Rule of Thirds 1/3 - Welcome to the Fraser Valley

Jul 17, 2013 at 12:28
by Reuben Krabbe  
Words: Joe Schwartz
Photos: Reuben Krabbe


bigquotesOdd people doing strange things

...is how Dan Stefanson, Executive Director for Tourism Abbotsford, jokingly describes some of the people that approach him with ideas for boosting tourism in the region. Our eclectic group - Stephen Matthews, Sarah Leishman, Wade Simmons, photographer Reuben Krabbe, and myself - certainly has an odd element to it, and we are doing, in many “normal” people’s eyes, a strange thing.

A road trip to camp and ride bikes as fast and as far as we can on new trails in the Fraser Valley? We wouldn’t have it any other way.

Joe Schwartz Sarah Leishman Stephen Matthews and Wade Simmons resting atop Mt Thuston
  Joe, Sarah, Stephen, Wade

Sumas Mountain foliage
Wade Simmons riding with style and confidence on a greasy day on sumas
  Wade, Sumas

Friends Gather Here
  Friends - Gather - Here

We did not have to travel very far to get to our Fraser Valley destination. We are all pretty content/stuck in our own little bubbles of the North Shore and Whistler, feeling like it requires a plane ride to really travel to a new area. We were all brought back to reality on this adventure though. Sometimes just beyond your backyard is a whole new perspective, in our case it's just an afternoon drive.

Driving through quaint backroads of the Fraser River Valley
Sarah Leishman and Joe Schwartz drop from the peak of Mt Thurston
  Sarah, Stephen

Sarah Leishman and Joe schwartz hold ridge line across the elk thurston trail
fraser valley viewed from Elk Mountain

We are midway through a tasty dinner at the Lakeside Beach Club in Cultus Lake that Dan and his colleague Allison have joined us for. We keenly listen as the two tourism advocates share their vision for the area, and we add our two cents when we can. It’s nice to hear the positivity in their voices when talking about the potential for mountain bike tourism growth. We wholeheartedly agree, in between scarfing down chicken wings and pitchers of beer.

cultis lake s Lakeside beach club. good beer good food
Joe Schwartz surveys the Fraser River Valley
  The Writer, Joe Schwartz

The Fraser Valley marks the end of the 1375 kilometer journey of the mighty Fraser River. The “Valley”, as it is known in local parlance, is a series of wide floodplains containing some of the richest agricultural land in BC. The Valley eventually gives way to the bustling metropolis of Vancouver, and there the Fraser River empties out into the Pacific Ocean.

Cultis Lake and the Fraser River Valley from Elk Mountain

Traveling in the Fraser Valley, ones eyes are drawn not to the flat farm fields, but the forested walls bordering the expanse, and beyond these, glimpses of alpine peaks stretching into the distance. We have come here to explore the fringes of the Valley, the pockets of mountain bike trails that dot the length of this stretch of the Trans Canada highway. While it takes a bit of driving to check out each zone, we are consistently rewarded by extensive trail networks that could keep us busy for days.

Joe Schwartz leads Wade Simmons down towards the Fraser Valley Farmland
  Joe, Wade

Stephen Matthews descending from Elk Mountain
  Stephen

Still under most riders’ radar, the Valley is home to a vibrant trail development scene. I say trail development rather than trail building because they are taking it many steps further than your average quasi-legal scraper-of-a-line-through-the-forest trail builders. The Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association (FVMBA), a non-profit, volunteer run organization, has been slowly and quietly developing a legitimate and well-supported multi-zone network of trails over the last several years, uniting communities like Chilliwack, Abbotsford, Mission and Maple Ridge.

Stephen Matthews rides through foggy mordor like trees on sumas
  Stephen

Stephen Matthews follows wade simmons through blown down trees. Sumas
Stephen Matthews in his natural state
  Stephen Matthews


The FVMBA also unites the mountain bike community through awesome events like their Trailblazer Enduro series, or the free-to-enter That's What She Said all women's event, the latter taking place July 20th in Mission. These trail networks include great signage, established parking areas, and of course kilometers of ripping singletrack for all levels of rider. While the FVMBA-sanctioned trails could keep any rider happy for weeks, there is still more riding in the Fraser Valley for the adventurous type, high above the valley in the rarely travelled to alpine regions.

Sarah Leishman samples some of Vedder Mountain s finest dirt
  Sarah

Sarah Leishman weaves through trees on Vedder
  Sarah

Even though there are vast physical differences from Vedder to Sumas, or Red to Bear, the sub-regions of the valley are united not only by a communal organization of trails, but by a shared vision of growth. Kevin Koopman is the president of the FVMBA, and offered to spend a day with us on Sumas showing our group the incredible trail link-ups on the mountain. Kevin is a visionary who has set his sights on sustainable trail development and community involvement. He along with other FVMBA members, land managers, and volunteers, has been tirelessly working to establish the most approachable and enjoyable trails around.

