squidline|
| Sarah Leisham, slithers down squidline smoothly in the sun|
| Lush forests in The Valley put Vancouver's North Shore to shame|
| Stephen Matthews disappears into the trees on Squidline|
The “Rule of Thirds” idea shaped the plans of our trip. In photography, “Rule of Thirds” is of course the only common rule of thumb for taking photos that mere enthusiasts such as myself adhere to when shooting on our iphones and point and shoots. Around the campfire the first night, Reuben enlightened us: he explained that the “Rule of Thirds” is a layman’s term derived from the complex “Golden Ratio”. Wikipedia quotes astrophysicist Mario Livio, famous for explaining and researching the Golden Ratio:
| One, Two, Three riders. Get it?|
| Wade Simmons, invented the sport and still stands head and shoulders above the rest on a bike. Squidline|
Some of the greatest mathematical minds of all ages, from Pythagoras and Euclid in ancient Greece, through the medieval Italian mathematician Leonardo of Pisa and the Renaissance astronomer Johannes Kepler, to present-day scientific figures such as Oxford physicist Roger Penrose, have spent endless hours over this simple ratio and its properties. But the fascination with the Golden Ratio is not confined just to mathematicians. Biologists, artists, musicians, historians, architects, psychologists, and even mystics have pondered and debated the basis of its ubiquity and appeal. In fact, it is probably fair to say that the Golden Ratio has inspired thinkers of all disciplines like no other number in the history of mathematics.
| All real outdoorsman should carry flint. What is a 'lighter'?|
Reuben then dove cerebrally deeper and explaining how the golden ratio relates to the Fibonacci Sequence and its significance in nature, and well, life, and lastly photography. The Fibbonacci Sequence, golden ratio, and spirals all appear with alarming similarity throughout nature, and in human's designs. Beautiful convergences of natural geeky inquiry. It’s all taking shape now, I thought to myself. -Pun obviously intended- Listening intently, I sipped one of our 3 types of BC beers, looking forward to a tasty breakfast of yes, three types of pork breakfast product. Eating, breathing, living in thirds.
| Onto the next|
| Gypsy Tears Ruby Ale, Stanley Park Amber, Steamworks Pilsner -All beers from BC's Lower Mainland|
| Bikes and Fire and Beer and... paradise?|
I contemplated in my mind how the Fibonacci Sequence and golden ratio could relate to mountain bikes specifically, as an explanation of patterns of product, or evolution of design. It seems lately a constant wheel debate rages in the MTB scene arguing the pros and cons of each. And, on the other hand, companies market bikes as “the one” bike, or the “quiver killer”. There must be some sense to it all I reckoned. Interesting the Fibonacci sequence of numbers starts as so: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13… and so on. The following number is the sum of the two in front. I noticed that up to the number 3 it’s sequential, but after that jumps are made: 3-5 and 5-8. Hopefully we don't Fibbonacci our way up to 5, or 8 standard wheel sizes, maybe the magic number is three.
| Back Bacon, Maple Bacon, Natural Bacon. This is Canuckistan!|
| Trail tools for real champions|
| Stephen Matthews cutting through the fog|
| Wade Simmons, at home among tall coastal trees|
| Sarah Leishman drops into Devil's Throat. Sumas|
| Stephen Matthews races into the dark. Sumas|
Waking up from dreams of 1-2-3-5-8-13-25 sheep, our first desination was Sumas Mountain. Over the next two days we would also hit Vedder, Thurston, Red and Bear. The plan was simple: wake up, eat, ride bike, take photos.
In theory simple to ride, in practice much more difficult; we planned to ride DH (26”) bikes in the morning, All Mountain (27.5”) in the afternoon, and rip an XC (29”) lap in the early evening. The logistics proved to be un-manageable. We sessioned our DH bikes successfully in the morning, had lunch and got back out for some afternoon AM rips. By the time Reuben had Golden Ratio’d both bikes, we had no time to rip an XC loop at Ledgeview. Not too mention we were dog-tired from hiking and sending and then swapping out gear and hiking and sending. Needless to say I was a little disappointed; day one and only two bikes ridden. However I knew the 29 would have it's share of the limelight.
| The climb to Thurston isn't a walk in the park. Stephen Matthews and Joe Schwartz|
| Wade Simmons leads Stephen Matthews and Joe Schwartz into the alpine meadows of Elk Thurston|
| Alberta kids in the BC alpine. Thurston's views look across the boarder into Washington state to the south|
| Stephen Matthews shows Wade Simmons how to turn right. 'It's just like riding a bike'|
| Candy Bars! (Supertroopers reference anyone?)|
| Stephen Matthews begins his retreat to valley bottom|
The following days continued the same pattern. We spent most of our time enjoying the DH and All Mountain oriented trails that The Valley is really most famous for. If truth were told most of the trails could be ridden on my 29er, but the group was having too much fun on the 27.5 machines. A highlight for me was having the opportunity to bust out the 29er on a high alpine, local only epic, Elk Thurston, where we were lucky enough to get some sweet golden (ratio) light. Reuben concurred. It made sense I guess that with the group assembled we would spend most of our time on the bikes we ride most often: DH and All Mountain.
| Stephen Matthews drops into the first pitch of Arduum DH|
| Wade Simmons commands his big bike down Arduum DH, full of committed, burley lines.|
| Stephen Matthews can't skip a stone, but skips his bike down the sides of mountain.|
| Wade Simmons guinnea pigs a big drop on Arduum|
| Arduum DH weaves through massive trees, has massive airs, and massive commitment.|
Leaving the Fraser Valley that evening of the third and last day, I pondered whether we had bit off more than we could chew. For sure we did, but we were honest and true in our efforts. If it were humanly possible to have ridden all three bikes each day, drink three beers and eat three types of bacon, and capture quality photos we would have succeeded. I suppose three was a crowd most of the time on this trip, bikes I mean. I can’t really say whether the trip turned out better or worse though in the end. It simply evolved in an unexpected but great rhythm, I suppose... in a Fibonacci-esque manner. As Marley sings in Three Little Birds – “Don’t worry about a thing. Cause every little thing gonna be alright”.
| Uh... bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes|
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