The Shore Lives!

Apr 5, 2013 at 13:11
by Mark Wood  
If you've been following the turning of the wheels here on the Shore as of late, then you know there's some good things happening. For those of us that live here, dig here and ride here, that's definitely an understatement. What has been quietly building in momentum for the last three years is now exploding out of the gate like Stevie Smith at Mont Ste. Anne! What once was lost, now is found, and our future here looks brighter than ever.

You'll never take the gnar outta the Shore. Simmons knows where the nugs are. Photo: Sterling Lorence

Not so long ago, the Shore gave birth to Freeride on the shoulders of some of the biggest names in the sport. Simmons, Super T, Gully, Vanderham & Shandro rode into the history books on outlandish creations borne from the hands of Digger & Dangerous Dan. It is a history every mountain biker knows well. Captured on celluloid in Digger's NSX videos, it spurred the building of Shore style stunts round the world. Although the world seems to think the Shore is all about ladder bridges and log rides, take Shore local Thomas Vanderham's words from Follow Me: "When I go out and ride I don't ride skinnies and I rarely ride anything that's built out of wood." Despite the following segment showing Thomas no-handing a massive platform gap over a creek, the old stunts that riddled the Shore are dying a long, slow death.

bigquotesWhen I go out and ride I don't ride skinnies and I rarely ride anything that's built out of wood. - Thomas Vanderham

Rotted wood on Pink Starfish. Slicker than puppy shit on a hardwood floor and rotten as a witch's tit.

We find ourselves in a new era. As the old stunts rot out, (presenting an entirely different challenge to the rider in the interim stages of decay) the capacity to replace every expired platform or skinny amassed over the past twenty years simply isn't there. Nor, seemingly, is the appetite. The community is pulling together in a showing of arms to rebuild and revitalize our treasured trails, literally from the ground up. Hundreds are hard at work on the steep mountain faces, building bridges, diverting water and throwing dirt. But not everyone one is happy. As rotted stunts are removed, erosion undone and sustainability sought, a select few condemn the efforts as 'dumbing down' the Shore. But, with the amount of deferred maintenance bottle-necked in our 20+ year old network, neglect is no longer an option.

Those that truly know the Shore fear nothing. Thankfully, you can never take the gnar out of the Shore. For the vocal minority that seem unable to accept the change in our midst, Wade Simmons, now Director with the NSMBA, has a standing offer. "Anyone who thinks we're 'dumbing down the Shore', I'll be happy to take them for a ride." I'd carefully consider that challenge before accepting. Many upper level challenges still lurk in the mist for those that want it, but now there's something for everyone. Patching holes, fixing drainage, finding sustainable alignments, add in some flow, cohesive connections and shralpable corners, and it appears things are being smartened up rather than "dumbed down". Fortunately, our pursuit of sustainability is not only harmonious with a positive ride experience, it's strengthening relations with Land Managers & the broad based community, resulting in successful grant pursuits which in turn, fuels the trail work.

Digger leading the charge on Expresso. Photo: Jerry Willows

Bench cut?! On the Shore?! Photo: Norma Ibarra

"The Shore has never been running better!" Digger has a big smile on his face, happy to be 'throwing dirt in the noon day sun!' The original founder of the NSMBA, it's only fitting he has returned to the Directorship this year. "The trails were never like this in the beginning, we're just bringing them back to where they began!" He's busy filling in deep trenches on the Baden Powell, one of the most heavily used arteries on Fromme, beaten down from hikers, dog walkers and bikers since its creation in 1970. The NSMBA has stepped up to restore this community treasure, for the betterment of all, further establishing a position of leadership and proving our worth to the budget strained Land Managers.

bigquotesThe Shore has never been running better! The trails were never like this in the beginning, we're just bringing them back to where they began! - Digger

Our new found expertise is taking form in reroutes and water management, grade reversals and outslope, banked corners and flow. Water dispersion is paramount in a climate that sees over 2000mm of rain per year (that's 6 feet, or 72 inches for our brethren south of the border), yet little drainage was implemented in the original builds. Sustainability was an unknown term in the era when the Shore first rose up so long ago. Combine the lethal combination of our waterlogged climate, inherited fall line trails and heavy, year round ridership, many of the trails have eroded down to the bones. We've been busy retrofitting the worst sections, integrating a new school flow while keeping those heavy tech sections that we love so much. After all, the Godfather is an integral part of our tactical approach. Chunky technical and flowy goodness is proving a combination that incorporates the best of both worlds, inviting new riders into the fray while keeping the 'ol timers' happy retaining progressive lines. At least some of us.