Kevin Koopmans president of FVMBA rides through foggy trees on sumas
  Kevin Koopmans on Sumas

Wade Simmons and Kevin Koopmans
  Kevin and Wade at the Koopman's abode

Sumas Mountain in Abbotsford: Squidline is a one size fits all trail, for beginners and experts alike. As skeptics who have been told this before, we shrugged off the description and felt the need to make that call ourselves. Two minutes in, Kevin’s description was confirmed. The trail offered a low-grade, meandering descent that could be rolled slowly, but presented opportunities for advanced riding to shine. Squidline presents everything from natural doubles and hips, to blurred vision straight aways and chicane style corners.

Stephen matthews deep in coastal rainforest. sumas moutnain
  Stephen, Squidline

Sarah Leishman leads Stephen Matthews and wade simmons down Sumas mountain s squidline
  Sarah

Deer Hunter on Sumas mountain shows us his bow
  Bow hunter out in the rain looking for deer

sketchy old cabin sumas
  Abandoned Cabin on Sumas, home to sketchy ladders and skinnies. Wade and Sarah aren't impressed

An old cabin and sketchy ancient shore stunts. stephen matthews indulges while Sarah Leishman and wade simmons grimmace

Vedder near Cultus Lake: Mongoloyd is an advanced, hand built DH trail with large gaps and committing moves. The trail is built as a fast singletrack descent with multiple maneuvers and features that are not for the timid.

stephen matthews on mongoloyd. Fresh stitches in arm he still sends it
  Stephen, Mongoloyd

Wade Simmons with signature style on Mongoloyd vedder mountain
  Wade, Mongoloyd

joe schwartz neck deep in the ferns of Vedder Moutnain
  Joe, Mongoloyd

Sarah Leishman buzzes through tall ferns on squidline
  Sarah, Electric Lettuce

Elk-Thurston, Southeast of Chilliwack: this trail is strenuous hike-a-bike on multi-use trail. It then offers amazing sub-alpine views of the Fraser Valley as the trail weaves through alpine meadows. Note this trail should be avoided on high traffic weekends, and hikers have the right of way!

Joe Schwartz part man mostly machine. Pedaling towards Mt Thurston s Peak
Joe Schwartz and Wade Simmons drop from the Peak of Mt Thurston
Stole this eagle from merica for a couple photos.
Stephen Matthews hugs into tight singletrack on the edge of Elk Mountain

Bear Mountain is Mission: The Lorax is an appropriately named trail beginning at the top of a new clear cut and almost instantly drops in to a thick wooded forest. It’s an amazing combination of properly built corners and natural terrain features that produces a very active and enjoyable trail experience.

Joe Schwartz drops into the first corner of the Lorax
  Schwartz drops into Lorax

Stephen Matthews pinned on his ghost weaving down the lorax
  Stephen

Stephen Matthews and Joe Schwartz resting mid trail on Lorax

Red Mountain, also in Mission: Arduum is infamous throughout British Columbia for being the most intense and gnarly downhill course on the BC Cup Race circuit, this steep and technical descent offers white-knuckle rock faces, big stepdowns, fall line root chutes, and high speed gap jumps.

Stephen Matthews riding Arduum DH
  Stephen Matthews, Arduum

the local wildlife at cultis lake
  Cultus Lake Vacationers


We based out of the Cultus Lake Provincial Park campgrounds. Waking up to the smell of cooking bacon and the sound of wind rustling through the trees makes it easy to forget how close we are to the Trans Canada highway and multiple large cities.

campfire smoke drifts through coastal rainforest ferns
coffee coffee coffee coffee coffee

We do not forget, though, how we're surrounded by seemingly unlimited singletrack. It comes in all shapes and sizes, and anticipating this we bring out the quivers. We have our big bikes, our all-mountain/mid-travel/down-country/enduro/whateverthelatestcatchphraseis bikes, and our 29ers for a little alpine riding. Excessive gluttony to be sure, but we are as caught up as the next person in the search for the perfect bike, or just filling our garages with toys.

