When Mountain Biking UK's Andrew Dodd (Doddy) first mailed me and asked if I wanted to do a feature on a British Columbia Bike Park Tour, I thought he was joking.
Let's just say I didn’t need to be asked twice. The next week me and my partner in crime - and MBUK’s hottest new photographer Mason ‘Mahony’ Mashon - met with Ticket2Ride's head honcho Pete Amory to chat about the specifics of the tour: one day in Mount Washington, home of Bearclaw's Invitational, two days in Silver Star and two days in Sun Peaks.
Sounded like the makings of a damn fine road trip to me.
So when we embarked from Ticket2Ride's main chalet on Friday bound for the 6:55 p.m. ferry to Vancouver Island and onto Mt Washington, we were rather excited about the trip that lay before us. The ferry ride was sick, the golden hour struck and the temperate rainforest that lines the mountains of coastal British Columbia was glowing green as mist descended into the distant valleys.
By the time we drove the last two hours up to Mount Washington everyone was ready for a beer. To our dismay, however, the bar had already shut: it was only 9:30! Luckily the T2R guys came prepared with a cooler full of beer, with chatting of crashes, killer trails and misadventures on two wheels continuing into the small hours.
Morning broke with the sound of a mass mosquito genocide at the hands of Mahony: “16 SMACK!,17 SMACK!, 18,19, 20...SMACK-SMACK-SMACK!”
Back to bikes and the unloading began. For this trip I rode the new Evil Revolt downhill bike, company's first full suspension bike using the new Dave Weagle-designed Delta link, probably the best downhill bike I have ridden to date.
As part of the MBUK Wrecking Crew I get to test a lot of bikes, and now I live in Whistler, fertile grounds for downhill riding to say the least; you can believe me when I say this bike was something special.
Mason was on a Yeti 303 RDH, the Colorado company's slimmed-down 303, a single pivot with a rail to keep the shock travel linear. Aimed at tracks with more berms and jumps as opposed to super technical rock ridden downhill tracks, the 303 RDH is all about fun.
Mount Washington has two high-speed chairs allowing access to 37km of trails. We started off with what we thought was a mellow run from our apartment down to the chair, rolling through a few little tabletops and onto what appeared to be some form of wooden drop. The lack of any signage led us to believe it would be small and so no need for a brake check we rolled into a 10-foot drop to a loose landing.
Laughing to ourselves as we rolled onto the lift ready to sample Mount Washington’s goods, we enjoyed a menu of flowy jumps trials, high-speed G-out berm runs and steep tech downhill which litter the lower mountain.
We hooked up with local rider Kyle Hansen, who took us on a blind top-speed run down Wizard, a trail littered with wall rides, 15-foot drops, big doubles and Mach 10 roller coaster berm sections.
Now, riding behind a local at a hot lap pace on a trail you’ve never ridden before isn’t the best idea and I wouldn’t recommend it ... but it's damned good fun. After some lunch we got down to shooting pics for the up-and-coming BC Bike Parks feature in MBUK.
After a very successful afternoon of shooting with Kyle and Mason we headed to the bar for a couple of quiet beers. Unfortunately Mount Washington lacks a little of the nightlife. In fact, if you're not riding your bike there’s very little to do: you have the choice of a pub or general store, so it’s either over-priced beige pub food or something vacuum-packed and microwaveable from the store.
In my humble opinion, they need to get some more amenities to keep people in the village. But the riding is sublime, which is what matters most, right?