Riding Through the Ashes - Video

Jan 3, 2018
by Nukeproof  
Views: 8,568    Faves: 63    Comments: 3

Toxic air, reduced visibility, events being cancelled, trail building and maintenance restricted = less time on the bike… This issue could be perceived as a pertinent inconvenience to us bike enthusiasts visiting Whistler during the summer of 2017. A post Crankworx trip to the central corridor of the blaze and the visual realisation of the devastating effects were beyond anything I could have imagined.


The statistics of the natural effects from these fires are overwhelming. Over 3 million acres of wild forest and grasslands destroyed, along with the monumental impact to the habitats and homes of the BC wildlife. Smoke clouds visible from out of space, 39,000+ people evacuated from their homes. Only saved by a huge effort from 4000+ firefighters, risking their lives to try and control and minimise the impact of the worst fires ever recorded in the region.

Thousands of acres of destruction


It’s an unfortunate effect that with the greater access to forests there is a potential to heighten the human cause for these fires. Sterling Christenson and myself (Laurence CE) wanted to do our small part to raise the awareness of the effects of the fires in a recently extinguished forest, which created the catalyst for “Rise”.

Sterling, BC born and raised

Sterling is one of those fortunate people to have been born and raised in BC. Now being a Whistler local, he balances his work for the mountain as a millwright with adventuring on his bike. He has experienced the impacts of the forest fires since birth, so precautionary measures to reduce risks of accidental combustion are second nature. Perhaps this is not the case for the vast number of tourists that visit the resort every year. A by-product and almost birthright of being a local is that Sterling knows how to shred on two wheels, so he was pretty happy to help raise awareness using this talent!


Ash, thousands of animal carcasses that disintegrated at the slightest of touch and empty caverns with joining networks of tunnels where trees had routed but have now crumbled away. Woodland now leafless, standing like cindered telegraph poles, the eerie sound of nothingness as live nature has been erased and dull colors of black, grey and white engulfing the entire area. This location just outside of Cache Creek, chosen due to its near proximity to Whistler - its fires being a contributor to the toxic air in our bicycle playground. This fire was discovered in July and estimated to have affected over 191,865 hectares of land. This scale of land is larger than the area of Greater London city, and throw in a few suburbs to make a closer estimate.

Any trail that existed before the fire no longer did, resulting in us having to sculpt our own path. We ended up spending our first day scoping out the area and started building a few key features. In order to portray the scene of destruction in its true form we decided to keep built up features to a minimum. To maintain its raw feel, the few builds we did make where with the minimal resources available on site. It was pretty difficult shoveling for any good dirt or finding solid materials for structures as a lot of what we touched crumbled to dust... Luckily, the ingrained soot on my body and clothing did eventually wash out. However, the potent smell of ash still lingers in my nose when I reflect back on these shooting days.


They say people are less aware if they can not relate to an experience in some kind of way. Does this make people less prudent in causing a potential problem in the first place? I for one did not fully comprehend the shear turmoil that can occur by an incident that may have started from a small spark.


Words by Laurence CE
Photo and Video by Laurence CE



Posted In:
Videos Nukeproof


  • 22 0
 Camera operator needs credit for getting a face full of ash to capture a lot of those great shots..! We are wrapping up the Thomas Fire in our neck of the woods -- some of our favorite trails in Ventura and SB County scorched as well. We can empathize with the devastating fire does so well B.C... Hope everything grows back soon.
  • 20 0
 Awesome video. It would be super cool if they revisit some of those shots in a year and then compile and edit to show the rebirth as well.
  • 15 8
 Fire theme got me thinking...is there a potential fire risk with eMTBs? Ie. batteries or motors overheating. Probably not an issue with manufacturers like Shimano and Bosch, but when the market inevitably expands enough for cheap Chinese junk to start rolling out....

Not trying to fan the flames of controversy, just an idle thought. (Hypothetical) burning bikes in the Australian bush in summer would be bad, bad news.
  • 32 6
 Better ban them, prevention is key
  • 7 4
 I can see it now, all mtbs electric or not banned in California as a fire precaution
  • 23 5
 Not defending ebike but there is some form of fire in just about every video these days, camp fires, Remy burning whistler, Semenuk’s video where the whole woods caught on fire. Also your vehicle,drone,420 etc,etc,etc if you want to make an educated argument please do so but that was not an “idle thought” it was not a thought at all. I don’t like ebikes but even more I hate true stupidity.
  • 6 0
 Then ban cars too they catch fire on the side of the road and the flames spread up a hillside!
  • 9 1
 If you have any friends/family that smoke, please have a conversation with them regarding discarding their butts in the summer. We could've saved so much wildlife, time, money, and so many homes if people butted out properly. Frown
  • 5 0
 @rrolly: or just have a conversation to make them stop. Smoking stinks, gives you and everyone around cancer, and is a major source of house and forest fire.