Stephen Matthews brushing ferns sumas
Wade Simmons follows stephen matthews down the devil s throat on Sumas

With this many trails, mountains, types of bacon, beers, and bikes, we barely scrape the surface of the potential in the Fraser Valley. Someday soon, for us odd people who like doing strange things on bikes, it will be time to pack up the quiver and head on back to the valley. It’s just a short drive away.

sketchy old cabin guestbook sumas


Stay tuned for Part 2/3 next week as we explore more of the Fraser Valley.
Must Read This Week

74 Comments

  • + 91
 POD's. POD's everywhere
  • + 11
 POD's for a month!
  • + 4
 3rd pic = Awesomeness
  • + 0
 my thoughts exactly.
  • + 0
 Oh man I miss home......
  • + 0
 I want to like dhftw1231's comment but i just cant do it
  • + 1
 Mmm how I love living here
  • + 0
 The black and white picture on the left is a Stone of a dead person, Am happy they caught that in their, All of these mountains i have help built but the real builder is BOB and The Fraser Valley Mountain Biking Associaton. they make all of this happen and all of these trails what they are now, I have just done a race up at sumas and it was a black diamond, Knob Gobbler to Noahs Fear, -- Crazy trail. After we had to hike back up, Than it was SquidLine to Emma Peel which was the ending where the parking lot is. I Got my First place in my divssion and first in overall. I love what they have to offer, I just hope we can embrace mountain biking alot more
  • + 21
 While much respect was spread around, I can't believe Ewan Fafard wasn't mentioned.. pretty much everyone one of those trails would be chopped liver without him. Cheers to Ewan for making heading out to the Valley worth the drive.
  • + 4
 Ewan had a significant hand in two trails that I consider to the best that the region (including Whistler/Pemberton/Squamish/N Van) has to offer. Squidline and Lorax. He won't want the glory but there it is --- whenever i have the privilege of riding one of his trails I'm inspired in my own building
  • + 10
 Gary Harder has also been huge on Sumas mountain. He's been building in Abbotsford since the 90's (possibly earlier) and still is putting in a ton of hours. He's basically Abbotsfords digger. He also started the FVMBA.

There is a whole entourage behind the scenes keeping these trails running.
  • + 5
 Yes Gary is the heart and soul - even the kids respect his commitment. Then there's Cary, Kevin K, Mark S over in Vedder. So many behind the scenes people working for trails
  • + 3
 Mr G "is" Sumas mountain
  • + 5
 Kudos to Gary Harder for all his hard work on the advocacy side of things as well as trail building and Ewan as the ultimate flow builder!
  • + 3
 There are two more parts coming on the region - lots more words to follow, so stay tuned!
  • + 1
 This is part 1/3, let's see what comes in the next two parts before firing "you forgot"s and "what about"s?
  • + 4
 Sorry Webhead, it's just that Lorax, Arduum & Squidline wouldn't exist as they currently do without Ewan. So your right, I fired off a 'you forgot' & 'what about's' before all three articles were out.. but I would have thought if there was ever a time to give him some credit, it would be when his three best trails are featured!
  • + 10
 Thank you Reuben for capturing the soul of riding out here in the Valley. Although we are pretty spread out, there is a solid community of riders and builders dedicated to this area, and the trails and infrastructure reflect this. I feel lucky to be a part of it.
  • + 10
 www.fvmba.com

vmta.ca

Put your money where your mouth is boys - join them. Fantastic work being done out in the Valley
  • + 10
 does anyone else remember that cabin and most of those trails from drop in season 3
  • + 1
 I do
  • + 4
 It's great to see the Valley (my home trails) getting the respect that it deserves. Huge props to the trail builders. But lets be honest...... it's awful here.... you should not drive out..... its not worth it.... wink wink Smile
  • + 3
 This is my favourite photo essay(?) that I have ever seen on PB. I'll wager that the winner of POY is in this selection of images.

I must mention that the ubiquitous "rule of thirds" conversation that occurs so often on this site is getting a little played out.

