Photo Story: Exploring Classic Trails on the Sunshine Coast

Feb 13, 2022 at 17:35
by RAAW Mountain Bikes  


Squamish tends to offer very mild winters with plenty of riding. But December brought us tons of snow and storm warnings with temperatures hitting the -20°C mark.

The arctic weather has now left, but the snow isn't going anywhere soon.

The Sunshine Coast, a 40-minute ferry-trip away from Vancouver, also saw snowy conditions over Christmas, but to a lesser extent, and now slowly wakes up from the short winter break. A trip from Squamish to Robert Creek is our plan for the day.


A short drive along the Sea-to-sky Highway to Horseshoe Bay leads us to the ferry. It's a beautiful day and only when we get out of the car do we realise it’s still January. Ferries to Vancouver Island, Bowen Island and the Sunshine Coast leave here and in summer it’s wise to reserve your spot. But not today. A couple more bikes sighted on trucks and bike racks show us that we’re on the right path towards riding though.




The ferry trip alone is well worth the early start. There is something very peaceful about the low hanging clouds moving over the shore and all the islands appearing while we get closer to Langdale. It’s cold and a bit windy, but the sun and the clouds make for a beautiful start to our trip.





If places had a heartbeat, the Sunshine Coast would be chillin’ at 45 bpm.

We drive on the only major road along the coast, through Gibsons, and make our way to Roberts Creek.

The winding road, dense forest and slow pace of the traffic make us really enjoy the moment. There is something about the vibe on the coast that just grabs me. It silences the thoughts usually running through my head, the troubles and challenges of daily life and makes me feel in harmony with the there and now.



RAAW Mountain Bikes - Coastal Vibes



Roberts Creek has a small little center to it, with shops and restaurants right next to the ocean, where we park our car to get some food at the Gumboot Cafe. The delicious lentil patty with avocado and a creative mix of greens should provide some lasting energy for our day in the woods.




Just as we want to head to the trails, we spot a small store hidden behind the cafe that catches our attention. The Melomania store turns out to be a little hidden gem on the Sunshine Coast, with drums, guitars and vinyl!

I do have a weak spot for vinyl and believe nothing will ever replace the ritual of listening to a pressed copy of music. No matter how on-demand your Spotify playlist can be activated with Alexa, there would be a big void for me without vinyl. So I dive into the boxes with used 70’s and 80’s records and stumble across a Supertramp album from 1977 that reminds me of my childhood, with my Dad playing those songs. Taking it home and having it as a memory of this trip is another thing a digital copy can’t replace.

We end up chatting with Paul the store owner for a while and discover we happen to share a passion for bikes. His stories of the Cranked videos from back in the day and trials sections with Ryan Leech filmed in Roberts Creek make us aware how long mountain biking has been around in this place.









So far the day was well-spent, but no bikes were involved yet. We drive up a fire road for a few kilometers from Roberts Creek, unload the bikes and get changed.



First up is a little pedal towards a trail named Twisted Sista’s and the conditions in the woods appear to be prime. While the mist is still hanging in the lower part of the woods, we can also see the sun peek out as we get a bit higher. Twisted Sista’s turns out to be a great trail to start with, nothing too crazy, but a good flow and perfect soil.

We soon bump into relics from back in the day, in the process of slowly being taken back by nature. It feels like a little museum of mountain biking history. The wooden constructions were once ridden by pioneering riders who were responsible for the foundations of mountain biking. It’s just so cool to look at these relics and think about what they were up to back in the day. No 29ers, no dropper posts, no modern geos, but probably loads of suspension travel and skills to make up for a lack in any of the technical advancements that are now the norm.



RAAW Mountain Bikes - Coastal Vibes








From the exit of Twister we start pedaling up to a Roberts Creek classic, Mach Chicken. Next to the start of the trail is a picture-perfect campfire spot that works well for a little break with an ocean view through the trees.


Mach Chicken starts with a wooden ramp that feels like a start gate and the trail instantly delivers. It’s fast!






RAAW Mountain Bikes - Coastal Vibes


With speedy turns and little gaps, the trail works its way through the forest and leaves no options for looking far ahead. Riding it for the first time or following someone can be a bit scary at first, but the combination of corners works very well and gives you the confidence to trust what’s coming and let off the brakes as much as possible.

After the first section of fast and tight corners, Mach Chicken becomes a bit more natural with more roots, loose soil and open corners. We inadvertently turn back onto Twister, which leads us back to Twister Sista’s, where we started our ride.

The mountains of Vancouver Island keep showing themselves through the forest making the views and atmosphere fantastic. I had ridden this place years back in summer when everything was bone dry and dusty, but I think I prefer this. The green forest is so dense, moist and well, green. It’s simply breathtaking.









Next up is a trail we walk up first, as it’s marked double black on Trailforks and promises jumps, drops and other features. Good to look before you leap.

We ride Hand Solo, followed by Jumps. Except for some massive dirt jumps at the end of the trail, everything turns out to be somewhat manageable and good fun with the little Jibb!







And that’s a wrap! Not bad for a ride in January with most of BC covered in a thick layer of snow.

Before we take the ferry back, we go for a little detour through Gibsons and grab some food at Tapworks, one of the local breweries that aptly finishes off the Sunshine Coast vibe that I have fallen in love with. Good food, vinyl, amazing riding, friendly people and beers. What more could you wish for?



