Living in Squamish, BC, which recently stole the title of Mountain Bike Capital of Canada from Rossland, BC (a different story for a different time), one tends to get a bit spoiled. We have a massive network of trails and our local advocacy group, SORCA is constantly working to open up new trails and maintain old ones. Squamish also happens to be home to some of the most infamous trail builders to have ever run a shovel, Big Red Ted, Paddy Kaye, Rob Croyqut of Gravity Logic and locals’ favorite father and son duo Dave and Griffen Reid. Gravity Logic built that little place called Whistler Bike Park, which we happen to be only 30 minutes away from. Not to keep rubbing it in but we are just down the road from Pemberton as well, and nothing beats Pemberton after a fall or spring rain.
If you are still reading this, it is pretty clear that we are spoiled, but this all has a dark side…crowds.
Like sharks with the scent of blood, when riders from out-of-town get a whiff of new trails the teeth come out, the loam gets ‘schralped’ and the mineral soil becomes exposed.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of mountain bike tourism, especially in Squamish. It’s a cycle that only has positive benefits, as more people come and enjoy our trails there is more money to re-invest back into our trail infrastructure, ipso-facto more trails for everyone!
‘Loam’ – there is no better example of a depreciating asset in the world of MTB. Knowing that with every ride down a new trail the loam degrades, and each subsequent run will never be as good as the previous run. It’s this intrinsic quality of loam that makes it so interesting, searching for it and riding it is the mountain bike equivalent of ‘Chasing the Dragon.’ So when Dustin asked if I wanted to head to ride one of the loamiest trails he had ever ridden, obviously I was in. It was time for us to be the sharks, hunting the new trail…
With Vancouver B.C and Seattle W.A so close there is a constant flow of mountain bikers heading North on HWY99 to Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton etc. Dustin and I were going against the flow, driving south on the 99 and then east on the 1 to Chilliwack.
I had heard of Vedder for several years now, but knowing it was two hours away I had always written it off like a true Sea to Sky snob. This time going against the flow felt right, like we knew something no one else did. Pulling up into an empty parking lot was a welcome change from our local trailheads.
“Sometimes I think Half Nelson needs a parking attendant. Vedder, there wasn’t a car in the lot…Save for that newer Range Rover we saw that had been stolen and burned to the ground”
Dustin Adams was Canada’s top DH racer 10 years ago, before Stevie Smith and Finn Isles, Dustin was our Great Northern Hope.
I wouldn’t say Trusty Dusty has slowed down any since his racing days; the current crop has just gotten faster.
"Vedder has had me thinking it might be time to relocate to the Valley, something I never thought I would have caught myself saying. But this place is a hidden gem and is the equivalent to Kamloops and Squamish having a baby. Vedder would be the offspring of such a thing"
Vedder is located on the shores of Cultus Lake in Chilliwack, within the Fraser Valley and about an hour east of Vancouver. The surrounding Coast Mountains provide contrast to the lush farmer’s fields in the valley bottom. The Fraser Valley is home to several riding areas with Vedder being the most prominent.
The rain forest here is thick, dense and is a healthy mix between foreboding and inviting. Once in the woods however, the trail network is extremely varied with something for everyone. The trails are framed with beautiful big trees and surrounded by huge green Sword ferns.
"Riding Vedder with Kevin had me on my toes all day and had me laughing to myself about just how much loam kept flying up with each turn of the bike. Dirt showers were staple for the day! Conditions could not have been any better"
Advanced riders have some incredible black and double black diamond trails to explore, but where Vedder really shines is the sheer number of blue trails. The Blue trails here are inviting for the intermediate riders and provide the advanced guys the opportunity to really ‘open it up’. There is a healthy mix of bermed corners, fun jumps, drops and some ladder bridges to keep you on your toes.
The trail we chose to focus on for this edit is the loam fest called Black Hawk Down, built by Ali Chappel. Ali knows how ride, you can tell from his trail work. Corners in all the right places, perfect pitch, lips everywhere and great sightlines. I have never ridden with Ali but I doubt I could keep up…
“Watching the weather as our shooting window approached, there was a chance of light rain on the horizon; it was shaping up to be the ‘perfect storm’, fresh trail with a few millimeters of rain. In true B.C fashion the light rain was more of a deluge, we arrived to a dry hill…except for the 4 inches of mud covering everything.”
Dustin and I decided to ride a couple laps of some of the older trails, hoping the morning sun would begin to dry things out. As the water started to evaporate and the steam rose in the coastal woods it was prime time for Black Hawk Down.
Dropping into Black Hawk was slick- in fact the first half of that trail was some of the slickest conditions I have ridden to date. It also happened to be one of the best trails I have to date. Disregarding the top layer of slop that made traction just a thing we joked about, Black Hawk Down was a riot. Loam and dirt flying everywhere, foot-out moto turns, and smiles from ear to ear. This little line through the woods is a literal masterpiece.
On second thought, disregard this entire article. We didn’t ride Vedder, it sucks there, and you wont like it. I wouldn’t recommend going I doubt you would ever even find a parking spot…
SCOTT Sports, TOPO Films, Dustin and I would like to extend a big thank you to Ali Chappel for the phenomenal work on your trail.
Photography: Margus RigaWords: Kevin Landry