Berry and Bill left early on Monday morning and made it back to the Bay around 4 pm. I dropped Becky off at the airport at 5 am so she could fly to Boston. Nick and I had a later departure than planned due to a hitch malfunction. On the road, we passed an Airstream trailer with a load of mountain bikes heading North, maintaining in the Universe. We made it back shortly before midnight to find little traffic to impede the trailer parking.
2,483 miles for the route
3,205 total road miles
17 riding days
So what was the best part of the trip? We always like BC, and this year was no exception. We start, as usual, with Whistler and think that this is great. Next, we ride Pemberton and think that Pemberton may be better. And then we are in Squamish, and that seems like to tops them all. We finish with the granddaddy of them all—the North Shore of Vancouver. In the end, there’s no sense in choosing amongst the various places, they are all good. Next year we are thinking about 2 months.
I still believe this is the best place to get your feet wet with some “easier” North Shore style terrain. The trails get plenty of action and are well ridden in. Besides, Whistler for us has usually been dry, which makes things easier. There are great trails in Whistler—River Runs Through It and Kill Me Thrill Me–are classics. There’s also plenty more to explore there as we only hit a small portion of the trail options available. And did I mention the Bike Park?
+ Ride in Ride Out
+ Classic Trails
+ Bike Park
+ Bike Scene
+ Good mix between build-up intensive and non-build-up intensive trails
+ Plenty of non-bike entertainment possibilities
+ Lost Lake Park
– Heavily used
– The step down from the classic trails is significant, as far as we have seen
In a lot of respects, I like the terrain in Pemberton the best. There is steep, real steep, granite slab ridding that is incomparable. The connections between the granite rock sections are feral, underutilized, and sweet. All of these trails are tucked into the beautiful, glacier carved Pemberton Valley.
The one downside to Pemberton is that I’d think we’d run out of trails to ride in 4 or 5 days there (assuming that we didn’t add some of the legendary double black diamonds like Cop Killer into the mix). The upside is that the 4 or 5 days before we ran out of trails would be about as good as it gets.
+ Great trails
+ Super steep
+ Feral and remote feel
+ Beautiful scenery
+ Close to services in the Whistler Valley
– Somewhat limited number of trail options
– Limited non-bike food and entertainment options in Pemberton
Squamish is like the poor forgotten cousin of the North Shore riding scene. The town is a working class stop on the road between Vancouver and Whistler that markets itself as the adventure capitol of Canada. What makes Squamish remarkable is it’s trail system. The area claims to have more trails than roads, and I can easily believe it. It seems to me, that, if you lived in Squamish, you could ride in and out of your house for two months and not cover all of the trail options available on the map, not to mention the many unmapped options. Beyond the quantity, the quality of the trails is high, each reflecting the personality of the trail builders and offering substantially different trail experiences. Of the BC choices, this is where I would want to live if I just wanted to ride from the house.
+ The extensive trail network
+ Ride in ride out options
+ Trail personality, creativity in the layout
+ The challenge
+ Feral and remote feel while still being close to town
+ Bike shops
– Food and entertainment options
The granddaddy of them, all, the North Shore of Vancouver packs a wallop. Trails-wise, the North Shore has the most consistently challenging, stable trails I’ve seen anywhere. Some of the trails are remarkable feats of engineering that make them useable under all sorts of conditions. Perhaps it’s because it has been wet every time I visit, the Shore’s trails are the hardest and most intense for me to ride. It’s a place that after riding for 4 days, you need a mental break even more so than a physical one so you can maintain the edge. If you lived at the base of Mt. Fromme or Mt. Seymour, you couldn’t help but become an incredibly strong rider. Either that, or you would be wheelchair bound.
+ Trail construction
+ Food and entertainment of a World Class City
– Lacks the remote, wilderness feel
– Hard place to ride in ride out at, even if you live there, as the Mt. Fromme and Mt. Seymour aren’t right next to each other.
OK, I’ll admit it. Riding Oregon after BC is a let down for everyone that went to the North Shore. This year it was better, as I needed a break after the last few days in North Vancouver.
I liked all the rides in Oakridge this year. Though there is a certain sameness to the trails, they all have that sweet, narrow-band, remote singletrack feel. Randy’s shuttle was also great. If I had to climb the gravel roads for these trails, it would have gotten old real quick.
+ Remote, feral trails under the forest canopy
+ The shuttle
+ Long, epic rides possible
– Oakridge has minimal services
– Most of the technical challenge comes from super tight switch backs, minimal rock and root challenge
– Trail variety
I’ll include the MRT under Bend, since it is closer to Bend than Oakridge. The McKenzie River Trail is one of those trails that everyone can agree on—it’s one of the best trails anywhere. The other rides in Bend are fun, also, though I always come away with the feeling that we’ve left so much more on the table.
+ Easy climbs
+ Very long rides
+ Really cool town
+ Ripping fast crank and bank trails
+ Ride in ride out possibilities (though not real practical from the RV park)
– Modest technical challenge
– Trail variety
– Trails tend to be wider at the base and more exposed (in Bend)