Vancouver Island - Late March 2010 Trip

Apr 2, 2010
by Tyler Maine  
This past weekend I had decided that I required a long weekend and that I’d either tee up the interior or the island. The island won the coin toss – ok so we have a rider on the island who’s parts I had to deliver and I have great friends over there that love bikes. Plus was gonna rain all weekend, might as well ride in a new zone and really experience it. Mike had decided that the F1 race on Sunday was of higher merit over a road trip, so it was full solo, but full of great island friends.

Full story and pics inside,I left Pinkbike HQ just after 6PM and already knew that I’d missed the 7PM ferry from Horseshoe bay, so I was running hot in Cozy Rosie as we bee lined it for the Tsawwassen (really how do you spell that) ferries to Nanaimo. I had Cozy packed down with the Norco Fluid LT 6.1 in the box and the cab is full of parts for Simon Garstin – literally full – check the pics!

I arrived with a good 20 mins to spare, so it was time to grab any warm food I could find and relax and try to figure out the new camera I picked up for work yesterday, a Canon G11. I can see why Mike shot on Auto for so long, as I have a ton to learn, but hopefully it’ll be greater pics for all you readers – not only of the blog, but the main site too.

The ferry sailing was painless and I probably slept for at least 40-50 mins, just enough to make the drive up island easier. Simon had emailed me directions to his place and I was greeted by 3 ducks, guard ducks I am sure.

I woke up to the smells of home cooked food wafting into my room – yep I was not in Chilliwack today! Clouds were forming, but mild out and I was looking forward to riding any trail today. Post breakfast, Simon had something that he wanted to show me and I was told to bring a camera. First it was kittens, then the guard ducks, I was beginning to think this hobby farm was alright! Low and behold it had nothing to do with animals or vegetables, Simon wanted to show me the evolution of 8 years of digging. Below is how this downhill racer’s DJ set looks today.

Simon began the project some 8 years ago when he first started biking with a few dodgy little jumps on his parent’s property. “Here son, you can play in these trees”, was likely how it went down back then, but today the trees are mostly all gone and in their place, Simon and a few dedicated friends have built up a monster set of DJs. Good work!

It was really cool to see so much hard work go into something – these jumps are 100% hand dug!

Quick rider history - Simon Garstin rides for the Pinkbike / Devinci National team that started up this season under team manager Cam Hilts. He’s a 3 time BC provincial DH champ (2006, 2007 and 2008 ), 2 time National team member and is looking to put in a season on the World Cup Circuit this year. From the self sufficient hobby farm in the Comox Valley to the courses around the world, we wish him luck this season.

Ok enough about Simon, this is after all my little long weekend escape to ride trails. Once I had snapped pics, we loaded up the bikes and headed over to Mountain City Cycle (Simon’s long time shop sponsor and all around good group of guys) for what may be a record for slowest build up on a rider’s behalf since Trenton Zoobkoff built his own bikes last season – glad these guys are fast on two wheels as they won’t be making a living fixing them.

As fun as it was to watch and heckle Simon, I had to get out for a ride before the rain came . You can buy local trail maps from all the shops and they are some of the top riding maps I have ever seen, be sure to pick one up if you are planning on riding in the Comox Valley – proceeds go to the trail society.

I parked at the airstrip and began the long haul up (doesn't seem that long in a vehicle). I really like the views that you get at each logging area - despite the lack of trees, it is nice to see the surrounding land. A light rain caught me a few hundred yards from the trail head to Gecko, which I had ridden last fall with Simon Stevenson and Lee German. I used my map to navigate my way through the woods, so many great views and the weather ended up cooperating for the 2h 15min loop. I rode Gecko to Green Dome, into Black Dog to Transmission, then over Catnip and finally the Bear's Bait Trail back to the truck - whew!

Returned to MCC to watch Simon finish off his bike. Brent wanted to show off the Island Cup overall DH belt – I think he was challenging Simon.

Garstin and I headed to his place to grab our gear for a few shuttle laps. Thanks to MCC for lending me a medium Giant Reign SX for the evening of shuttles. Bigger thanks to Simon’s mom, who shuttled us for 3 laps of one of his training courses.

Giant Reign SX:

Ya there is a trail in there.
Ya there is a trail in there.

