Growing up on the outside looking in, Vancouver’s North Shore epitomized what I wanted mountain biking to be. Split times and podium finishes didn’t seem important there, and the trails in photographs looked raw rather than refined. The North Shore had a mesmerizing draw about it that let my imagination run wild, even from 1000km away. I wanted so badly to understand the networks of the three legendary mountains between Deep Cove and Horseshoe Bay. On a map it was clearly a finite amount of space, but as I stared at magazine photographs, and watched films on repeat, it sure seemed like an endless forest. From the foothills of Alberta, my surface understanding of the place drew a few obvious conclusions. The riders were revolutionizing what it meant to ride a bike, the trail building was influencing trails around the world, and both of those together made for some of the most stunning photographs I’d ever seen.
When I first met Wade, I was living in Whistler and was enamoured with riding the bike park day in and day out. Every time I’d come down to ride the Shore, I made a million wrong turns, chose horrible routes, and couldn’t figure out why it was the complete opposite of what I had dreamt up in my head. Wade’s famous for saying things like, “When you’re ready, the trail will find you” or “This is the Shore, buddy… the more you put in, the more you’ll get out.'' His ambiguous statements start to make more sense when you ride with the guy. The Shore’s network is a maze of greatest hits with no room for complacency. It’s in both Simmons’ and the Shore’s character to be challenging, relentless, and truly awesome.
The backyard of my home in Calgary was taken over by my brother, Peter, and I for a few years. We’d build ladder bridges from scrap wood, and elevate them using the sawhorses from our dad’s workshop. At one point we had ladders and skinnies stretching the entire width of the yard. They gradually rose up to drop off the fence, out of the yard, and into the street. The novelty of riding these suspended sidewalks has worn off for what feels like most riders, but it still puts a smile on my face.
We get to ride and play in amazing natural places that lend incredibly well to creating stunning riding photos and videos. As mountain bikers, we’re media rich with a never-ending stream of high quality content to passively glance at. The vivid photos of the North Shore from the late 90’s and early 2000’s have left unforgettable impressions on my mind. They represented so much more than just action images to me, it was visual proof of the life I wanted.
I now call North Vancouver home, and I’m proud to be a rider in the community here. I’d like to thank Wade, Digger, and Sterl for not only helping with this project, but for the continued inspiration they’ve given
me over the years. See you on the trails!
Rider/Words: Stephen Matthews
Photos: Reuben Krabbe
Video: Scott Secco
Sound Design: Keith White
Score: Oliver Brayshaw
Narration: Terry Walker