Man do I love the fall! Finally the throat clogging, drivetrain eating and crash causing dust has disappeared; to be replaced by the life giving and traction granting wet dirt and mud. The Shore is a unique place to ride. As riding destinations go it is one of the few places that gets exponentially better in the wet. It always shocks me to climb up Fromme on a scorching August day to find large crowds of riders pushing through the sweat and the dehydration in order to ride down hard pack covered with natural ball bearings. Not that its a bad thing at all for people to be out riding, and I love to see it. The confusion/surprise on my behalf comes when Oct. rolls around and the rain is lightly falling and there is not a soul to be found. Well maybe thats not quite true; every winter you tend to run into the same group of people. A dedicated and enlightened group that truly recognize the greatness of riding the Shore during the winter months.
I am a huge advocate of winter riding here on the Shore, and that can put me in some folks bad books. The reason for this is a valid question of trail sustainability and stewardship. It is important to understand the impact that we, as riders, have when hooting and hollering our way through the loam and soil in wet conditions. The soil is loosely attached to the bedrock here, and during the winter that connection becomes tenuous at best. This is especially true for most of our favourite quasi legitimate trails, and we need to respect this. This is not to say we should not ride but rather that we should ride and then actively participate in trail maintenance and stewardship. The NSMBA’s Trail Academy is a resource that everyone should be looking to use. Learning what trails are especially fragile and how and when to ride them, if at all, is paramount to sustaining this beautiful network that so many people have worked so hard to create.
If you arrive at your favourite trail to see a sign posted that it is closed for the winter, don’t ride it. This is especially true IF YOU DID NOTHING TO HELP BUILD IT! Now I have been as guilty as the next rider when it comes to winter poaching. I understand the drive to ride and the fun to be had when the roost comes flying up over your shoulders. This does not mean we should be doing it. Over time it has become more and more apparent that I owe a large chunk of my happiness to those folks who have put in sweat, blood and hours (or some cases years) to create the trails I love and from which I derive my livelihood. Respect that work. There is a plethora of “safe” trails to ride during the winter months and there is tons of fun to be had. And when you’re done riding, find out where you can help. Help out at at TAP trail day, put hours in behind a shovel, get involved with the NSMBA. Use the winter to explore your riding and your ability to contribute in a concrete way to the scene we all love.
Back to the riding; the past two weeks have been some of the best I have ever had. The weather has provided us with the moisture needed to finally hit trails at full speed again. The rivers are rushing and the ability to cool down has returned. The body feels better and, most importantly, the moisture tends to silence the grindy and squeaky noises that the dust of summer has left behind. BicycleHub has been staying steady with a stream of big repairs that just never had the time to get done during the crazy race/riding schedule of the summer months. Simply stated, it is the best time to be a rider in North Vancouver. Go ride and then go help, lets make sure the Shore is a winter riding destination for years to come!