misty morning
Still having problems finding the gnar gnar? Maybe ask Arthur "Gnar Gnar" Gaillot. Arthur on the Skull. Photo: Mark Wood

While steep & deep still abounds, the sport is opening to other skill levels with the building of flowy XC trails like the Salamander, Gnomer and Defibrillator. "Lower Seymour has never been better!" Kevin Calhoun, pro rider for Rocky Mountain Bikes, has long been riding Shore circuits that would kill a goat. "It's not a select group of riders out here anymore, the sport has exploded and the trail network needs to expand to accommodate." Its enlightening to see this benevolence in vision, especially from a long time core rider who holds innumerable podium finishes.

bigquotesLower Seymour has never been better! It's not a select group of riders out here anymore, the sport has exploded and the trail network needs to expand to accommodate. - Kevin Calhoun

Mathew Bond, the NSMBA's youngest and longest serving President, rallies the troops in the early morning on Seymour Mountain. Photo: Norma Ibarra

dead wood
Fashionable detritus on Boogieman. Did I mention puppies & witches?

To tackle this monumental task, our solution had to come from within. Our first priority was to build capacity by empowering the community. Knowledge is power and therefore education key. With initiatives like the North Shore Builders Academy, the knowledge base has grown exponentially, and continues to grow. 187 graduates from 2012 have now become our elite forces: the Shore Corps. As evidenced in our first trail day of 2013, held this March, we have become a formidable machine capable of high quality work in short order. Combine this with the North Shore Trail Adoption Plan, what first seemed insurmountable is now within our grasp. We are literally rebuilding the Shore, making up for lost decades. TAP has taken on a life of its own, thanks to the Adopters who care enough to give back. Last year TAP tallied 70 trail days alone, with 100 optimistically projected for 2013. With the recent pilot project gifting the TAP framework to our brotherhood in the valley, the Fraser Valley Mountain Bike Association is helping to strengthen efforts through partnerships and knowledge sharing while at the same time fulfilling the mission of the NSMBA: Trails for all, trails forever.

The Shore Corps: Ready, willing & able. Our latest trail day this March, hosted by MEC. "The world is run by those who show up."

Support those who support the Shore.

The corporate support has been the gas in the tank and is allowing us to tackle projects once thought beyond our scope. With thanks to some solid backing from some big names in the sport, we are tapping into greater opportunities to keep the machine moving forward. Our list of donors and sponsors is strong and deep, ranging from local industry to national and international supporters. Although Arc'teryx doesn't even make bike gear, they live and play here on the Shore and are giving back as title sponsors of the Builders Academy while at the same time reinventing Dreamweaver on Fromme as part of TAP. MEC have been working tirelessly transforming Expresso under the watchful eye of Digger and have also granted the NSMBA $15 000 to revitalize the Bridle Path. While lead builder Matt Preston leads his crew on the Bridle, Digger and his team of builders are tackling the restoration of the Baden Powell trail (built by the boyscouts in 1970, of which Little Digger was one) thanks to grant monies from the CP Loewen Foundation. Beyond these two projects, each massive on their own, TAP is tackling another 25 mtb and multi use trails in 2013. The NSMBA is working on trails that benefit not just the riders, but the greater community, giving us a broader respect that is echoing in some exciting opportunities on the near horizon. We are proving to the Land Managers and the non endemic community that we are responsible, capable and a valuable ally.

Got wood? Sure, we got wood. Digger craftsmanship on Lower Ladies.

Regardless, when we are gone, the forest will take it all back in the ongoing cycle of ruin & renewal.

Two gargantuan projects, led by the NSMBA for the betterment of the greater community.

Perhaps not as sexy as building big drops and sick gaps, we're taking on much needed work, long overdue. Thankfully, we seem to be catching up, and doing it in double time. At the same time, we're learning how to work with the Land Managers, in a place marred by a history of strained relations. We now seem to be pulling on the rope in the same direction at a serendipitous time when our capacity snowballs. Hundreds of people are making it happen, pledging their allegiance to the cause. A fellow builder put it to me best "you've got to bake the cake before you put the icing on." Using this analogy, right now, our cake's in the oven. Our next phase is sure to be an exciting one as we get ready to put the icing on the cake. In the meantime, make no mistake, the Shore is open for business.