On a related note, we are in 2018 and idiotic austrians and their governement keep postponing smoking ban like if Austria was a third world country, so every single bar/restaurant/concert/event stinks and helps you getting cancer. And there is nothing one can do, because some completely retarded governing idiots think "if we ban smoking all tourists will stop coming in our country"
  • 2 2
 @zede: they did just elect a for real nazi, right?
  • 2 1
 @Monstertruckermotherfuker: I can't make an educated argument about a product in its nascent stage, the effects of eMTB are yet to be fully realised. But if Samsung recalls an entire smartphone line because the devices overheat and catch fire, is it stupid to wonder if an upscaled version of that tech can do the same? Whatever though, don't care enough about eMTBs to get into a debate about it. I enjoy pedalling, no more to add.
  • 9 2
 Raising awareness to mitigate the effects of careless human caused fires is very noble. Forest fires, especially interface fires are very devastating there is no question. However, the fact remains, these fires would occur in natural cycles whether or not humans are around. It is the natural carbon cycle of the earth, it has been happening for centuries. When humans extinguish these natural cycles with our technology and mechanization and don't allow them to run their course; throughout the years we inherently cause a mass build up of available fuel to burn, which allows for these fires to grow to massive proportions very rapidly and dangerously.
  • 3 4
 Except most forest fire are caused by moronic humans trashing cigarettes ashes/butts while driving/ hiking, or by broken glass left in the woods, idiots firing tracer ammo, or people setting a fire on purpose.

Im all for letting the nature do its stuff, but if you want to let "natural" fire propagate then you also have to let natural epidemics spread, let people naturally kill each other and so on...
  • 6 1
 @zede: actually in Canada it's typically less than half: s3.amazonaws.com/chartprod/dkiGFa3vhtudxa9HH/thumbnail.png , and more related to larger scale climatic effects like the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (research.jisao.washington.edu/pdo) which act as larger drivers for the fire cycle. Multiple years of warmer, drier weather result in drought stressed trees. Interior BC has a particularly short natural fire cycle, which is important for regeneration of the ecological communities. Lodgepole pines for example which require fire for the cones to germinate. Unfortunately, the coexistence of communities in these ecosystems makes control of the natural fire cycle difficult to preserve houses and keep people safe.
  • 2 0
 @zede: Here in my part of the world most forest fires are actually caused by 'dry lightning' strikes we get in the summer, dry since there is no rain with the lightning sometimes with hundreds of strikes per storm. Not arguing with you just wanted to add some more info to the conversation.
  • 5 4
 @zede: Thanks for your sharing your opinion, you're entitled to having one. Please make sure you take the time to educate yourself and also make sure it is based on actual facts before you do.

You obviously have a very pessimistic lens on how you see your world. How you came to extrapolate, "let natural epidemics spread, let people naturally kill each other and so on...", from what I wrote, I have no idea. Opinions, no matter how relevant to a conversation they may be, they can never be allowed to outweigh factual information. That is how we end up with people like Trump in power. Isn't there a forum you can go troll somewhere with more bullshit?
  • 2 4
 @zede: Hahah, then I scroll down and see a comment from @tgreid. Someone who actually uses factual information rather than an opinion stated as fact. Hmmm isn't that interesting.
  • 2 2
 @Drewnose: @tgreid
wow it seems now BC = Canada ?
France : 2% natural fires
Spain : 8%
Portugal : 4%
Quebec less than 2%

You can say ooops
  • 2 1
 @OceanPhil: Yeah it totally depends where you live. Anyways, the percentage of forest fires caused by human or lightning is irelevant, what would be relevant to look at is : area affected, wildlife and human deaths, and damage cost depending on whether it was caused by nature or human. But nobody gave any data on this...
  • 2 1
 @Drewnose: How you came to extrapolate, "let natural epidemics spread, let people naturally kill each other and so on..."
Well you said forest fires are natural and because we don't let them burn, they burn even more. It's like saying diseases are natural and because we dont let people die, diseases kill even more. It's nonsense. And mentioning trump in this topic is also nonsense. Isn't there a forum for all this kind of bs ?
  • 1 2
 @zede: What a huge waste of my time, but here we go.

You're right about one thing... I shouldn't have made a poor attempt at using a reference to Trump as humor.

I will state this again... Opinions, no matter how relevant to a conversation they may be, they can never be allowed to outweigh factual information.

