7-16-04: British Columbia by Rob

British Columbia
Where to ride, where to stay and how to get there.
Submitted by Rob, Edited by Iggy

British Columbia as their license plate says is beautiful. For a mountain biker it is more than beautiful, it’s nirvana. On July 10th, I left an already humid Brooklyn, New York for uncharted British Columbia, armed with nothing more than an Intense M1, some body armor, and a map. I flew out on Cathay Pacific which is an airline that flies from New York to Vancouver to Hong Kong. If your lucky it will flown by Claudio Latan, a mountain bike guide at Whistler in the summer and a ski guide at Blackcomb in the winter. I got my ticket for around $400, which was a good price but I booked far in advance. Search the internet keeping in mind both Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, BC destinations will get you within striking distance of the sickest riding of your life.

British Columbia
Where to ride, where to stay and how to get there.
Submitted by Rob, Edited by Iggy

British Columbia as their license plate says is beautiful. For a mountain biker it is more than beautiful, it’s nirvana. On July 10th, I left an already humid Brooklyn, New York for uncharted British Columbia, armed with nothing more than an Intense M1, some body armor, and a map. I flew out on Cathay Pacific which is an airline that flies from New York to Vancouver to Hong Kong. If your lucky it will flown by Claudio Latan, a mountain bike guide at Whistler in the summer and a ski guide at Blackcomb in the winter. I got my ticket for around $400, which was a good price but I booked far in advance. Search the internet keeping in mind both Seattle, Washington and Vancouver, BC destinations will get you within striking distance of the sickest riding of your life.

I hitched a ride in the following morning with a couple of nice girls from New Zealand, but you may not be that lucky. There is a bus service that leaves from the airport at regular intervals and is bike friendly and costs about $65 each way. If you plan on renting a car, I heavily suggest renting a pick-up truck. There are shuttle runs a plenty in BC, and with one pick up and another vehicle you can session a run all day. Discount Car Rental had the cheapest deal on a pickup truck when I checked around, but booking ahead is always a good idea.

There are two highly reputable companies that can pick you from the airport and bring you to Whistler for the start of your trip. One is a Ticket 2 Ride BC and the other is West Coast Freeride Guides. Both are owned and operated by riders who will take you to the illest riding in the province. Ticket 2 Ride BC is a company owned by Orange sponsored English rider Scott Lanzi. Lanzi has a beautiful Chalet in Creekside just minutes from Whistler Village that can accommodate up to 15. The chalet has a beautiful open kitchen, large wrap around deck and full bike work shop that is available 24 hours a day. You’ll pay less staying at Ticket 2 Ride BC than the Shoestring Lodge, and you won’t have to worry about getting your bike or camera jacked from your room. You’ll also have access to skills clinics, pro camps, and day trips to the North Shore, Squamish and other spots only known by locals. On top of that Lanzi is a great rider and can hold his own at the pub…don’t ask about that night at Buffalo Bill’s-what happens at Whistler stays at Whistler.
Contact Scott at 604-932-0249 or www.ticket2ridebc.com and tell him Rebholz sent you.

If getting out of Whistler to ride is on your agenda the West Coast Freeride Guides are your best bet. WCFG are also happy to pick you up at the Vancouver International Airport, and can offer a discounted rate at several local hotels. Owned and operated by local freeride militiaman Michael Hallet and Whistler Park Guide Brian Vanderkamp, West Coast Freeride Guides offer day, multi-day or week long adventure vacations that will take you to riding spots that until now resided only in your dreams. They know the North Shore like the back of their hands, so bring your body armor and don’t follow them too close because they’ll drop anything. WCFG will provide tents and provisions or arrange discounted motels if you want to get out and really see something. Regulars to the interior of BC, these guys are tight with local legends everywhere from Penticion to William's Lake. On our trip to Squamish I sat next to the Bronze winner of last year’s Red Bull Rampage, Glynn O’Brien. Offering tours to slick rock stunt encrusted Squamish, dry and dusty Pemberton with descents steep enough to require a parachute, Seymour, Cypress and Frome on the North Shore, the inland empire of Kamloops with pro‘s like Specialized’s mad man Brett Tippie and IDUN hero Brendan Parker , Williams Lake where the locals are more excited about showing you their stunts than you are about riding them, the West Coast Freeride Guides will show you everything BC has to offer. Get up with these guys at 604-905-9375 or www.freerideguides.com.