RAAW Mountain Bikes - Coastal Vibes



Photos by Rob Perry.

RAAW Mountain Bikes.


46 Comments

  • 75 0
 This is the content I want to see on PB. Nice work!
  • 1 2
 Alot of good Photo epics like this on BETA I have recently found. Now you dont even have to feel bad about going to another website.
  • 14 0
 Nice to see pictures that I can actually scroll and check out vs having to watch a video on mute I don't have time for anyway.
  • 17 3
 Sunshine Coast is overrated. Try somewhere else…
  • 3 0
 True, was there 2013 and 2016 and would never go back there ;-)
  • 8 1
 Mach Chicken and Twisted Sista’s make a nice end to trails that start higher and further west on the mountain, namely JRX and Precious. Harder to find but definitely worth the effort. Great trails all.
  • 8 0
 Their photographer must have been busy! Looks like a beautiful spot to ride though.
  • 3 0
 Great article!

As a former “Creeker”, this pictorial diary brought back a lot of sweet memories. Mach Chicken being one of my favs, and I still manage to hit CGP a couple times a year with my little dude.

Glad to see the authors/photographers supporting the local business in the Creek and Gibsons. Paul is just an amazing person, as are all of the residents of the Coast (loved the heartbeat analogy, bang on!).

More content like this please! CHEERS
  • 4 0
 Loved that, would love to road trip the area one day. From Rod Stewart to Sham 69, one extreme to the other. LOL! Liking the RAAW bikes as well. What's not to like Ay!
  • 2 0
 I used to go to Roberts Creek a lot back in the day. The trails were amazing with a cool trail network and a with the fire road up the middle meant you could shuttle until your hearts content. I hadn't been for probably 8 years and went back last year. I have to say the trails I knew and loved had really gone downhill. Particularly a lot of the wood work. Im not sure who used to maintain them but it sadly seemed like there wasn't the same love and attention put into them like back in the day? Pretty sad really as it just wasn't the same.
  • 4 1
 Show me a trail anywhere in the world that hasn't changed in 8 years... I'll wait
  • 1 0
 @CheddarJack46: I'm talking run down... Not just changed. To the point that a lot of the trails were almost not rideable anymore. I don't know of any local trail association in Roberts Creek? So it was just a bit sad that they used to be meticulously maintained. But have been left to deteriorate so much.
  • 3 0
 Can someone who knows trees explain what's going on with the twisted/spiraled old stump? I've seen that before down in Oregon and it's a mystery to me.
  • 7 0
 It's from watching all the bikes go by!
  • 1 0
 Yes! Wind resistance and equal water/nutrient distribution are two hypotheses. We've got some monsters up here in BC too and it always perplexed me too! You can google it to find out more too. It's pretty neat though eh?
  • 1 0
 Ahhh thank you for asking this question, and thanks to @dlford for answering it. Seen it so many times and always wondered the cause.
  • 1 0
 Love the photo's the bikes and the vibe! This takes me back to the old Canadian television series, that aired in Australia back in the 70's and early 80's — The Beachcombers! A new series with mountain bikes. I wonder what bike Relic would ride?
  • 1 0
 If you didn’t already know, that’s a good shout since Molly’s Reach from the Beachcombers is in Gibson’s Landing, just up the road from these trails!
  • 1 0
 great place. are the first few comments sarcasm? kind of like locals telling you how good it is elsewhere? articles like this create tourism, we've been spoiled for 2 years in BC with no crowds, in a few years all the sea to sky locals will be missing the ol' "lockdown". thanks to writer rob and his partner for sharing a soulful trip. I havent been there in 12 years, and I look forward to my triumphant return.
  • 1 0
 No, it’s not really the best place to ride. But not the worst. Probably better to go ride the whistler bike park if you want the best
  • 2 0
 Nice article. Doesn’t get any better than beautiful mountains, towns, vinyl, a hidden Paul Reed Smith, wheelies and drops! With what looks to be some good food too. Wish I wasn’t living in the flatland.
  • 4 0
 Glad you two made the move! Let's get on a boat together soon.
  • 3 0
 Should have bought the Sham 69 single - classic
  • 3 0
 Just what I needed with my third cup of coffee today. Good stuff
  • 4 0
 I love photo stories.
  • 2 0
 Love the place. So much good riding.. Coast Gravity Park shouldn't be overlooked either for some sh*t hot big air.
  • 3 1
 Nice pics. Coast is overrated and those ferry waits...ugh
  • 2 0
 Shit yeh, Nice photos Rob!
  • 1 0
 Cheers Deano!
  • 2 0
 Perfect article, thanks RAAW and PH, excited to be alive again!
  • 1 0
 simply red " moneys too tight to mention " my wife sings this when i tell her i need a new bike ..
  • 3 0
 MORE OF THESE PLEASE.
  • 1 0
 Is that little decal on the top-tube the "RAAW Dogg?"
  • 2 0
 Beautiful!
  • 1 0
 Those PRS fret boards are so fly!
  • 2 0
 Great content
  • 1 0
 Love this series. More please.
  • 1 0
 Cool story, great pics. Fix that windshield!
  • 2 3
 I just bought two houses not far from there. Going to AirBnB them, advertise them as a mecca for mtb'ers. Cant wait! Sunshine CashCow!
  • 2 0
 Yes, Please! Moar!!
  • 2 0
 super fucking dope
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