Four Mountains in Four Days: Tokul, North Fork, North Shore, Galbraith
Clean bikes and showered bodies
When everyone else is crouched along course sidelines and crowded at finish lines, the mountain trails in these parts lie quiet for the taking. The long weekend—which we extended into the week—provided three options: the Super D race in Hood River (with Billy riding); the Fluid Ride Cup in Whistler (with everyone else we know), or multiple days of pure uninterrupted shredding in the mountains scattered around the NW. We chose to ride. With the stillness so luring in those hills, how could we not? Thoughts of picking perfect lines through rocks, roots and drops made the mind salivate.
So the idea quickly emerged: four mountains in four days. Car camping. Camp fires. Booze. Roadtrip chats. Cheap. Fun. Freedom. The trip unfolded like perfectly-uplanned schemes do.
Somewhere outside Bellingham
We rode: Tokul on Saturday, shuttled the North Fork on Sunday, rode the North Shore in B.C. on Monday—we had to stop by Race Face in Vancouver to pick up gear for testing, anyway—and were back at Galbraith on Tuesday. At each mountain, we pedaled out just after a storm had passed through, or cruised back in right as one set in. Soaked with late-spring rain, the trails were greasy, sloppy and slick. Fortunately we’d packed trash bags and lots of towels.
Some of this was new terrain to us. The North Fork—which we rode with Andy, Ted and Nelson— is steep-technical and twisty. Constant drops that make you descend all that much quicker. Open in parts and nice berms that sweep you up and place you oh, so nicely in fast single track that sends you down, down, down through tight trees and hairy turns. Swamps were everywhere and the skinnies made you want to tip-toe across for fear of sliding off in the slickness. With the shuttle truck, rides weren’t interrupted with long push-ups, so we rode until we collapsed.
The North Shore is a different experience. It’s NW in climate, but technical to a new level. Or an old one, as we were on Mt. Fromme where you ride the beginning of it all. Where you huck to flat, and where flow isn’t a term the trail builders incorporated back in the day. Here, sharp-rock-paved trails traverse, roll and sharply descend forever. Ancient roots are the size of mountains. It’s all constant technical; consistent brain chatter. In the rain, it’s even gnarlier. But it’s beautiful. It’s misty like the pictures portray. And it’s savage. Quiet, empty and waiting for you to test your skill. Everything’s high-consequence, but then too, high-reward.
Our times before and after rides were filled with urban exploration and inhibited chatter. After The Shore, with legs aching, we rested in the evening still of a wave-lapped park shore, watching the sun set over the fringe of North Vancouver. We couldn’t have picked a better place to park our car-turned-backpack-turned-mobile-home over night. Near the Lions Gate Bridge, Billy found the ideal park to make our simple bike trip more rounded, more—peaceful adventure.
Tuesday morning, we crawled out of the Subaru, which had dew dappling the inside as well as out, and made our way down to Race Face to check out the digs, tour their manufacturing house and pick up gear that we’ll be putting to the test with ultimate scrutiny. (More on that to come.) Behind the scenes there, we met the great individuals who make up a dedicated—and thus, innovative—company. They’ve put heavy emphasis and R&D into their two-year-old women’s line and I’m excited to see how it performs. Thanks to Wendy, Julian, and Ian for making us feel at home.
We finished up this wee shred trip back at Galby late Tuesday afternoon—after getting searched by customs for the firewood we were toting back. With creaking bikes, caked in mud and arguing muscles, we pushed up and cruised down, checking out a newly cut trail.
It’s always good to start the season off with trip. It’s gets the soul stoked and the legs ready to ride more mountains in more days.