If you're bringing up your own rig box it well because the airline baggage handlers simply do not care about your beautiful baby as much as you do. If you're not using a hard side case then collect that bubble wrap and go to town on your loved one. There's nothing worse than showing up to a foreign land with a scratched fork or broken brake lever. If you decide to rent when you arrive there are plenty of options. After dumping the oil and nitrogen that once made my Romic so buttery smooth the good people at the Whistler Rental Shop were good enough to lend me a Kona Stab Garbanzo. Definitely the nicest resort rental I've ever seen, the Garbanzo Stab features a 7 and 7 capabilities with 8 inch rotors. What more do you need? If you've got a few more dollars to spend a new DEMO 9 can be obtained from Evolution bikes or if Banshee makes you Scream, then head over to Summit Bikes in the Village to rent one of their fleet of the most popular bikes on the Shore.

If buying a bike is on your agenda then contact Banshee directly while your up in North Van. Undoubtedly the hottest freeride bikes on the planet right now, Banshee is definitely running the game on the Shore. With the long travel Scream and Chaparral or the hard tail Morphine or Scratch, you really can't go wrong. After my Romic shock waved the white flag, Banshee was there to hook me up with a beautiful Chaparral to tour British Columbia with. I've ridden Screams before and loved their stability so I was interested in trying a scaled down version, which is the Chaparral. Unbelievable. To pick the bike up it feels like a moderate weight freeride bike, but to ride it is like whipping a nimble little 25 lb trail bike. Very strange how Banshee got this bike to ride so lightly, but they did it. A pleasure to ride, the Chaparral sports 5-6 inches of travel, which is just bottomless. The quick steering and ease of lifting the 24 inch rear wheel off the ground is amazing. Coming off of a M-1 that tanks to the ground, this little freeride machine was a treat to whip around Kamloops, North Van and Squamish with. I'd have loved to bring one back home with me and next time out to BC I think I will.

Protective Gear
A must for anyone who wishes to come home in one piece, protective gear is easily obtainable at almost every local shop. If you’re in Vancouver stop by John Henry bikes. Local riding hero Darren Butler will hook you up with the best deal in town. If you’re looking for the best kept local secret in body armor check out Hoots Gear. A full line of protective gear and clothing, Hoots Gear is owned and operated by Norco factory rider Jay Hoots. If you haven’t already checked this stuff yet peep it at www.hootsgear.com. Really innovative stuff at a reasonable price. I was impressed with the jacket that included collarbone protector (ehhmmm Juan’s X-mas gift?) and leg protectors with a plate built in the back to prevent those nasty bear claw looking scars from pedal backlash. Support Hoots Gear and you support a rider who’s really giving back to his community. In the short time I spent with Jay Hoots he took me to a local dirt jumping track that he got the town government to sponsor and showed me how sic the local kids are getting from this park. The fruits of his labor are already showing with more towns picking up on the idea. He has a feature in the August Mountain Biking issue on the program. Check it out and check out Hoots Gear.
So now you’ve got a room, a truck, armor and a bike now what?

Every word about how ill Whistler is a huge understatement. Until you’ve cleared 45 tables on A-line or done the 25+ minute run from the top of the Garbanzo lift it’s hard to understand how insane this place it is. I’m here to break it down for you.

Number one the staff at Whistler is the best in universe. The man who runs the show is a rider, the trail builders are riders, even the maintenance guys are whipping 7 inch travel bikes. The Whistler staff made my job an easy one, doing everything from taking me on countless runs up to the Garbanzo chair in a truck before the lift opened to furnishing me with a Kona Stab Garbanzo after my Romic shock decided it didn't want to work. From the moment I stepped in the park I felt strangely at home and a sense of peace washed over me. Overstated, maybe but you should visit before you dismiss my claim.