Business time. Irish Pete, Digger and Podo working on the Baden in torrential downpours for weeks on end.


  • 73 0
 Love this! The shore is getting a major over haul and we can't thank the builders enough! These folks put in tons of hours and hard work so we can go out and enjoy. Give it up for these guys cause without them we would be stuck!
  • 12 8
 No dig no ride
  • 5 26
flag danonow (Apr 8, 2013 at 19:18) (Below Threshold)
 NSMBA SUCKS!!! its all about hidden loam.
  • 4 0
 Then stop chatting and go build some!
  • 5 2
 It's really great that they involve so many people in the community. My high school bike team does a trail building day every year.
  • 3 0
 they should do it every month, or week. Every day doesnt sound too bad either
  • 2 0
 it says hidden for a reason, and idk the trails on seymour aren't bad I like corkscrew and pingu, just wish they did some work on cypress, to all the guys saying "then go help out" I will gladly help clear out the trees across the trail on mystery dh, take care of cypress NSMBA we need far more work on cypress then fromme
  • 2 0
 i like seymour the most i havent ridden cypress but i find fromme to short, i went up to the 5th switch back and the trial short... i like shredding down neds the most. sometimes i just cant help, like when i went down incline on seymour two huge trees fell over the trial and i cant do anything as i dont own a chain saw (im only 14). when ever i pass digger on a trial i always say thanks!
  • 2 0
 You stopped two switchbacks too early ;-) It's also a big old climb from 5th to 6th....
  • 1 0
 Why is MEC giving 15,000$$ to reviltalize bridal path, I mean how much can it really coast, its all done by volunteer wrok so all your paying for is tools and food. Put some of that money towrds Cypress cause it actually needs it.
  • 2 0
 Why is it every time I look at the bottom picture, I get a hankering to watch Deliverance.
  • 2 0
 Digger belongs in the mountain bike hall of fame
  • 30 0
 long live the shore
  • 5 0
 You said it!!! Also, you gotta lot the "Rotted wood on Pink Starfish. Slicker than puppy shit on a hardwood floor and rotten as a witch's tit." comment! LOL.
  • 22 0
 this is the stuff that really makes me jealous. I mean, mountainbiking is in every part of the world in some form of it, but the Shore is something so unique, that it cannot be mimicked and cannot be experienced through any other combination of terrain, climate, people and deep roots of glorious history, than the Shore. What you are doing is fantastic, because it keeps the world inspired. Don't you dare stop.
  • 12 0
 Good article. Let me get this straight, all I have to do to have Simmons take me on a ride is say they're "dumbing down the shore?" Next time I'm in the area I just may do that. I'd have a story that I would someday tell my kids.
  • 6 1
 I think the point is you better be ready to put on some big boy pants that many would not dare to wear. I believe they are saying shut up and ride, or if you are going to talk the talk, be ready to walk the walk. I know for certain I would have to tuck tail and turn around if I dared Simmons to show me the Gnar.
  • 1 0
 Yeah thats kinda like meeting Josh Bender at the top of a trail that you have never ridden before in your life, and have him ask you to follow him. We've all seen the videos of Tippie and Wade up there, Those guys go hard!
  • 9 1
 Rode Fromme for the first time in several years on Saturday. Even with the torrential downpours on Friday night, the stuff we rode was mostly draining well. All of our crew was loving the mix of tech and some added flow. We did a 5 hour route with tons of diversity and even an ladder here and there. Sections that haven't' been addressed or rerouted yet were painfully obvious with water flowing straight down the trail. Great work NSMBA....the Shore 2.0 is as good as ever!!
