Bill McLane is a bear of a man. With his winter beard fully grown he looks as if he could fend off an army of White Walkers singlehandedly. He’s spent the past eight years working as a forest fire fighter during the summer months and spending the winter building trails on Vancouver Island. In person, he is humble to the point of embarrassment over any compliment and shrugs off praise with an ‘aw shucks’ awkwardness - maybe he doesn’t realize just how gifted he is with a chainsaw and shovel? And maybe gifted isn’t the right adjective to describe him since it’s not really a gift: trail building is an art learned the hard way, through thousands of hours spent in the woods carving out your vision of the ultimate ride.
McLane, 32, de-barks every piece of lumber used on his trails. This practice increases the longevity of wooden structures by making it harder for rot to develop, but it also increases the amount of work that goes into each bridge. McLane is the type of dedicated builder that can change a whole community’s riding scene. He’s the guy with a shovel and a vision, who works tirelessly and often thanklessly to build trails that will see thousands of tire tracks and uncountable post-ride smiles. His first masterpiece, Bob’s Your Uncle, looks as if it were machine built, but is simply the work of McLane and friends over several winters.
| Bill is the dude in Nanaimo that truly loves creating new features and trails. Every community needs a passionate person like that and he is Nanaimo's. Working with him on this line was an all around pleasure. I knew he was a good guy immediately after dropping some Simpsons quotes. From that moment on, I knew it was going to be a good time.|
Geoff Gulevich, 28, burst on to screen in The Collective way back in 2004. At the time of filming he was 16, tattoo-less, and riding the ladder bridges which came to define ‘North Shore’ riding to the world. Since then, he’s become one of the most well-rounded riders in the world, a 5th place finisher at both Red Bull Rampage and Red Bull Joyride. Gully is laid back, with a simultaneously genial and juvenile personality. He’s got the fart joke sensibilities of a Seth MacFarlane movie, but knows how to dial it back when it’s time to get focussed and ride. He’s also tough as hell. Gully tomahawked straight to his face on the third shot of the very first day of filming but, after a rest day, came back strong to finish the segment.
| I was nervous meeting Gully for the first time, but once we started building together it became apparent that were going to get along great. I put Gully up in the spare room at my house, a room piled high with storage boxes and big inflatable air mattresses that he could crash in while he was over on the Island. He seemed happy as a clam in there! We built in some truly miserable weather at times, but weren't above calling it early some days to come back to town for some Noodle Box. When the sun doesn't light the bush until 10 a.m. and sets at 4 p.m. it really limits what you can do out there in a day, you've got to be on it. If you don't get out there before 10 a.m. I figure you might as well not go out at all. I'll never forget Gully standing in the doorway of his room in his underpants asking if we really had to get up yet. He's a hard working dude and still managed to squeeze in blocks of time to come over and help me dig, which was an enormous help. We'd build all day and then come back to the house, clean up, go out for sushi, or to the pub down the street for wings, then come back to the house and watch a movie while we fell asleep on the couch. It was super romantic... haha. When he first came over I had nothing built yet which I was embarrassed about, but it turned out to be for the best because it meant we designed the line together and the features were tailor made to suit his riding style and preferences. |
McLane stressed for weeks about meeting Gully, ’’I was all nervous picking him up from the ferry, I had to make sure I had good songs on my playlist for the drive. I wanted to seem cool.’’ He needn't have worried. McLane’s previous trails had been made for himself and others in the local community, and were not designed for an elite athlete’s segment in a movie. Gully and McLane spent a week hiking and planning what would eventually become the trail we filmed. McLane’s inspiration came from the classic lines built by Riley McIntosh for Wade Simmons to ride in the New World Disorder series. However, unlike those NWD trails of yore, Gully’s line was not built in a cedar forest. All of the slats seen on the trail were hiked in. Sometimes you’ve gotta pay to play.
I think every great riding town has an unsung hero like Bill McLane, the person who builds with a headlamp after work, through rain, sleet, and snow, on statutory holidays, and on weekends; the man or woman who cares more about perfecting a corner than they do about riding it. McLane’s passion for the sport is such that he’s spent more time with his hands on a shovel than on his grips. He is one of many un-sung builders in BC and his trails are ridable art. If you can’t be this person making a difference in your own community, then at least leave a few beers for them on that one new section they’re currently working on. Cheers to the builders.
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