Video & Photo Story: The Outlaw Sport - The Legalization of the North Shore's Trails with Geoff Gulevich & the NSMBA

Sep 13, 2021
by Orbea  

The history and legacy of trail building in Vancouver’s North Shore mountains is incredible, few places on earth have had as much impact on the mountain biking community as this Canadian mecca. With its perfect dirt and dense trees - the trails were built with whatever they could find lying around the woods.

Originally, the North Shore district was against mountain biking for years. Mountain bikers were seen as adrenaline junkies tearing up the forest. It took until 1997 for these trails and cycling to be recognized as a valid user group who have the best interest in the land.

With the North Shore Mountain Bike Association working together alongside land management teams and local government officials, a symbiotic relationship between mountain bikers and land has evolved to be one of the most impressive networks of trails in the world.

With the help of the entire community of builders, riders and government the hopes are to have these trails around for future generations to enjoy.

bigquotesMy hope is that I made some fun trails and brought smiles to people’s faces. That’s what I want my legacy to be like.Todd “Digger” Fiander, trail builder






NSMBA trail builder Penny Deck on Mount Seymour 2021.


NSMBA trail builder Penny Deck on Mount Seymour 2021.

Todd the Digger Fiander on Mount Fromme in North Vancouver British Columbia Canada

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.


NSMBA trail builder Penny Deck on Mount Seymour 2021.

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.


Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.


Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.

NSMBA trail builder Penny Deck on Mount Seymour 2021.


Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.


NSMBA trail builder Penny Deck on Mount Seymour 2021.

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.

NSMBA trail builder Penny Deck on Mount Seymour 2021.

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.


Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.

NSMBA trail builder Penny Deck on Mount Seymour 2021.


Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.

NSMBA trail builder Penny Deck on Mount Seymour 2021.

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.

NSMBA trail builder Penny Deck on Mount Seymour 2021.

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.

NSMBA trail builder Penny Deck on Mount Seymour 2021.

Geoff Gulevich on Vancouver s North Shore June 2021.



MENTIONS: @orbea / @raceface / @foxfactory / @shimano / @Maxxis





111 Comments

  • 164 1
 Thanks Digger
  • 31 1
 Digger for prime minister!
  • 41 0
 "My hope is that I made some fun trails and brought smiles to people’s faces. That’s what I want my legacy to be like."
—Todd “Digger” Fiander, trail builder

You sure did!
  • 8 0
 Riding his work on the Shore was a lifelong MTB goal and the experience surpassed all possible expectations. Good karma forever to the legend that is Digger. The most influential individual trail builder in the sport, ever.
  • 6 0
 Bumped into Todd on the weekend. He spent 5 minutes coaching my very tentative wife on a how to ride a rock roll he was working on. She sailed right over it with no difficulty, while I took a bad line and barely made it over. Digger is the man!
  • 1 1
 Nice!

