29 August 2015

Out for a rip on Vancouver Island

Over the past month I have been kickin it  here in Canada. I have my mountain bike and borrowed an old Chevy van. Just cruising. Attending a few music festivals along the way, meeting a whole lot of rad people, and doing skids in some awesome places, Vancouver Island is great! Out of the dozens of people I meet along the way and at music festivals and trails, I found a couple of key people who hooked me up by either coming out for a ride and being my guide or setting me up with some cool people to go ride with.

We had our teething problems but after an afternoon of being a little hot, the old girl was my best friend!

Starting out riding at a local spot in Victoria called heartland, I already feel in love with the riding here. Cool rock chutes, a good ratio of groomed to un-groomed trails, and sweet jumps! Sofa King being one of the most fun. It was here where I met Ted. He was great for beta and invited me on multiple riding trips and gave me the contacts to people to go ride with.

The view from the top of Tzouhalem

From Victoria I made my way north stopping in at Mt Tzouhalem which is in Duncan. Here lies some super fun riding on trails like Double Dees, Bumblebees, Resurrection, some fast, fun and steep ridge trail, and my favourite trails on the island which was a free ride trail called Loam Line. Vince, my go to guy for this area was a buddy I met at one of the festivals. It took a couple of rides out with him before he really showed my the goods. We set a shuttle and embarked on a 3 hour ride with over 1000m of climbing and even more descending, views of Maple Bay and the Cowachin Valley, jumps, drops, steeps, skids and dust! All of this was finished off with delicious beer and a meal at a pub at the bottom of the hill.

One of the many fun features on the hill

The next stop north was a town called Nanaimo. Ted had given me a guys number so I followed it up and got in touch with Darren. He turned out to be a bit of a cross country fiend and took me (panting like an over-cooked dog) around Westwood Lake. This area was pretty fun and I really didn't know what to expect. Lucky for me my bike is all round awesome so I didn't have too much trouble keeping up. We did eventually climb up to a cool view point before getting a really steep descent straight down a rock face which was great but over way to quick. Before I knew it we were back at the lake and it was time for a quick swim and time to go find a spot to camp for the night.

A view from the top of the big rock over looking Westwood Lake

The next spot I hit was still Nanaimo and the area was the Dumont Rd Trails. This place was confusing as hell so it was my turn to either go and get lost or be that awkward guy sifting at a trail head ready to ride at the drop off a hat if the right person came along to either give me some direction or let me follow them around. Thankfully it was option 2. I was lucky because this was a very confusing and poorly marked network. Jeff, a fire fighter on a fat bike provided a back wheel for me to follow here. It was fun but I've never had to concentrate on not clipping my bars on every trail all the time before. Bar hunters everywhere! The 780's were detrimental for sure! Before I knew it we were on the one requested/recommended trail in the place, Monkeys In The Mist. That was a pretty fun trail and had a bunch of weird jumps and rickety old structures and it was all smiles at the bottom. From here it was time to head to Cumberland.

Fred Flintstone rippin round Cumberland!

Again, for Cumberland all I had was a friend of a friend and so I walked into the bike shop where this fella worked, asked for Steve, said that Vince from Duncan had sent me. I got heaps of shit for being a Kiwi and whether my deck was sealed or not (Deck sealant commercial) and then Chris speaks up and said that he was who I was looking for. Here I bought a map and Chris showed me some good options for trails to ride. This place is just exploding with new trails every year so the bike shop is your only real option for an up to date map. I went for a hoon here by myself and had a blast, then I went back into the shop to see Chris and try make a time to go for a rip.

One of the good views looking down the Comox Valley just before dropping into the goods of Cumberland.

The trail network in Cumberland was incredible. There were great trails to climb on that kept you on your toes and in the shade, the descents were ultra fun and fast and full of steep, rooty, rocky and bermy goodness. The best part of all of this was, it was a block from the main street. This made finding a beer at the end of the ride really easy at the local brewery! 

Everyone was having too much fun and moving too fast to take any riding photos so I didn't even bother.

Cumberland was an incredible area with one side of town full of trial riding, the beautiful Comox Lake at the head of town, then down hill trails from Forbidden Plateau on the other side of town with a sweet swimming spot in the river at the bottom of the hill. Cumberland gets five stars! I ended up spending a week here. The first few days I hung out at a music festival called Atmosphere Gathering which took up the first few days. Once that was over the incredible riding and lake time took up the rest of my time. 

Enjoying the view and some shade for a few moments before dropping into found link.

Spending just two weeks on the road was enough but I could have easily kept going. Other places like Port Alburni or Hornby Island which are more places that are meant to have incredible riding. 

The bike is getting a rest and the next adventure is just around the corner..

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