“THE OUTLAW SPORT”
Photos by Sterling Lorence
The history and legacy of trail building in Vancouver’s North Shore mountains is incredible, few places on earth have had as much impact on the mountain biking community as this Canadian mecca. With its perfect dirt and dense trees – the trails were built with whatever they could find lying around the woods.
The progressive nature of these trails started pushing the limits of mountain biking in the 1980’s and encountered their fair share of obstacles along the way. Skinny wooden bridges and rock slab rolls were the features of choice for the original trail builders in the area.
“It began in the 1980’s when Digger and his buddies spent hours in the woods making these trails for a sport that didn’t even exist yet.” – Geoff
Originally, the North Shore district was against mountain biking for years. Mountain bikers were seen as adrenaline junkies tearing up the forest. It took until 1997 for these trails and cycling to be recognized as a valid user group who have the best interest in the land.
“The district was super against mountain biking for a long time, I can’t even imagine the stress of builders back then being labeled as the “bad guys”. With all the crack-downs we needed to get organized and finally in 1997 the North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA) was formed.” – Geoff
With the North Shore Mountain Bike Association working together alongside land management teams and local government officials, a symbiotic relationship between mountain bikers and land has evolved to be one of the most impressive networks of trails in the world.
“North Vancouver is an interesting situation because you have wilderness lands right in the backyard of a massive community. When the trail building community looks at the side of a mountain, they see a blank canvas ripe for opportunity. But when a land manager looks at that, they see a mosaic of land with competing interests, rights, existing titles – those are all the things being balanced.” – John Hawkins, Director of rec sites & trails
Although the rogue building has subsided, there will always be people who push against the grain of regulation. At the end of the day most cyclists also have the best interest of the land and people who manage it.
“You can have all the sanctioned trails in the world, but there will always be rogue builders out there building something for themselves. It’s more or less black-market mountain biking. Everyone knows exactly where it is, but nobody talks about it. “ – Geoff
With the help of the entire community of builders, riders and government the hopes are to have these trails around for future generations to enjoy.
“My hope is that I made some fun trails and brought smiles to people’s faces. That’s what I want my legacy to be like.” – Todd “Digger” Fiander, trail builder