You're really reaching for facts, your discussion points are loose, poorly researched and communicated very poorly. All of the countries included in the study you shared are NOT B.C. or Canada, and they are all a fraction of the size of B.C. and to a greater degree Canada. You brought forward the statistics of the naturally caused fires in the mentioned countries but decided to leave out the statistics for the fires with unknown causes. In doing so, are you suggesting that these may not be naturally and are caused by "moronic humans trashing cigarettes ashes/butts while driving/ hiking, or by broken glass left in the woods, idiots firing tracer ammo, or people setting a fire on purpose"?

I didn't say this, you did, and again, how you came to extrapolate, "It's like saying diseases are natural and because we dont let people die, diseases kill even more. It's nonsense." from what I said, I have no idea. What I do question is, when did people start to assimilate dead fall trees, and under brush for you? There are un-biased resources you can use if you see people as trees and trees as people.
  • 2 1
In your original comment, nowhere you mentioned that you were talking only about BC.
If you read those links, you saw that unknown causes + natural was always inferior to 50%. So even if you think unknown causes are always natural causes you still end up with fires caused mostly by humans. In your own links, human causes fires are either above 50% or just under.
  • 2 0
 @zede: ummmmm....the article that these comments are based on is about this past summer's BC wildfires
  • 1 2
 @zede: Your lack of reading comprehension is remarkable... I am done with this.
  • 1 1
 @tgreid: yes this article is about bc wildfires. But if, as drewnose was saying, the goal of this article is to raise awareness about fires, its purpose is not local but global. Also Pinkbike is not nsmb nor theprovince, right ?
  • 1 0
 @zede: I will concede that you were responding to the comment made and not the article, my response was related to the article which focuses specifically on the BC wildfires of this past summer, and drawing global implications of these local fires to causes/conditions/consequences in other regions would be foolish.
  • 3 0
 I work as a wildfire fighter for the provincial government here in BC. I actually spent the majority of the summer on the fire that burnt this area around Cache Creek. These guys have put something great together that I have always wanted to do since I can remember. I spend an unfortunate amount of time away from my bike during the summer months, but it is all worth while. Please check your local fire danger ratings before you go ride, adopt safe practices when in the forest and grasslands and speak up when others may not be acting appropriately during dry conditions. This province belongs to all of us, lets keep it green.
  • 2 0
 I'll never forget going back into the woods after the 2003 fires in Kelowna. It was eerie like a scene from Mordor in Lord of the Rings. It was crazy to go on trails that you knew so well that were now pock marked with holes where once there was dirt and be able to see for miles in all directions where before you couldn't see more than 100 feet in any direction.
  • 1 0
 That was a gnarly time, my family lost their home in that fire. It was amazing how fast the fire blew across the landscape. It changed the whole face of that range and wiped out a lot of good trails...
  • 6 1
 No wood features were used in the making of this film
  • 2 1
  • 2 1
 ...too soon
  • 2 0
 It's not entiely safe in this situation. Had fires rip through some of our trails here a few years back and a lot of the remaining tree where buckled like crazy. Did not feel safe among them.
  • 1 0
 Trust me the air is far more toxic from the millions of automobiles in BC. Im tired of people describing foreat fires as un natural devastation. Forest fires are a natural process that creates a diverse ecology. Logging followed by poor forest managment then fire suppression causes the forest to become an explosive tinderbox.
  • 4 1
 Finally, a video where people can't complain that his Cutties are damaging the trail. Then again, this is PB...
  • 1 0
 Great video, fire sucks... It is a shame that here in the States they close all the burn trails and don't let the public back in. Might help raise awareness to the devastating effects of fire.
  • 1 0
 man all i can say is what a great bit of filmography from rider to all the crew and it just shows how much natier can take back what we take for granted lets look after the planet guys Smile
  • 1 0
 Nice riding, but the filming techniques should be improved. The video is not describing well great riding techniques, and even the music is not morivating, amusing or positive.
  • 3 0
 What a a surrealistic landscape ! sick
  • 2 2
 I see this and makes me sad that you guys rode on this fire ravaged land scape further damaging the land before the rain can settle the land. Talk about land management on PB, this is not it!
  • 1 0
 I think Sterling needs a new pair of socks. Great video, thanks for the reminder!
  • 2 0
 Great vid. Cool look. Big Grin
  • 1 0
 Bulldog to Nukeproof sick!
  • 1 0
 Great video!!!!! Congrats
  • 1 0
 Yassssss boys! ????????????
  • 1 1
 I feel like he should probably have been wearing a mask...
  • 1 0
 awesome work!
  • 1 1
 Riding a nukeproof in a nuked out zone of forest, pun intended??

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