Vancouver Island: late summer, chill shredding with Diamondback’s Billy Lewis

Sep 30, 2010 at 15:42
by Adrienne Schofhauser  
What do you get when you mix the cool breeze drifting off the salt water bay, with the crisp alpine air of a mountain resort? Add a lift-accessed bike park perched above sprawling valley trails, and one hell of a bike beneath you.

Answer: A rad bike trip to an island of shred.

Read on,Late summer, Diamondback rider Billy Lewis and I decided to skirt the summer crowds in exchange for chill shredding on Mount Washington, out on Vancouver Island. After a few days in the bike park, we headed into the woods and explored the vast network of technical and super flowy valley trails. Beneath us were 2011 Diamondback Scapegoats - a great bike for ripping up both.

A ferry ride is the perfect transition from bustling life on the mainland to the serene atmosphere of Vancouver Island. Here provincial park land trumps the few towns patched along its eastern coastline.

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An hour up Hwy 19 gives way to a steep snaking mountain road that dumps you out at the foot of the alpine resort, yards from the lifts. It’s quiet here during the summer. A grassroots community blessed with a backyard lift-accessed mountain to call their own. Mid-week, lift lines are non-existent. For visitors it’s nearly personal lift-access to miles of freeride and downhill lines… Is anything more immediately stoke-inducing?

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One of Mount Washington’s greatest aspects is that it’s fun for all levels. Billy joined me and carved through freeride trails like Big Brother, Time Warp and MMT. We mixed in doses of technical brainchatter on Hustler and Hawk. Through it all the Scapegoats rocked. And rolled.

Billy cruised, jumping, dropping and wall-riding. Basically, ripping things up in a backdrop of elemental beauty. I charged in my own style, pushing myself when the section got techie and letting the reins loose when it flowed.

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Thanks to a hardworking trail crew, who stop their raking to let you pass, and low crowds, the trails are in good shape. The mountain has experienced some maturing, as the shop guys at Tread Shed will explain in a mini history lesson about each trail if you ask. But the newer Back in Black boasts a fun line of gaps, drops and a wall ride.

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Any apres mountain shred experience should be greeted with a cold draft and picturesque views. Fat Teddy’s bar was warm and welcoming. To top off our escape to this (nearby) hinterland, we stayed at the Deer Lodge where the park runs literally trickle down to your doorstep.

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Now, if you visit Vancouver Island and leave without exploring the extensive network of valley trails just south of the resort, you return with an undeniable, unexplainable void in your story. So we headed out to Cumberland to earn our turns.

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After making our homebase the Cumberland Lake Park Campground, on the shores of the Comox Lake, for the next several days (it’s 3 minutes from the trails), we made the requisite stop in town at Dodge City Cycles. They’ve got detailed trail maps for $4. The money goes to the elaborate trail building efforts of the local riding community. So buy a map; keep the trails alive. Behind the shop lies the Riding Fool Hostile, with soft beds and warms showers. We’d opted to camp.

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After a couple days of slashing through the bike park runs, the bikes didn’t require any serious maintenance before the valley trail rides - just a bit of chain lube and a little TLC cleaning. Stoking out the mini groms at the campground with stickers, well, that’s just good bike karma.

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A bit of climbing has a huge payoff on the Cumberland Valley trails. The scenery overlooking the bay reminds you why you push hard up a mountain - not for the cardio, but for the views, the soaking-it-all-in. It’s a ride amid a chorus of buzzing bees and cricket chirps. The tree canopy is relief from the late afternoon sun. We pedaled towards the clouds, in between the clear cut and forest groves.

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At the trail heads we slammed seats, pro pedals off, packs tightened down. We dropped in. The loam rises and falls, the berms and turns create a rhythmic pulse, the skinny logrides and bridges creak above the streams.

Downhill trails, like DCDH (a BC Cup stop), are steep and technical with rock gardens and massive manifesting roots. It’s pure Pacific Northwest trail riding. And it’ll get to your soul.

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Along the way, we met and swapped stories with many friendly locals. They’re always happy to oblige trail advice. Wednesdays are burgers and beer night at the Waverly Hotel in Cumberland.

After a week on the island we were worked, in a good way. Also, we’d learned that: from grassroots can grow an ultimate bike park; it’s outside the trees where life moves slow, and in them, where the journey flows fast.

And, that I was stoked that Billy had coaxed me into leaving my bike home for a 2011 Scapegoat. It made the experience seamless, and leaves my mind simmering in a fantasy mountain bike trip, though we’re back in reality.

A bit about the bike:
Regardless of the terrain the Scapegoat kills it. It’s spec’ed as a freeride bike, but it can climb. It’s got the Hammerschmidt. But also, the Knuckle Box has a four-bar linkage system, so the axel path is neutral - meaning no excessive chain growth during pedaling. Meaning - efficiency. Meaning - you’re stoked ‘cause you’re still trooping.

