There are mountain-bike trail systems whose notoriety brand them as destinations, places you just have to ride one day. Over the years, I’ve had the chance to ride a few of these iconic spots, mostly in the USA. Moab, Utah; Marin County, California; all over Colorado and many more. Being an Ontario boy, I longed for the day I would ride Canada’s most famous trail system, The North Shore, in North and West Vancouver, British Columbia. On Friday, a dream came true. Led by experienced local riders Andrew(with whom I work), Andy and Matt, I was shown the Mount Seymour Trails. As my tires hit the single-track, Andrew yelled “Welcome to the North Shore!” Instantly, I was transported to another world, feeling right at home.
The dense Coastal Temperate Rainforest provides a setting like no other for riding. Life was bursting everywhere. Immense trees centuries old towered high above, covered with thick mosses. The ground filled with loam, soft and deep with huge granite boulders and slabs asserting themselves equally. Everything was moist, lush and alive, the air thick with the sounds of the forest.
The climbs were filled with steep, tight yet manageable switchbacks, though many were rocky and technical. Ladder bridges connected to the smooth hollow of ancient trees, weaving me between those still standing. The descents were at times fast and flowey, at other moments incredibly technical with rocks, roots, drops and intimidating granite roll-outs. I was on the edge of my comfort zone more than once and walked a few features, I’m not ashamed to say. There were lines myself and Isabelle could hit, others that demanded a big ole’ full-suspension bike with a dropper post. It’s not surprising this terrain spawned an entire style of riding, freeride. The reputation this destination holds certainly is well-deserved.
The second my wheels hit the trail and I looked up at the canopy of trees, my heart swelled and my eyes brightened. Despite riding trails I’d never seen before, I immediately felt at peace. They say that home is not a place, but a state of mind. You know, the moment I hit the single-track, I got that comforting feeling of being at home. Nothing quite like it. Welcome to the North Shore, indeed.