  • 7 1
 If I gave a dollar to each person responsible for making the Shore such a mecca to ride and who pushed and pushed to prove to politicians that this can be done and it can support a growing community of riders... I'd be bloody poor and living on the streets. I just wouldn't be able to afford that many loonies. Thank you everyone.
  • 6 0
 Actually you'd probably only be out a few hundred bucks. Like many areas, it's a relatively small crew of people who get it all done. Pretty amazing stuff.
  • 7 0
 Being one of those builders In that last pic I think you are quite wrong we have a strong group of builders that are expanding every year. Yes on the scale of riders to builders it is a small group but with the steps being taken by the NSMBA it will only expand and the trails will just become better. Podo
  • 1 0
 Bryce, I believe there are far more builders than you think, like Podo said. However it goes beyond the builders. We can't forget the people who showed up to council meetings to stand up for all the mountain bikers, the organizations and bike shops that educate the public on the importance of trail building, how to do it properly and take pride in maintaining the places you love to ride. We also can't forget to thank the many companies and corporations that are now sponsoring trails and providing financial support. I even have great gratitude to each and every rider who rides the trails with respect. Trail builders are often unsung heroes but without the people who also prove to the city and district that this can be a great thing then their work is lost as we'd be in a constant struggle to keep the beautiful efforts of the builders a place to be enjoyed by the public, if the city were to continually come in and decommission the trails.
  • 7 2
 The Shore is great, rode there last September. However, will the terms "gnar" and "gnar gnar" please go away? Go hang out with "Extreme" somewhere in the world of overused cliché's. Ha!
  • 12 0
 You wouldnt be saying that if you lived in GNARNIA
  • 5 1
 The evolution of the shore is going in the right direction! Old school wasn't built for the masses or longevity, woodwork has a finite life. When those builders are no longer around, the structures go. Most builders are realizing this now and building trails to ride, not that need constant maintenance.
  • 12 9
 I prefer dirt and flow to elevated, skinny, wood, derailer eating stunts that lack flow or purpose. I love a good ladder drop as much as the rest of us.. but a skinny, just for the sake of being a skinny, isn't that fun.
  • 2 2
 im with you, but at the same time skinnies are sketchy and so I both dislike em and think theyre fun.
  • 2 3
 totally agree , when you have such amazing terrain as that why would you want to not ride on it ?
  • 13 0
 What you're saying is that you don't have fun riding skinnies. That's valid. Enlightened riders also realize that everyone has different preferences. Personally, sanitized flow trails aren't that enjoyable for me. But that's ok too. There just needs to be a variety of trail so that everyone can ride what they want.
  • 1 0
 I totally agree dfiler, variety is key to keeping things fun and interesting. The old school skinnies were what I was talking about. those seem to be generally falling out of favor since the old ones are rotting and not a lot of new ones popping up. I love good woodwork, don't get me wrong. It was the 4'+ high 2x4 skinnies that I didn't like very much. That's just me though.. I was intending to say that the shore 2.0 has made some nice improvements as riding styles have evolved.
  • 1 0
 Spoken like someone that doesn't get the Shore, and hasn't spent any or enough time to get it.