Greeted by Tom Pro, the bike park director, I was given a king's welcome. He set me up with part time guide, part time trail builder Duncan who just finishing the highly anticipated Smoke and Mirrors trail. A perfect trail for those ready to make the jump into the world of teeter totters, ladders and all that is wooden, I was glad to be one of the first to clean the trail. From there Duncan asked me what I wanted to ride next, and of no surprise to him I called upon the A-line for the next descent.

A-line is to a mountain biker what heroin is to a junkie. Once I got a taste of the smooth flowy goodness with massive table tops I was hooked for life. I can lay awake at night and just see table, burm, table, table, burm. A-line is the most heavily traveled trail in North America and possibly the world. A new safety feature installed this year, a mandatory 2 ft drop to enter the trail, helps to deter under experienced riders from hurting themselves. Quickly after the safety feature there is a large gap jump rolled by most and cleared by pro's. I didn't even think it was possible until I saw Norco Factory rider Jay Hoots light it up. Coming in hot after the first corner the first tabletop is a stage for all on the chairlift. The speed into this first table leads to both comedy and tragedy as I saw in my short stint at Whistler. The beauty of watching Hoots throw up a 3-star is offset by the horror of middle age dad's realizations of what the word endo means.

The rest of A-line is a blur of carve able burms and beautifully maintained tabletop jumps. For the more experienced rider, an off-shoot of A-line, Crab Apple Hits is more of a challenge. Aptly named, this trail has massive tables that are intimidating even to the most advanced rider. As I was following Brett Tippie into the entrance of the trail he casually mentioned someone died on these jumps late last year. He said that the rider was impaled on his handlebars and died instantly. Terrific I thought. By following Brett's speed I cleared all the tables and got my rhythm. Crab Apple Hits are definitely a must for those interested in expanding their definition of big.

The lower part of A-line again aptly dubbed hornet is one last sweet sting before returning you to ground zero. A fast section with an insanely long tabletop, hornet was redone this year to perfection. For those who have a taste for ladders the tables can be bypassed by entering Old School, named for the technique Duncan constructed it's unbelievably long suspended framework. A ban on power tools due to the high risk of forest fires, this trail was completed by hand in the dead heat of last summer's sweltering July. A big up goes to Duncan for taking it back to the Old School on this wonderful trail.

For the mountain crosser in all of us, one of the most challenging biker-cross courses in the world can be had by simply straying right and painfully avoiding a blistering run on hornet. Warning: once you've tried the 4-cross course you may not be able to stop. The sheer rush of clearing 30 to 40 foot tables is addictive in itself, and compound that with the chance to duck out in the middle of the course to hit one of the 15 or 30 ft high wooden boxes conveniently transitioned out may make you a full blown convert to the track. From these wonderfully constructed launches one can pull a hard right and take flight on the infamous green wall ride that is made famous on websites around the world. If that's not enough, soar off one of the 3 GLC drops to endless transition and head up the chair again.

The jumping's only begun, because now it's time for Dirt Merchant. The Dirty Merchant is a roller coaster of step-ups, step-downs, gaps and massive tables. Throw in the 7 ft Rutabaga Rock drop and you've got yourself a party. The thing that stands out about Dirt Merchant is the ill flow. Once you've mentally mapped the terrain it's like pouring Couvasier over rocks. One of the faster trails on the mountain, there's no time for half stepping once you've rolled the entrance ramp. It's all go, go, go.

So now your hands are in claw mode and you want to slow down on the jumping and concentrate on the techy stuff. Alright lets take it from the top…of the mountain that is. The newly opened Garbanzo chair opens a new world of options for the pilot; everything from endless techy singletrack descents, wall rides, and shale chutes. The Garbanzo chair adds 2200 vertical feet for a total descent of 3400 feet. For all of us East Coast riders, let's do a little math. That's 3 Plattekill's or 4 Mountain Creek's. Yeah it's real.