Is Frog Lady still around? This should brighten her day.
  • 1 0
 @PocoBoho: I think she crawled under a rock
  • 54 0
 Props to Orbea for supporting this project showcasing the work put in to make these trails happen. Beautiful work by Scott Secco behind the camera
  • 17 0
 And amazing photos from Sterling!
  • 1 42
flag holdandhope (Sep 13, 2021 at 23:41) (Below Threshold)
 Shame they have geoff in it , isn't he a well know dry guy ?
  • 2 32
flag mongoosep (Sep 14, 2021 at 1:24) (Below Threshold)
 spanish company buying mtb karma points...
  • 5 0
 Came here to say the same. Hope to get there one day and ride these legendary trails.
  • 15 1
 And props to @geoffgulevich for putting his name behind this initiative. I love how involved he is in his local bike community. Having a media personality with as much credibility as he does really helps highlight the legitimacy of these volunteer organizations, and helps the cycling and non-cycling communities who might just look at YouTube/PinkBike/etc. understand the amount of work that goes into trails, from concept through construction, and long term maintenance.
  • 2 0
 @Woody25: Hopefully man. It's absolutely worth the trip if you ever get the opportunity.
  • 27 0
 The Sedona community was just as much, if not more, against the mtb community. Funny how money (tourist tax revenue) eventually talks loud enough for local government to finally pay attention to something.
  • 8 0
 Sedona blows my mind. They've done so much to bring mountain biking above board.
  • 28 1
 Thanks Penny!
  • 15 0
 +1 shoutout Penny. I think she's lead every trail day I've participated in, although it's been a couple years. And thanks Martin. The Penny Lane + Good Sir Martin climb is one of the biggest improvements to the North Shore trail network.
  • 20 5
 One thing this film doesn't go into much detail about is that the original stunts were nuts. A lot of the early ones were built with filming in mind so were really quite dangerous and particularly awful in the wet. The District of North Van (one of three municipalities on the north shore) really must have felt obliged to take many of them down as people were getting seriously hurt. There are still injuries but not because of obviously ridiculous trail construction. They also had to slow down the proliferation of trails to some extent and get people to concentrate on maintaining the exiting trails, which were rapidly eroding in many cases, and the DNV/NSMBA partnership in this area has been a true success story. The early stunts also decayed fast and many of the ruined stunts you see now had to be deactivated because they rotting to pieces or getting very close to collapse. The ruins are picturesque now though. There is still a bit of a story to be told of how stunts got invented as the idea of building a ladder bridge for its own sake, as opposed to putting boards on a handy log over a gulley, certainly appeared in the 90's not the 80's. I think this is a fascinating matter, as any impactful invention is non-obvious, and I think I know who deserves credit, but I'm not sure people want to look to closely into that history. Best to let sleeping jank lie.....
  • 28 8
 "A lot of the early ones were built with filming in mind..." . That is not remotely true
  • 9 2
 @leelau: It occurs to me Lee that you were very much there at the time and you would be ideally placed to write the detailed history of north shore stunts. I genuinely think this would be a cool project, though it might be hard to come up with good photos of the actual stunts. Inventing such things such that they become a world wide phenomenon is not a trivial matter, so worthy of a proper history.
But about the filming, would you not agree that on the way world wide fame, there was a period in the mid to late 90's, perhaps reaching an apotheosis with Flying Circus, of stunt inflation, which was at least in part driven by film making considerations. It was certainly the case that at the time there was some controversy about who got to ride all those features first.
  • 10 1
 @The-Foiling-Optimist: they built those stunts for themselves. To push their boundaries and make it fun
  • 22 0
 @The-Foiling-Optimist: Seems to me the big stunts were built for riding first, then builders started realizing the potential to capitalize on them (NSX series, FlowShow, etc). To say some were not built for movies doesn’t seem accurate, the main one coming to mind the massive gulley gap that Wade broke his leg on. That was very much a movie line, whereas Brutus gap was for fun. From my understanding, Flying Circus was built not only to push Dan’s limits but also to get him through a difficult time in life. Trailbuilding and woods therapy certainly works for that. GMG wasn’t built for movies, it was built to push creativity and rider limits. Jerry Rig, Wink, etc, all built to ride. The stunts came first, then the filming. They weren’t awful in the wet, they were challenging. Riding the North Shore in the wet, at it’s rawest form, is absolutely thrilling!
  • 9 0
 @bradwalton: is correct
  • 2 0
 @bradwalton: Except when amazingly great riders like Kona's Graham Kurbis got spinal cord injuries. Which was on a relatively innocuous part of Pink Starfish but it was cold and wet.
  • 7 0
 @The-Foiling-Optimist: riders have died just riding along also, hard to blame the trail. We have memorials on Galbraith as such. Sh*t happens. Mountain biking may be the new golf, but it’s still inherently dangerous.
  • 4 0
 @The-Foiling-Optimist: There is a photo archive with tons of old shots of all the stunts on existing and closed trails. I think there was a link on nsmb.com but I cannot find it anymore. *edit - found it: thetrail.net/trailHTML/staticHTML/mtFromme/index.html
  • 5 0
 Its already been done..... Ladder Bridges, its exactly what you are looking for.

