Nth Shore

BC Bike Race 2014 - Brad Davies

July 23, 2014

Giant South Yarra mountain biker Brad Davies sure picked the right Winter to miss. Brad is spending three months on the West Coast of Canada taking in some of the sweetest singletrack on the planet. In Part 1 of 3 Brad takes us through the 7-Day BC Bike Race and what it’s like to ride (and try to tame) the North Shore.

 Having married a girl from Vancouver Island, I have spent my share of time in this part of the world. When the opportunity came up to spend an entire summer (and Australian winter) in British Columbia I didn’t need much convincing. The trip is primarily an opportunity to spend time with the family and jump off the work treadmill. But as a mountain biker I have to admit the lure of BC’s trails was pretty strong.

 The first month has been pretty hectic on the riding front and also sobering. Having entered the BC Bike Race, I had exactly two weeks to get my North Shore mojo before race start. For those that don’t know the North Shore it is arguably the spiritual home of mountain biking, and freeriding in particular. The Shore (which is technically the outskirts of Vancouver) does not have beginner trails. In fact I would argue it doesn’t have intermediate trails. Almost everything on The Shore is steep, rooty and high consequence. To combat the high amount of rainfall on The Shore there is copious woodwork installed. While they serve a practical function (ie to keep the rider off the damp forest floor), this `trail furniture’ also makes a statement. Why build a bridge that is two foot wide and four inches off the ground when you can make it four inches wide and 6 foot of the ground. Skinny bridges, ladders and rock rollovers are commonplace and not for the faint-hearted.

 My first few rides on The Shore were embarrassing. I came back home after one ride and said I had ridden Ned’s Atomic Dustbin on Mt Seymour. In reality I walked it. The terrain is so steep in places, and the armouring so intimidating, that I simply couldn’t summon the courage to ride it. Gradually, though, the confidence improved and I started to tackle more gnar. I also managed to set the bike up for the conditions, which included installing a dropper post to the Giant Anthem (absolutely commonplace here), beefier tyres and softer suspension settings. I went out again this morning and rode the same trail – ie actually rode it top to bottom. What a difference a month makes…

 The major focus of the month was the week-long BC Bike Race. Updates on the race have been posted to the Enduro Magazine site (www.enduromag.com.au) if you want more info, but the summary is as follows:

-       Massive variety. From the North Shore on opening day we headed to the drier environs of Vancouver Island and then the rugged Sunshine Coast. The race culminated at Squamish and Whistler – two of the world’s mountain bike meccas – with groomed runs

-       Challenging riding. Each stage had a timed Enduro section with genuinely technical riding. Part of the improvement process was riding this sort of terrain in a race environment where you had little choice but to follow the rider in front of you over a massive rock rollover or skinny bridge

-       Physical challenge. Despite the relatively short stages (the longest was 60kms) the race was primarily singletrack. The kms don’t tend to tick over all that quickly when you are negotiating wet roots and slippery rocks.

 The Giant Anthem has proven to be the perfect weapon. I had initially thought about using a Trance for the race (and the trip more broadly) but The Anthem – with the addition of the dropper post in particular – has provided plenty of bike for the job. The 7-day race went without so much as a puncture despite frames cracking around me.

 As a final note, I managed to get out yesterday with a few of the North Shore pioneers who took me to a secret trail that was very much off piste. It required a hike a bike up, but the view was worth it. Oh, and the plunge down wasn’t too bad either.