More thoughts on Canadian “technical” trail building:
It’s not because I didn’t ride “the gnarly trails.” If anything those would be even worse, with the steep fast bits being even steeper and faster, and the violent, awkward, jolting 90 corner at the bottom being even more violent, awkward, and jolting. It’s called momentum, guys. If you designed the trails in 1998 when bikes had 2 inches of suspension and surviving a four foot rock roll was the highlight of your year, you probably didn’t give two shits about carrying speed. Your whole goal was probably losing speed while somehow not dying. But it’s 2015 now, I have 8-inch disk brakes, 2.5″ tires, and lots of quality suspension so I can stop. Somehow I’m just not seeing the joy in going from two miles an hour up to 15 and then back to two 800 times in one descent.
Now I understand why people come down to Oregon or Washington and ride trails that we think are boring and say how amazing they were. I can only imagine that these people have never gone downhill unencumbered at a rapid, sustained rate in their entire lives. Hearing stories from Canadians who rode boring, vanilla places like Oakridge and came back raving makes me weep for those poor souls who’ve never enjoyed momentum before. It’s pretty simple guys. Downhill = momentum = fun. If you can keep the trail pointed downhill instead of weaving all over creation, it’s pretty fun.
Oakridge is pretty boring and half-assed and yet people from Canada consistently come back raving about how mind-blowing the trails are. You could have this too, Canadians, if you gave a moment’s thought to maintaining momentum in your trail building (in between ripping bong hits, devaluing your currency, and talking about “the good old days in college when Sublime was still at the top of their game and Green Day hadn’t sold out yet”).
And we’re riding a shuttle-accessed trail system up here. I saw people out there on downhill bikes. I can only imagine what that poor bastard from Langley was suffering through on every run with his 9.5 inch travel 41 pound 26 inch wheel Intense M9. I’m on a shorter travel sub-30 pound 29er and the flat, awkward bits are still awful. If you ever wondered why “Shore bikes” like the Norco VPS range and the Kona Stinky’s from 1999-2009 all had high BB’s, short top tubes, and steep head angles, it’s because the average speed on this trail system is about four mph, with top speeds somewhere in the 12-14 mph range.
My biked sucked to ride until I took 13 psi out of the rear shock and opened up the compression to Descend mode. I started the day in trail 3 mode, then trail 2, then trail 1, then full descend mode, then I took 13 psi out and left it in descend mode. There are exactly three other trails in the universe I’ve ever run my shock in descend mode for, but it still wasn’t soft enough for the snail’s pace thrashing that my bike was taking yesterday. Add to that mix a toxic cocktail of high tire pressure to keep from flatting on all the rock ledges you have to run into… and it was awesomely slow and awkward.
I didn’t know you could make trails that were so rough while simultaneously being so slow until I came to the North Shore. Bravo.