Sorry to take 50 minutes of your time away from work! This is worth the watch.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mB_gOzG7Oc
  • 1 0
 @scotty2: that's really good stuff
  • 6 0
 @The-Foiling-Optimist: @bradwalton

Not going to write a Shore History. I'm a latecomer and Seb Kemp already has a fine attempt.

For the record.

- the vast majority of the stunts/woodwork/trails existed before media. The most notorious stuff was built in the early to late 90s before Bike Mags seminal article.

- Per capita bikers were way way down the scale of injuries or even fatalities so I really don't know where you're going with this. Source was NS SAR stats from an old NS News article. Bikers were far below hikers, mushroom pickers etc. .Tim Jones (RIP) said we bikers would almost rather "crawl out on their lips" then get rescued. Graham and a rider from OR and a local passed from injuries while biking in the decade of the 90s to 2000s. Three people that I remember in that decade. Not many relative to the participants.

- Stunts got chainsawed in North Van mostly due to complaints. West Van's chainsaw massacre was due to liability concerns (the rescue from Reaper). NV was concerned about liability for sure but mostly the negatives were from stunt trails built lower on the mountain where hikers and kids could access easier (Stump Drop, Canyon Gap, Swollen Uvula, Whatchamacallit). NV didn't care about higher stuff ( GMG, Circus, A Shitload of Nails).