There are four main trails on the mountain, but when I was riding there they weren't named yet so I can't put a name on a face. The trail we rode most often was one I think they're calling No Joke. It starts you off on some old school steep, tight switchbacks then spits you out on to a straight away that machs you into a wide open section with A-line style jumps (according to management a top-to-bottom jump trail is in the works). After the jump section it's back into the woods for more steep techy rock drops that lead into a maze of bridgework that is as beautiful to ride as it is to look at. The trail opens up again to a fast track of jumps that leads to a massive wallride that is an honest 35ft tall. Definitely a place to break out the camera and rest for a hot minute. At this point the trail heads back into the woods for the remainder of the journey back to Dirt Merchant where you can style out the last few jumps before jumping back on the lift. The other trail we spent a lot of time on was much steeper than the first. It requires a lot of technical skill as once you start sliding down the endless slick rock you just keep falling. Definitely a trail you want to be on point for. The highlight of this trail is the massive step-up with the monster run in. If you use no brakes in the massive lead in bowl you're sure to feel uncomfortable with the massive amount of speed, but you'll love it when you softly clear the step-up. Intimidating like many of the features at Whistler, but that just makes it all the more sweeter when you clean them.

The main feature trails at Whistler are all still alive and well. Trips to Schleyer, Clown Shoes and Joyride left me fully adrenalized and not without a scratch. On my first ride down Schleyer on the first of many rock drops my Romic shock bid me a fond farewell and I was forced to walk much of the rest of the extremely techy terrain. Luckily, the good people at Whistler were nice enough to lend me a beautiful Kona Stab Garbanzo for the rest of my trip or I wouldn't have much to write about right now. The built stunts on Clown Shoes rivals the North Shore in both beauty and technicality. Huge rollers, 10ft suspended logs and massive drops are the order of the day on this double diamond run. Joyride is just that. With it's many features with gorgeous transitions, it makes it a favorite run of many. Just a tip, on the 30 ft face that's under the lift, look at your line first, you could be in for a surprise.

If straight up downhilling is your thing than look no further than Upper and Lower Whistler Downhill tracks. Starting off on a wide open straight away, this trail quickly presents the rider with several steep techy rolldowns. If speed is not checked the situation can be ugly. The trail dips back into the woods for a Mountain Creekesque section with the closest thing Whistler has a to a rock garden. Fast, fast, fast. This trail has more flow than any DH race track I've ever been on, and East Coast race designers could learn a lot.

Whistler of course is the premier place in North America and perhaps the world to freeride. With the new Garbanzo Expansion, Biker Cross course and weekly summer races and events, it's the place to be. And don't be afraid of box- do it. DO IT!

Whistler Single Track

A River Runs Through It
All great at riding in Whistler is not on the mountain. My first night at Whistler the West Coast Freeride Guides took me out trail riding at a local favorite spot, A River Runs Through It. And it does. The first major obstacle is a 50 ft log over a very cold fast river. Wide enough to clear easily, the crashing rapids and cold spray make this a very challenging opening to the trail. From the moment you leave this entrance log, 90% of the time you are on a stunt. Nothing to massive, but extremely challenging, A River Runs Through It is a great place to hone technical skills such as log rides, teeter totters, and wheelie drops. Paid local trail builders have gone so far as to build a double teeter totter that as you roll on the first half the other teeter levels and allows you to roll up on it. A great place to practice and have fun at the same time.

Some years ago a train derailed sending boxcars into a deep gully in Whistler and were never retrieved by their owner . So what have the local riders done with them? Duh, stunt them out! My friend Claudio was good enough to lend me his hardtail for the day, so his wife Cindy and dog Lexy and I went out for a ride on this wicked little trail. Trainwreck is a pedally, hard tail friendly trail that has plenty to keep you amused. Plenty of logrides, ladders and beautiful scenery keeps the ride to the train cars fun. Once your there it’s almost religious how beautiful it’s been laid out. Each car has been built on to make one of the sickest trails I’ve ever seen in my life. The trail starts as a step-up to the first car to a transitioned gap to the ground. Pedal hard into the second car’s ladder step-up as you need as much speed as you can muster to make the hip jump after it. After the hip it’s onto the last car that has another beautifully transitioned landing. If possible bring a hardtail to Whistler because you don’t want to miss out on the local secret spots.

Squamish is the reason why people have pick up trucks in B.C. With local legends who build, maintain trails and are now beginning a race series all you need is a 4×4 to ride this Mecca. I experienced Squamish with my good friends Michael and Brian at West Coast Freeride Guides. Also with us was Cove rider and 3rd place finalist at the 2003 Red Bull Rampage, Glynn O’Brien. Needless to say I was bringing up the rear of the pack.