Anyone else agree? Maybe we should make a poll. Just joking, the polls are even more played out.
  • + 4
 Have ridden most of those trails and can confirm how amazing they are. Most people drive right past this region to go to north shore and whistler...expand your horizon and you wont be dissappointed!
  • + 6
 sooooooo glad i live here in the valley. not planning on moving anywhere else in my lifetime, thats fo sure tup
  • + 2
 When I saw the headline, I was all like "Fraser Valley, hours away from here (Squamish) and we've got way too much riding here to bother, but I'll check out the photos" but after reading part 1 I'm way more like "Damn! Gotta get there, and soon!!!" Sick photo essay. This is why Pinkbike is the best media source in the outdoor sport world. Nowhere else delivers stuff like this so often.
  • + 7
 Nice clock
  • + 2
 Guess I'm not the only one who noticed the clock huh? hahaha and some people will say that it is coincidence. well NO.
  • + 1
 In some ways im happy people want to cover the valley mtns/trails, but in otherways id rather it be kept a secret a far away distance land & people stick to there shore bubble otherwise the trails will end up like "ladies only" (just one of many) one min its buffed and perfect next it had 10'000 riders over it in a month and its toast.
  • + 4
 This is my back yard! i forget how lucky we are to live in the frazer valley. 30 minutes to Vedder 1.5 hrs to whistler.
  • + 1
 oops fraser*
  • + 1
 love my home mtn vedder for shreddin! i would have to disagree that mongoloyd "isn't for the timid" though, there's plenty of ride arounds and all those trails have been made ride able for pretty much any skill level. wicked article showing off the fraser valley!
  • + 0
 reuben krabbe... more and more these days it's getting tougher to have a definitive and recognizable photographic style. welp, you are one of the few who maintains it. and by the way, your style is f*cking beautiful. great work, as always.
  • + 2
 Thanks pholang, means a lot. In other news, I learned 'welp' is a word, not just a typo.
  • + 2
 I'm really surprised they didn't have any pictures of Ledgeview in Abbotsford!! In my opinion it's one of the best mountains to ride in the Fraser Valley.
  • + 1
 yea there is some pretty nice jumps up there!
  • + 1
 got some dirt cheap round trip tickets to Vancouver (heading to Whistler end o' this month) but intend to road trip it next time and bring my own bike. the Valley is definitely on my list.
  • + 1
 I ride those trails all the time.. especially living out in Maple Ridge and they Rock...Smile
If you have not been out.. come check it out..well worth it...Smile
Just as good as north shore riding! Epic at its best...!
  • + 1
 That hater bird defected to Canada from the US to protest his government. Traitor, sell out.

(JK)

This is an amazing photo essay. Thanks.
  • + 1
 lets see Sumas twice last week including the Enduro race this past Sunday and Woodlot tonite for some stress relieving and Bear tomorrow nite , it rocks living in the FV
  • + 2
 no ledgeview??? wow u guys r missing out on some sweet stuff. props to mr g aka dad.
  • + 1
 Almost makes me want to move back to the Fraser Vally but then I remember that the lower taxes in Alberta are the only reason I can afford to ride.
  • + 1
 Ran into this gang the day they were at Vedder!
Was a pleasure to meet the godfather of freeride! I have been a fan since 1997.
www.pinkbike.com/photo/9860405
  • + 1
 Omg, i can smell, taste and feel this.I hate it, but I love it. Makes me want to go ride, but am out of commission for the next 7 months.
  • + 1
 What about ledgview??? and hardly covered how awesome vedder is... Lets fix the road to the top of vedder !!!! that way its less hard on vehicles...
  • + 1
 Its good to see the fraser Valley shine onPB come out and enjoy our trails we have it all from steep to flow to long epic rides Thx Garry for all of that nice work!!!
  • + 1
 Poor Sarah seems close to tears, in that first pic.
Take it easy on the trails guys, if you want girls to join your ride.






Smile
  • + 2
 I think she is just slurping from her camel back nozle. It does make her look disapointed though. Im sure if she can hang in that group she knew what she was in for on the trails.
  • + 1
 man, everything is absolutely amazing in this article!! the true spirit of mtb-ing.
  • + 2
 Good to see the Fraser Valley getting some recognition, So under rated.
  • + 1
 Is there a trail guide anywhere? Would love to check some of these rides out
  • + 1
 gutsploder.net it has trail maps and gps points
  • + 2
 www.fvmba.com has maps, trail descriptions, and current conditions.
  • + 3
 Contact us at the FVMBA. Most of us on the executive are more than happy to take people out on a tour guide ride.
  • + 1
 There are so many other good places to get photos on Lorax!
  • + 1
 pic 14 Stephen, my vote for pod
  • + 1
 Great photos as always! Smile
  • + 1
 Wonderful trip! Really envy them.
  • + 1
 very basic rule, very effective, thus very nice photos.
  • + 1
 Nice thirds
  • + 1
 great shots!!
  • + 1
 Great pictures!...
  • + 1
 great!
  • + 1
 Awesome
  • + 1
 wooooooooooooooooooo
  • + 1
 I miss my home Frown
  • + 1
 we miss you. come home already. Alex is going to take me down CBC soon and I might not live to tell the story - so you better be there to witness (someone has to explain to my parents)
  • + 1
 Wholy crap. Of all places and times I would run into YOU! PM me ya' loser! CBC is such a class trail, I miss the shore! I have to say, there are some proper gnarly shredders up this way too though.... tell Alex to come back to the UK!
  • - 3
 Yeah I saw the starving bear in Whistler with an arrow in it's back that had to be killed because it was being 'aggressive' to people. It's fucking barbaric.
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