True, there are skinnies for sake of being a skinny, but a majority of what you see on the Shore has organically evolved over decades. If you come and ride the trails here, you won't see carpentry, but rather trail structures that seem as natural as the environment around them, with everything built with such "purpose" that it's almost as if it has always been there... and if someone doesn't think this stuff has "flow", then their definition of flow is extremely narrow minded.

Also keep in mind that on Pink Bike you will only see pictures of the gnar (a word I hate so much) because that is what makes best front page photos. In reality, the North Shore and the dozen other trail areas nearby it are extremely diverse.
  • 2 0
 Reading this just made me even more angry that California doesn't embrace mountain bikers. We penalize them and say they are causing "erosion" and fine them if they are caught riding an illegal trail. So sad we can't get our act together like the shore has
  • 2 0
 Call up yer local IMBA reps and get going.
  • 2 0
 The "erosion" argument is pretty specious. On the North Shore any trail whether it be hiking or mtb biking will erode if not constructed taking into consideration the effects of rain. What we are seeing now is that the mtb bikers have figured it out whereas the hikers either haven't or don't care. The mtb trails in many cases are in better shape than the hiking only trails. Furthermore, on multi-use trails the only groups maintining them are the mtbers. Hikers have been asked to participate but generally don't want to have anything to do with the mtbers. It's evolving on the Shore and imo the mtbers thanks to nsmba have a good reputation and representation and it shows in the quality of the trails.
  • 3 2
 Good to see Todd and crew still hard at work up north! While I don't necessarily agree with changing the trails to make them more accessible by all, as the shore used to carry a sort of ;in the club' stigma some riders appreciated with it, the work the NSMBA and trail crews are doing right now will keep the mountains and trails of the shore running for generations to come. I personally miss the old days of the woodlot and woodwork on the shore, as it took skill and balls to ride them, but TTF's are a dying breed in mountain biking.
  • 4 0
 Such a great article! The Shore is a truly amazing place. I only wish I could go there more often.
  • 1 0
 Thanks to the great builders of the shore, the trails have never been better and safer. We have to remember though, no matter how hard or easy the trails are, they can still bite you in the arse! Yesterday a fellow rider was seroiusly injured. Wishing him all the best and speedy recovery. Ride safe
  • 1 0
 I had the pleasure of riding the area with the guys at Endless Biking in February. I had a great time and even ran into Digger the next day while hiking the BP the next day with my wife. I couldn't thank him enough. Probably thought I was some kind of kook hiker.LOL Keep up the good work all...
  • 3 0
 First image is an illegal trail. If you try to repair the wood structures on Pink Starfish you will get a fine and the work will be destroyed.
  • 2 1
 First photo is on an illegal trail!! Photo of Pink Starfish rotting logs - the logs are only rotting because maintenance was and is not allowed on that trail. Also, Skull is not that Gnar, once you have ridden it a few times.
  • 1 0
 Well I cut my teeth on all three of the monuments that make up the North Shore. Riding a kuwahara Cascade with cantilever bakes with the the original "V" bars. I broke these on a race down Cypress in the 80's. Scary in the fact that going down those trails and power line roads were rough and "gnar gnar" for the time and tech! I then had Paul Brodie build me a Brobie Romax. But compared to braking power now, that was an adventure every time you point down and ventured to keep it between the mayo and the mustard. I shed a tear while reading this and have very fond memories of long days spent climbing every thing and riding some sweeet loam of a trail just built. Yes we used to climb every thing! Riding from Kits to the top of Grouse for a beer was just the way. We scoffed at any one who shuttled back in those days. I have sense found out that shuttling has its place for better of for worse. I took my son up Seymour (shuttled) last week for the first time. Wow is all i can say. Road past the Mushroom Parking Lot and that used to be our high spot from our ride from Kits! Riding up Old Buck and ripping Severed Dick was one of the highlights for us. Long live the North Shore thats for Shore.
  • 1 0
 I've just started riding the shore this spring,so far only Cypress,but It's hands down the gnarliest riding I know. I mean,I haven't done much else than whistler and my home Czech riding,however coming to cypress,I find the challenge I need to get better on the bike,it has everything! Thanks for all your work,I hope I'll have a chance to get on some of the trail days in the near future,as I love giving back to the forest,to the community that gives me what I live for.
  • 2 0
 Nothing but respect for the people who spend their time, effort and hard earned $ building trails.

...and Simmons rolling that rock face on a 29er!!!!
  • 1 0
 Rotted wood on Pink Starfish. Slicker than puppy shit on a hardwood floor and rotten as a witch's tit....funniest thing I've heard all year. Great work boys.. Dig to ride and ride to live!
  • 3 0
 Where is defribullator? Please stay off Nomer until it really dries out - say May

Thanks for all the work Matt
  • 5 1
 Dangerous Dan!
  • 3 0
 digger is tha MAN Smile we love you long time, hahaaa..
  • 1 0
 I spent 7 months living in Vancouver and Cypress, Seymour, and Fromme contained the gnarliest riding I have been exposed to hands down.
  • 3 1
 Like my Uncle Steve, has been saying for years.... "There's no shore like the North shore, that's for shore"
  • 2 0
 This looks amazing! I'll be visiting BC this summer so can't wait to check out these places Smile
  • 2 0
 "slipperier than puppy shit on the floor and more rotten than a witches tit"
-classic pb Big Grin
  • 1 0
 props to nukeproof for supporting TAP, wasn't expecting that, same with devinci, and happy to see sugoi our local bike clothing brand supporting the trails
  • 2 0
 Dan and Digger are legends! North Van ftw!
  • 1 0
 Nice write-up Mark! I'll see you at the next trail day! Couldn't make it to the last cause of finals.
  • 2 0
 that double hump ladder bridge looks awesome
  • 1 0
 Late last summer I crashed on the second roller right in front Digger as he was spooning dirt just above it...... I'd like to think I was the first person to crash there !
  • 1 0
 Major props the people putting the effort in the shore is a world famous gem of pure big mountain riding.
  • 1 0
 thumbs up to all the builders..!!!...thanks guys
  • 2 1
 I hate living in Australia right now.... god dammit
  • 2 0
 Thanks Digger and all!
  • 1 0
 Yeah Tool and the shore all ways lives
  • 1 0
 Sweet looks like we can swear on pinkbike
  • 1 0
  • 1 0
Big Grin

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