Starting out on the 19th hole I immediately knew it was going to be a wild ride. The steep switchbacks gave way to massive roll downs and rock drops. Carefully watching everyone else cleaning these steeps, gave me confidence to plow through my fear and keep up with the pack. On to Home Brew where the stunts got progressively more massive until the gaps were 6 or 7 bike lengths long and the teeter's where approaching 30 ft (I shit you not). Glynn was the only one to attempt the most massive of the teeter totters and as he passed the fulcrum and it didn't start swinging, I was sure glad it was him and not me. A week later it started it's downward descent, but it also threw in a little lateral knuckleball action for good measure. Proving why he was 3rd place at the Red Bull last year, the man with the ball's of steel called for us all to follow. Not more than under the breath grumbling was heard.

High and Dry was a dusty open stretch that left our camel-pak's empty. A fast trail, but out in the baking Squamish sun, High and Dry allows one to really open up the throttle on an other wise tight and techy mountain. After a quick up hill climb, we were off to Deliverance. Yeah, squeal like a pig boy. Sick gappers, rock drops and more steep switchbacks were on the agenda. After we collected ourselves we shuttled in the van to a trail known as Upper Ditch Pig. For all those who saw New World Disorder and wondered if they could do that crazy 25ft plus ladders with teeters to 30 ft gappers, um no, no you can't. Well if your Glynn O’Brien you can. With little more than a quick peek at the landing, O’Brien was brapping his way through the massive stunts and enormous wooden gaps. Sick, it just makes you sick.

North Shore of Vancouver

Mt Seymour
Having ridden Mt Seymour once last year I had a taste of how much fun it is to ride the fabled North Shore. Having hooked up with Norco team rider and owner of Hoots Gear Jay Hoots at Whistler the previous weekend, we headed out to a dirt jump spot early Tuesday afternoon then headed out to Mt. Seymour. Starting on the most heavily ridden trail on the shore CBC, it wasn’t long before I was praising Banshee for blessing me with nimble Chaparral. Not knowing the trail I was often late pulling up on drops and gaps, but the 24inch rear wheel just kept saving my ass. CBC is a wonderful example of a heavily ridden trail maintained by riders. NSMB has set many of the rocks with cement to prevent trail erosion. CBC is a maze of skinny’s, teeters, and drop after drop after drop. It’s the type of trail that once you have it dialed it pretty much rides itself. I just sort of watch Hoots shred it and tried to keep up. Midway through the trail the derailleur hanger decided that it just did not want to be a part of the program anymore, thus making the Chaparral a single speed. I thought I was in trouble but believe it or not I really didn’t even notice the difference.

From CBC we ventured onto Boogeyman. A local favorite, Boogeyman lives up to it’s name. I think the most scary part of it is riding it for the first time following Pro riders who know the trail like the back of their hands. Many times I’d just find myself on a high ass 2 x 4 and just had to ride it out. My heart was up in my throat so many times that ride that I prayed to God just to get me out alive. Boogeyman is a labyrinth of big gappers, steep roll-downs and well groomed large drops. The thing is they just pop up. Do or die style. In the end I’m really glad I saw someone with some real style hit this stuff because now I have the mental picture so next time I ride it I can envision it before I try it. Mt Seymour’s main trails of CBC, Boogeyman and King Pangor are musts for any North Shore visit.

Mt. Cypress
The most raw mountain of the North Shore, Mt Cypress is not maintained by NSMB or any local riding groups. It shows in the lack of stunts, but makes up for it sheer technicality of the runs. Starting out in Whistler, by the time the West Coast Freeride Guide van pulled into the upper lot we were all pretty pumped to ride. We started out on some fast single track that quickly became large rock faces. Really smooth roll downs and some nice jumps with nice transitions. All that smooth stuff went out the window when we got to Wild Cherry or Cherry Popper as it’s called by some. The first drop in was insane. A steep enough shoot to begin with, it had a full root system winding it’s way down the only passable line. To stick your front tire into the wrong hole would mean a rough ride down 45 plus feet. The trail didn’t get any easier. Techy beyond compare and long were the two things that stuck in my mind as I squeezed my legs against the seat to rest my aching thighs for a hot second here and there. A few surprise ladders here and there, but you go to Cypress for the natural technical stuff.