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The trail was a lot steeper than I am used to as of recent and the Reign was handling it a lot better then I was. Simon was getting used to the new bike a lot faster than I was adapting to the new style of riding. He rides WC DH courses and I have less than adequate DH skills on gnarly courses, but it sure was a lot of fun by the third lap, even if I had to dismount a few sections of trail.

It got dark on us, so it was back home time and time to check out today’s pics, talk bikes and plan more riding for Saturday.

Saturday’s Adventures-

I know at least three Simons and two live in the same town. We were waiting to hear from Mr.Stevenson at 10 to plan shuttles on some steep DH tracks just outside of town. Garstin is gathering the troops, cook kale to stay strong and I am chilling out.

Bike turned out really nice
Bike turned out really nice

The plan is to shuttle first and then XC it up in the afternoon in Cumberland. I got on the blower with Mr.Stevenson and tell him the plan. Now, this Simon knows me really well and my riding skills, he quickly dismisses my skill set and simply tells me that I won’t like the trail and that we should hit up something more to my liking. I trust his judgment and relay the message. Garstin is set on getting rad on the gnarly trail, so he says that he’ll meet us later in the day.

I headed into town to meet up with Simon S and Fiona. The new plan is to do a longer shuttle rip on Forbidden Plateau, rather than be scared trying to ride/walk Simon G's "Tougher Training Trail". Fiona had plans to run the dog and was more than gracious enough to offer up a shuttle to the top of the trail '2 Sheiks and a Dog'. We accept the ride and head up into the mist and fog. As we unload, we meet up with 2 other riders looking to do a rip – we offer them to join us and they do. Alex is a relocated local and Dana grew up on Hornby island, both are now in town and looking to ride more.

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We ride in to 2 Sheiks and a Dog, then down Cabin Fever DH. Simon shows us the fast lines on the rocks, while Dana does a great job keeping the pace on his 5 inch XC bike:

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Cabin Fever DH was so sick, but I was told that it was gonna get better as a new trail had recently been cut in and marked (soon to be on the next batch of maps) and it was called Slither. Ok I love to ride my bike and Slither reaffirmed this - this trail will blow your mind and I am happy that I got to it early as the conditions are prime.

The smiles tell the story!
The smiles tell the story!

Slither deposits you a few feet below the entrance to Transmission. Transmission is not a hard trail, but it's no slouch and I found that I usually get caught off guard the most on this trail. Keep your eyes looking ahead and your mouth smiling. Catnip is how I've always rolled out of Transmission and is where we ran into Martin and his group. At the end of Catnip is was time to say our farewells to Alex and Dana as they were headed towards Cumberland and we needed to go find my truck. Great ride #3 for the weekend and it was only just after noon on Saturday!

Transmission gets a thumbs up and a keep your eyes open!
Transmission gets a thumbs up and a keep your eyes open!

Post ride we returned to town, washed bikes and I headed to MCC to return the Demo Reign SX – thanks guys! Then it was back up to the house where our buddy and past Albertan, Lee German is waiting to join Simon S and I for a big ol' lap in Cumberland on the AM bikes.

I was feeling the hurt from the get go on this one. It is always fun to ride with Simon and Lee as Lee chirps (aka talks crap) the whole time and Simon kills it on the two wheeler. I initially was thinking short lap, but decided to get the whole Cumberland experience and said ok to hitting up Bucket of Blood. I would not do that climb mid summer as you are in the open the whole time, but damn was it ever worth it once we got to the top! I forgot my camera on this ride, but Simon had his cell phone along, so he hooked up the pics.

Bucket of Blood follows sections of the tree line and through cut blocks with flow and lots of little jumps and fun bits to keep you on your toes. Lee was wishing that he had an adjustable seat post and would let us all know each time he adjusted his seat - poor guy. From Bucket of Blood, we rode up an old service road to Tea Pot (holy hell, this is one sweet trail and was like riding on Hornby Island if Hornby was on Crack!). AM bike bliss, open it up, hard corners, fast sections - woo hoo!

Quick climb up Rail Road and then over to Crafty Butcher and Lower Crafty and then back to town where we started out ride. Thanks Lee and Simon for the great AM tour! The riding in Cumberland is top notch and I was already looking forward to Sunday's ride up in the woods above town. Ok so I was also super tired and wanting to eat really bad. Post ride burgers at our buddy Ross’ place in Cumberland, top 3 burger of all time – sick work Ross!

