I went up to Vancouver last weekend and went for a ride on the North Shore
with Kris. After seeing many videos and hearing stories, it was great to
finally see this amazing place for myself. The weather was perfect
(according to Kris: raining off and on, dark, humid, warm, dripping water
everywhere etc). You start riding from the bottom up a fireroad that
switchbacks up the hill. The trails go from one switchback down to another
meaning you can’t really get lost. There are dozens though, some labeled,
most not. Finding your way around without a knowledgeable local would be
difficult. We went up to the top (maybe 800’ elevation gain), then went
down a series of trails, connected together by a little riding on the
lower switchbacks. That was one “lap”, and may not sound like much, but it
took at least 3 hours and was strenuous - the downhill much more than the
uphill. Kris says that two “laps” in a day is hard and he’s done three a
couple of times.
While there are lots of intimidating structures, there are also plenty of
sections that are more rideable. But these had lots of drops, diagonal
slippery roots, rocks and other things to avoid that make even the easiest
North Shore trails I rode harder than our local Santa Cruz “technical”
trails. The big structures (or stunts) are … hard to describe. You’ve
seen them on video, but they are different in real life. Everything looks
worse than it is because of the water. It appears so slippery as to be
completely impossible. But the combination of the type of wood and the
chickenwire and other friction stuff applied at critical places makes it
actually less slippery than it looks. But some of them are WAY up in the
air! Much scarier than a video or photo can show. Watching Kris ride these
right in front of me, with such confidence and focus, was really
The amount of construction work the locals have done is just staggering.
They are very careful about runoff and drainage, sometimes installing
large amounts of rock to avoid erosion. I was glad to find that riding the
low-to-the-ground ladder bridges was quite possible. I even rode one (of
the widest) fallen trees.
The “State of the art” keeps progressing. Kris would describe one section
as “State of the art for 2 years ago”. State of the Art for late 2001 is
mind-blowing! Look at my pictures of the latest stunt: The Ridiculator.
One part near the end is still under construction, so it isn’t completely
rideable yet. I can imagine learning to ride many of the structures there,
but not this one, ever. In fact I’d wager that only something like one
person in a thousand would be willing to walk the whole Ridiculator. Or
less. I just hope that when the inevitable happens (someone dies), these
amazing creations are not demolished.
The other project for the weekend was recording narration for Unizaba.
That was a lot of work and gave me more respect for actors and others who
have to deliver lines. See http://www.beyondgravity.net/unizaba for the
If you ever get a chance to visit the Mecca of hardcore riding, take it!