I want to move to Kamloops. The riding is great and the people are just so damn cool. I met Trevor, Chuck and the boys from the Full Boar bike shop at the Ticket 2 Ride BC Chalet earlier in the week and arranged for a ride later in the week there. A three hour drive that somehow took 12 hours, Glynn O’Brien, Scott Lanzi from Ticket 2 Ride, Gary and myself piled into the rental and headed out early Wednesday morning. We became how diverse BC is as we traveled from mountainous Whistler to arid Kamloops. The natural beauty was overwhelming, leading us to stop to take in all the views and stop at a few mountain lakes here and there. We even saw some forest fires that are causing so much havoc on the interior.

We arrived in Kamloops around 5 pm, checked into our hotel and stopped by Full Boar. We had a full posse of 15 riding with us and unbelievably we all fit in Chuck’s SUV-including all of our bikes. We inched to the top of Harper and I think we were all pretty amped to hit the trails after a long day of driving. Harper is a mountain about 20 minutes North of Kamloops and is home to the 40 plus foot Jaw Drop that Bender has tried time and time again to no avail. It’s pretty fucking big for the record, so props to him. The trails are just super flowy and fast with some nice techy stuff interspersed. The size of the built stuff is impressive. Definitely designed for blasting into it, most of the woodwork is wide enough to hit at a high speed. The gaps here were truly amazing. Not Ditch Pig big, but there were just so many massive gaps, hips and wall rides, it’s no wonder how Kamloops produces the kind of riders it does. A lot of fun slope style jumps are thrown in for good measure and Harper even has a spiral wood ladder. Nice stunts at mach 5 speeds make Harper a winner.

Back to the hotel to catch a quick shower and off to a night on the town. Met up with some of the riding females of the town for a quick drink then off to bed. Carly of Full Boar was good enough to let Scott and I stay at her crib so we didn’t have to double up on beds at the motel. Big up to Carle for the futon after knowing us for about 5 hours.

Next day was Rose Hill with local riding legend Brendan Parker or IDUN and monkey style fame. I met Parker a few days earlier and he was absolutely killing it on his 243 hardtail at Whistler. The guy has mad skills and murders gaps. Chuck from Kamloops Bike Camps took us up again and was going to ride with us but unfortunately his radiator went and he had to call it. Thanks for all the support though, and if you’re looking for a sick camp to polish up your game with check out his camp through the Full Boar website.

Rose Hill is another fast track, a bit dustier than Harper. Less tree cover and more heat led to one of the hottest rides I’ve been on in my life. I must have dropped 15 pounds in sweat with full gear and a black helmet and jersey on.

Rose Hill definitely had sick stunts but were much more natural in nature. Not as much woodwork as Harper, but much bigger stuff. Huge dirt kickers to monster transitions. It was BRAP, BRAP, BRAP all day long for Glynn pinning at will, checking his speed against master ace Parker’s. Parker was so on point with transitions, that even huge stuff looked easy. Huge wall rides, big step-ups and massive gaps were the order of the day. It was also super cool to ride with such talent, and everyone was super supportive of each other. Glynn got me to rock my first sizeable gap, and without him I definitely wouldn’t have thought twice about a road gap. Big up to Glynn, Gary, Scott, Brendan, Chuck, Trevor, Carle and everyone at Full Boar for making the trip a special one.

Final Words
Traveling helps to broaden horizons and allows you access to other cultures that otherwise you would never know about. It also nice to spread the message of what your doing to others out there who may appreciate it. I think one of my favorite things to do on this trip was let people know about all the stuff that’s going on in New York and the East Coast. It was also fantastic to meet riders from a different part of the world and see how they live day in and day out and how they make riding a part of their lives. The one thing that really struck me about BC is how rich the riding culture was. So many riders who were so passionate about what they did and were more than happy to show a traveler their trails. With beautiful trails and superior riders, BC is the type of place one can really flourish if they’re serious about riding. Don’t hesitate, check it out now- everything you’ve heard is true!

Robert R.

Whistler Video
submitted by Robert, Edited by Iggy
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