Posted July 9, 2004
Riding the short bus on the North Shore

Yesterday my man Mark Fitsimmons and I rolled down to Vancouver for some of that "North Shore" action we've all heard so much about. Visions of myself 10 feet above a tangle of roots, with only a baseball bat to balance upon, kept me awake the night before. I've been riding most of the Whistler stunts (with great trepidation), but the videos make the North Shore seem way more "extreme" and "hard core."

The plan
We were supposed to meet 11 characters at the new Cove Bikes building at noon, then bust out some shuttles on Mount Seymour. We arrived at 12:10 and began waiting. People straggled in from all parts of the northern hemisphere. Bikes were built. People were called. People waited. We finally mobilized at around 3:30.


Mark checks out an RMX at Cove's storefront.

Check out the little washer to keep people from crushing the bearing.

New Cove bikes await their fates.

I used the bathroom three times. It could have been the Diet Coke, the enlarged prostate or the bathroom decor.


The ultimate shuttle vehicle
This 1981 GMC bus used to haul patients to and from the local insane asylum. The front half held wheelchairs. Now it holds bikes. The benches used to carry lunatics. Now they carry freeriders. Well, never mind.

Time to ride!
After the bus disgorged us at the trail head, we dove into CBC Trail. Rocks, roots and tight turns made this one of the most technical trails I've ever ridden. We rolled and pumped along, pretty slowly, until we reached the first bridge.

Gulp. Eyes forward. Hold your speed. Stay loose.

Bridges are a total mind trip. They're no harder than sticking a 3-inch-wide line in a rock garden, but the elevation -- yikes! Everything I committed to, I rode perfectly. Everything I tried half-assed, I slipped off of. As that Yoda guy said, "Do. Or do not. There is no try."


Mark rolls down a CBC bridge.

Jared takes it to the skinny stuff.

Me, Lee, winning the slow race.


As we switchbacked down the wall of a narrow valley, a log cut across to the other side, eliminating two corners in the process. I was like, no way, the race line is a friggin' log! So I followed Fitzy across, then we dropped down a little side notch, rolled over a wedge of muddy rocks (no brakes!) and cranked through a berm made of two-by-fours. If the berm wasn't there, we'd have blown off the hill. Too cool.

  

Miles Mead, fast Aussie guy.

Mark pilots his prototype Fox downhill fork. He manages Fox's race team.
Lee Likes Freeriding dot com


The videos make these trails seem like 100 percent man-made gnar, but they consist mostly of natural gnar: slick roots, jumbly rocks, stone steps and loose logs. I was running flat pedals on my Demo 9, and I slipped, bounced and corrected my way through sinuous tech sections and down superfast rockfalls. Our group contained a couple hot groms and a World Cup downhiller, Miles Mead. Chasing these goofballs was excellent fun. When Ned's Atomic Dustbin turned pure DH, the freehuckers got reeled in and we racers showed our stuff. Unfortunately, it was too fun to stop and take pictures.

Now that I've survived those trails, I look forward to trying some (slightly) sicker Shore trails, and to riding Whistler's stunts a bit less like a little girl.

Rock out!
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