The bike’s lower center of gravity (via a low bottom bracket height) makes cornering, descending and jumping easier. And it can handle the high-speed bike park corners just as well as the tight singletrack’s rooty, off-camber sections. It’s like the bike has a multiple-personality disorder, Billy said.

The Scapegoat can handle flying down a dh course as well as it does the jumps and drops, according to Billy. He swore that at times he’d forget there was only 160 mm of travel under him (stock will be 180 mm). The stock X.0 shifters and derailleurs kept the bike shifting on the dime.

Regardless of the terrain, the Scapegoat’s feel is predictable as you go through the shock’s compression because the Knuckle Box suspension has a linear path of travel.

And because Diamondback has gone with larger hardware and bearings, not only are the bikes stiffer, but they require little maintenance.

Pretty. Awesome.

By Adrienne Schofhauser

Author Info:
MountainTracksMedia avatar

Member since Aug 4, 2010
3 articles

33 Comments
  • 3 0
 This article makes me realise a few things...one that I need another hot girl to ride with...two that I cant stand living back in flat England...three I need to live near a bike park again!
  • 6 1
 I am truly lucky to live on Vancouver Island. A Mecca......
  • 1 0
 Come to Wales, were right next door to you cazzamazz!!!
  • 1 1
 No everyone, come to Northern Maine, we have soooo many sick dh and freeride trails here i cant even keep track.
  • 3 0
 no come to the shore!!! 1 and a half hours to whistler!! and only like 6 hours to mt. washington
  • 1 1
 lucky bastard, the only thing we have to ride over here is stuff that we make or fckin steep sketchy hiking trails, every time i dide down it i feel like im going to die.
  • 1 0
 2 hours to mt washington live in victoria down island
  • 1 0
 Cazzamazz I've been living and riding the best of Colorado for last 8yrs and am debating whether to go back to Blighty. Help me make my mind up.
  • 1 1
 ridge come on man the park wasnt that bad
  • 1 0
 Dont come back! Stay over there! Yes Wales is great and Scotland is even better (not biased at all) but we have no bike parks...no great long DH/FR trails. Maine is definitely an untapped resource for riding! Did the hiking trails up that way and they were begging to be shredded up.
  • 1 0
 Adrienne, it looks like you are running flats. That's great.

It also looks like you are wearing running shoes. That's bad. They offer no protection and they don't grip as well as the industry standard - 5.10 Impacts (but then again, nothing does).

Do yourself a favor - gets some 5.10s, for your own safety.

BTW - nice review of everything. Bike, location, trails, peripherals. Ta.
  • 1 0
 Hi Iama, funny you mention that because I'd planned on making ride shoes my next purchase. Mine aren't bad; they're stiffer and thicker than they look. But definitely good call getting proper kicks.

5.10s, sure. What about those new gripy Vans?
  • 1 0
 I think the 5.10s are superior and I will put my money where my mouth is:

If you buy a pair of 5.10 Impacts (only) and you honestly don't like them, find a set of Vans on the internet and I'll pay for them via PayPal and make the shipping address your address. All you have to do is send the used 5.10s to a friend of mine in The States. I'm sure they'll fit someone's wife or girlfriend.
  • 4 0
 come to bc.... we have everything
  • 8 1
 Except sun. LOL.
  • 1 1
 how come this is sooo true. HAHA
  • 1 1
 ^
^
soooo true
  • 1 0
 i"ll be there in 2 years. I don't need the sun. I need guys like you to show me the illness.. i'll bring the party favors
  • 2 0
 Great write-up and it looks like you kids had an awesome time! Keep them young'uns stoked, Billy!!!
  • 2 0
 Billy lewis is a really awesome guy. Super sick to see him shredding.
  • 1 0
 that little kid with the mongoose(?) will be a downhiller when he grows up
  • 1 0
 Great article. Looks like you had alot of fun. I really need to get back up to the PNW sometime.
  • 1 0
 "only 160 mm of travel under him (stock will be 180 mm)" -- I think you meant fork not 'stock'?
  • 1 0
 vancouver island is the shit. i spend every summer there and wouldnt trade it for anything
  • 1 0
 Next time make your way to Campbell River. there is a new trail system out our way. Its massive.
  • 1 0
 Gotta love the island. If its not The work that brings you here, its definitely the scenery...
  • 1 0
 Llangdon Auger ISLAND NIGHTS solid song- look it up
  • 1 0
 Pretty dope, would like to test a 180mm one,
  • 1 0
 VI-4-life...born & raised!
  • 1 0
 Done and done.
  • 1 0
 coastal livin baby
  • 1 0
 SaaaWeeeet!
  • 8 0
 this makes me want to ride mountain bikes!!!! Smile







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