is the month when I usually throw the bones and play fortune teller. With great surety, I’d peer into 2016 and report which brand will rise above all others; who will win the DH worlds; which controversial trend will take root and which genre will fall into the shadows. Subtle or not I’d create yet another angle to insert Pinkbike’s three mythical trolls somewhere in the text, and after concluding with a positive, but slightly ominous message about the sport, I’d sew up my editorial with, “Only Time will Tell.” Had I not met Dave and Griffin, that’s how this story would have gone down.
Terrain actually exists where a mountain bike can be ridden on any point of the compass without the benefit of an improved pathway: the Atacama Plateau, Nullarbor Plain, Bayanzag, the Hun Graben, Thingvellir, Basissletta, and Odessa, Texas. I’m sure I missed a few, but the point is, while there are wild places on this earth where we could choose to ride anywhere we want - possibly where no other human has been - most us are going to need some sort of navigable trail.
Mountain bikers are as free to roam the woods as a stylus is free to roam a vinyl record. We can choose how fit we want to be. We can choose the perfect bike, but once we roll past the trailhead, we commit to a journey that was chosen by others. The builder dictates when to go right or left, how high to climb, when to fly and when to fall.
Fact is: however bad-ass we may believe them to be, mountain bikes are pretty lame off trail. The landscape doesn’t have to be very rough to defeat the noblest attempts to deviate from the ribbon of soil that the builders have cleared.
Few places drive that home better than Squamish, BC, where a supportive sports community and a spectacular blend of exposed granite and dense forest has lured some of the best builders in the Pacific Northwest. The density of the trees and lay of the land there is such that most trails offer the only viable passage.
Pinkbike was testing bikes there during November. I had spent a great deal of time riding in nearby Whistler, but the Squamish zone was a different world. The routes are beautifully crafted into the landscape, and each trail is thematic: monster rock rolls, or jump lines, or ladders and drops, or berms and flow – most come with a generous serving of BC’s staple: steep, rooted fall-line descents. However challenging its features were, each line was crafted to showcase some unique aspect of the forest – the vibe in Squamish is both pride and respect.
|Dave said that Griffin, already a good bike-handler at the age of seven, was digging with him almost from the moment he could walk.|
I met Dave and Griffin Reid riding Rupert. It was my last ride in Squamish. The father and son team joined Mike Levy and I while we waited for a small traffic jam to clear before hitting the last descent. When I mentioned I was new to Squamish, Dave asked me which trails I liked best. Easy answer: every one that I had ridden so far. But, I did carefully describe one masterpiece above Britannia Beach, after which he smiled at his son and said, “Did you hear that?” Turns out, I had been speaking with the man who helped to create it - and almost every other trail on my list. Dave said that Griffin, already a good bike-handler at the age of seven, was digging with him almost from the moment he could walk.
I left Squamish’s crappy November weather and stunning trail system with a new respect for trail builders, and a much simpler outlook. All I really needed was good health, a decent bike, and builders like Dave, who can make a narrow swath of earth do magical things. As a result, I only have three predictions for next year: Bikes are going to get better. Trails are going to get better and, if we can all manage to stay healthy and ride, 2016 will be perfect.