I know because I was the one who had to interface, communicate and CYA with West Van and North Van
  • 2 0
 @leelau: you hardly classify as a late comer! Thanks for the info. My trip to the Shore in 2001 changed my life! When in doubt, the answer is almost always: bikes
  • 1 0
 @scotty2: That was awesome thanks. A lot of old school footage I hadn't seen before. it's so cool wandering around on the shore and seeing the remnants of what these guys built. True visionaries.
  • 3 0
 @leelau: Annual Fire rescue stats are >80% hikers/runners, ~15% mountain bikers. Personal correspondence and conversations suggest the mountain bike extractions are generally more complicated and difficult, although significantly less numerous. As you'd expect, really.
  • 2 0
 @cooperquinn-wy: Speaking to NS SAR the numbers have held about the same so that's not a huge surprise. There aren't firm numbers on user groups accessing trails so it's hard (impossible) to adjust for mode of recreation
  • 1 0
 @leelau: if anyone saw diggers first helmet cam they wouldn’t think the stunts were for filming. Google up some 90’s movie cameras for a good laugh.
  • 18 4
 was this just an orbea ebike commercial disguised with a bit of human interest story?
  • 4 3
 Welcome to the mountain bike world post 2018
  • 2 0
 I was looking for this comment before I chose to write it and I'm so glad you said it.
  • 36 25
 the outlaw sport is skateboarding. mountain dentists wearing $1k of waterproof outdoorswear in one of the most prohibitively expensive regions of the north american continent are not "outlaws."
  • 29 21
 Don't forget ebikes. They're not even mountainbikers.
  • 12 12
 It used to be back in the day but the mtb industry have priced them out and now mtbs are in with paddling boarding, golf, skiing and all the other nice wholesome goodie two shoes sports. There’s still the wrong un’s out there riding where they want but these days mtb is mainly done by dweebs in party shirts on 9k mountain bikes.
  • 16 1
 @thenotoriousmic: I agree with the premise that mountain biking is becoming less raw than it used to be. Trail design and bike technology has removed barriers to entry and made the sport more accessible and forgiving. That said when was the last time someone broke their back on a golf course? MTB is still no joke, and granted their are people out on the trails today that wouldn't hack it on the shit we rode 20-25 years ago; however, for the love of god don't lump us in with golfers.
  • 4 2
 Ha! I also got a chuckle out of that line. Although damn fun, mtb is a sport of the privileged. Not quite at wakeboard level, though.
  • 18 7
 @Rodeodave: you realize Digger rides an ebike right? Because of his knees. Is digger not a mountain biker? Do the whole community a favor and shut the fk up
  • 8 0
 Oh for craps sake I get tired of the expense argument. Its no different then someone spending every penny they make to build up their street race car or someone having some dressed to the nines sport bike they live on. A sport like mtb does often lead to someone spending most all of the income they can on toys yes but no one is forcing them too and thats how you know they truly love it.
  • 9 7
 @RideThicccBC: Yes. Physically challenged is the acceptable use of assisted Mountain biking/eBike. And tone it down a bit, champ.
  • 2 4
 @jaytdubs: like I said there’s still real ones out there but on a whole it’s a middle aged, middle class sport. It will come back around again. They’ve priced out the kids, if you see a underage mountain biker these days it’s only because their parents are into mountain biking. Kids aren’t picking up mountain bikes out of choice so in a few years when everyone’s moved onto the next middle aged fad they’ll have no one to sell cheap overpriced Chinese carbon to and they’ll have to bring the prices down again and it will be back to being a counter culture youth sport.
  • 2 0
 @thenotoriousmic: Maybe. But around here there's a crapload of young riders, both boys and girls.
Anecdotally I've heard that XC race teams at the JHigh and High School level are stuffed with kids.
Just spent $500 signing up and fitting out my 10 year old for Lacrosse (which I never played). Cheaper than a bike for now but there's costs to every season. Kids on bikes are universal (or were, not as much now its true) and that seems like a more organic feeder than the stick and ball sports and let's not even mention any kind of motorsport. There's always used and hand me down bikes for kids, I worry most about the young adults with a new job affording a bike ha ha. Don't disagree bike prices have gotten a bit aspirational.
  • 1 3
 @RideThicccBC: well said
  • 8 1
 Sounds like the Bay Area/Santa Cruz too. Local agencies complain that dealing with injured riders in rugged locale's is too much... They don't mind collecting tax money from Hotels, Restaurants, and nighttime entertainment from hundreds of people who come to town each weekend from far and wide to ride.
  • 11 0
 This is great. Proud to call the shore home.
  • 3 0
 Thanks for all your hard work Rob!
  • 6 0
 I’ve been really lucky to have visited a few places round the world to ride bikes, nothing compares with the north shore, the trails, the location, the people all make it a bucket list place. my first visit to Fromme I saw Digger drive past up the fire road, as he passed the bikers they all just stopped let him pass and saluted him. It was cool as f*ck.
  • 8 1
 f yeah penny! shout out to pat poldolski who spent much time building and volunteering his time on the shore trails everyone rides as well.
  • 5 0
 we also must not forget the cedar trees; with their unique architecture and composition, they make exceptional material for trail building. Any "woodwork" made from anything that is not cedar, rots away in a year.
  • 4 0
 Please don't post these super inspirational North Shore videos. I have a bad habit of watching them in the am and all day at work my mind wants to go out and ride. Thanks for all your work!.