Sunday's Adventure -

It rained hard Saturday night, and it was wet everywhere I looked. Hmm to bail on a ride or suck it up? Simon G was volunteering up at Mount Washington today, so I headed off to meet up with Simon S and Fiona for another amazing Cumberland loop this morning.

Simon S and Fiona were keen on a longer loop over a short loop, so I sucked it up and we headed up into the rain above Cumberland. Fiona likes to rock these jeans and takes a lot of flack for them, but upon further inspection, they seemed to work for her and are stretchy – sorry for doubting you Fi. The rain and temps were both falling during the whole ride, but the dirt was in sweet shape. The rain was a little bit of a downer, but with correct gear on, I had a pretty enjoyable climb. I was wearing a new coat from the North Face - the Splatter Jacket, which is part of their new line up for us mountain bikers. Stoked to see more outerwear companies getting in and showing their support for our great sport.

We even stopped to create little drainage channels along the way up (ok I took pics while Simon and Fiona made them). The last few pitches up to Cup Cake were hike only, but the short walk was oh so worth it

Down Cup Cake, - two steep tech sections had me worried enough to dismount, but the rest of the trail was great. Simon was on it and rode everything at speed – he’s ready for race season. Next up was Baker’s Dozen and a nice little wall ride at the end.

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The local builders were out in full force on the Dodge City DH course, prepping it for an upcoming race in a few weeks time. The start gate got a full redo and the course was getting lots of attention to add flow and speed up top. The last time I rode this course was 2.5 years ago and I was testing the Cannondale Perp at that time – I got bucked off on the upper section, so I was on guard this time down. It’s gonna be a great race, so if you’re in the area on April 18th, you should tee it up for some great grass roots DH race action!

We ended the ride just like it started, in Cumberland in the rain!

I was wet, cold and ready for hot chocolate, and to simply hang out. Once I realized that I was gonna pass out from being so tired, I grabbed food to recharge and made my way south to Nanaimo to board the ferry back home. It is the necessary evil, but it works and I love riding on the island. Thanks to everyone that made this trip over so much fun!

If you want to stay up to date on any of our riding trips this year, both Mike and I have started ride log blogs in the XC and AM section of the forum here on Pinkbike.

My log blog is here and you can find Mike's tales here.

Just a heads up that there will be an Island Cup DH race in Cumberland on the 18th of April, will you be the one to challenge Brent this year?


  • + 11
 BC's great eh?
  • + 10
 yeah bc is a great place 4 biker's !!
  • + 6
 So true, we got the DJ's and the Mountains! Big Grin
  • + 1
 i know Smile
  • + 4
 sick article and pics tyler! looks like you had a great time on the island, comox valley looks fun. those dirt jumps were insane and the trails were so loamy, jeallllous.
  • + 2
 the caption for the top photo of saturdays adventures says: simon (garstin) is picking kelp, really though lets be honest the dude is picking Kale. and how solid he is with that decision, great source of iron and other valuable minerals Wink
  • + 1
 I'll take your word on that one, as I forgot what it was called. Tasted way better then spinach cooked.
  • + 4
 Hand man jumps? Props dude. That is too #@$%*ing insane. Amazing.
  • + 2
 Great article Tyler! Nice mix of pics and short videos... makes me want to take a trip to the island now and explore.
  • + 2
 shit... those first jumps... AMAZING!!
  • + 2
 your lucky in england we just have well nothing
  • + 1
 nah england ent lucky you have to be lucky to get to ride any good down hill here
  • + 2
 thats is really sweet great article
  • + 2
 great post and pictures Tyler.
  • + 1
 Nice step up...who made that!
  • + 1
 WOA!That's realllyy cool place to ride.Nice shoots~
  • + 1
 awesome read, and sweet photos
  • + 1
 that step up. step down combo feature is sooo perfect. pretty jealous
  • + 1
 I hate that I had to move away from there.
  • + 1
 man that guy still have dirt on his face :/
  • + 1
 Nice pics and that dj spot looks super awsome!
  • + 1
 no offense bit that devinci is humming, but the giant - ooof
  • + 2
 oohhhh yeah...
  • + 2
 RAD read Thanks.
  • + 1
 why do I live in Ontario?
  • + 1
  • + 1
  • + 0
 a bit much photos.but it looked fun!
  • + 1
 Sick championship belt!
  • + 1
 the best place !!!!
  • + 1

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