  • 26 21
 I really want to know why an eBike was necessary for this showcase...
  • 34 17
 Because lots of the people who do trail maintenance ride ebikes? Also, who cares?
  • 34 21
 @thatguyzack: If the E bike was shown being used for trail maintenance, I would have no issue with it. Well, I care, and I'm sure I'm not alone. The video is about the roots of mountain biking, and the bike they choose to showcase is a motorcycle.
  • 16 5
 @DGWW: which ironically would have definitely made it a hell of a lot harder to gain trail access
  • 3 0
 @pen9-wy: Exactly. There is zero need for Gully to be on an ebike in this video aside from sales. And no amount of emotional posting about Todd's knees will change the fact that if he and the other original builders had been on ebikes back then, they would have legalized shit. They'd have got kicked off the mountain and the negotiating table forever with no discussion the second someone saw a motor on their bikes.
  • 5 0
 the days of non pov shore footage was the golden age of mtb
  • 1 0
 Where I live in Wollongong Australia there is a large network of trails built over the last 20 years that are still illegal. Members of the community are actively working lobby the Council to remove trails and the Council have tried to destroy trails in the last 6 months. We have the same issues that North Van has (First Nation heritage, high value flora and fauna etc) and I hope that we can follow the North Shore model and not just legalize the trail network but make it part of the community. Hopefully we are only 25 years behind!
  • 2 1
 Astonishing that councils are so backward. Those that are against it should be sent to popular mtn biking areas and told to suggest to those councils that they should remove the trails and see what reaction they get.
  • 2 0
 Seeing all these wooden features makes me wonder... What's the consensus on when a wooden feature becomes a skinny? I'd say anything narrower than 12 inches but curious what people think.
  • 1 0
 Wow, what a fantastic piece! Makes me want to move back home to Canada. MTBing has come such a long way since my day back in the 80's and 90's. Can't wait to go back there and ride again. By the way, you Northshore kids are known as the baddest mountain bike MF'ers on the planet down here in Australia...YEWWWWWWWWW!! #diggerforprimeminster
  • 3 0
 All of that wet wood gives me Vietnam flashbacks. I slipped and crashed just watching this video.
  • 2 0
 Genuinely no better place in the world. You can rave about Whistler, you can rave about riding in the U.S. Rockies or riding the alps in Europe. There's no better place.
  • 1 0
 Just putting this out there.... A great continuance for this article. Its a video from 2006 documenting the rise (and fall) and rise of the North Shore.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=8mB_gOzG7Oc
  • 2 0
 Always blows my mind that these types of videos are free to watch. Should be in a film festival at the very least! Amazing work by Secco & team as per usual!
  • 2 0
 The disappointment I feel when I'm enjoying a video or story and eventually see the battery pack on the bike is slightly irrational, but I can't help it.
  • 4 1
 Thanks to the local legends of gravity!!
  • 22 20
 Funny how the intro refers to the mountain bike community, and then they show a guy on an ebike.
  • 25 17
 Which is also a mountain bike. Not sure how you can hate on these guys who've spent their entire adult lives creating and maintaining one of the best trail systems around.
  • 4 3
 utilit'E'bike........ gets a pass
  • 8 16
flag Bustacrimes (Sep 14, 2021 at 3:57) (Below Threshold)
 @thatguyzack: because hes a new school mtb entitled twat. His badge of honour isnt building trails, it being the gatekeeper to what is real MTB through eBike hate. Its to be expected from 12 year olds.
  • 4 4
 Awesome. UK should learn that the next generation of people they will want to care for the land are not in to horses (stupid pet for the rich) or bird watching. #legalisethewoodlands
  • 2 0
 Beautiful film, Scott! The storyline was great, but the composition and color in each shot was incredible
  • 1 1
 Yes the " Out law " trails are still the most fun. What a terrible crime . Building trails for entertainment , inspiration, challenge.
What we need is more legal asphalt and shopping malls.
  • 2 0
 Great 6 min shredit intro. Much better then dudes with mullets making coffee and getting in their Tacoma
  • 1 0
 Nice stuff, gorgeous images, throwback land.... Digger rules, On Top, The Cove, et al...ah them memories! UpLo was cool then...'82 Sandringham!
  • 2 0
 so inspiring & as epic as it gets
  • 1 1
 I'm my area they said are biking trails are for hiking they would have never been built if it wasn't for bikers so why is it a hiking trail I don't understand people thinking
  • 1 0
 Ah man, these videos kill me! Left the shore 6 years ago and still miss it everyday :-( keep them coming though.
  • 3 4
 All u e haters.,.u.ll all be older n hurt or enlightened some day...then you'll be hating on the acoustic bikes...don't b..TCH on stuff u never done....MPS
  • 2 0
 Learn to spell dude, I had to read that twice to understand it. Oh, and I am old - 45 and still ripping on a regular bike, no ebike in sight for me!!
  • 1 0
 @Freemij: when did 45 become old.
  • 2 0
 enjoyed that,
  • 1 0
 @edwardbear I showed a visitor from MT Leppard today
  • 2 0
 @leelau: One day I will need to come down to shore for a tour.
  • 1 0
 @edwardbear: it would be my honour to show you what we've done
  • 2 0
 So good
  • 2 2
 Oh cool, looks like thats the new Occam which launches... Tomorrow?
  • 30 10
 Never mind, that's an ebike lol. Que disappointment.
  • 1 0
 Wow! Amazing photos!
  • 1 0
 [delete]
  • 1 0
 *everybody liked that*
  • 1 0
 Great Shots Sterling!
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