Spontaneous trips are my favourite, and 10 days before Christmas California was calling my name! I couldn’t find anyone able to join me on such short notice so I went down solo and don’t regret a second of it. Right before my week-long adventure down south, I had one more exam to write. The sky was full of colour that morning during the drive to school.
Island View Sunrise
Like many people who grew up on Vancouver Island, I hold a bit of a grudge against BC Ferries. As awesome as living on the Island is, traveling by car gets expensive. So I tried giving the Washington state Ferry a chance for the first time. This is a cheaper and more direct route down south from Sidney BC to Anacortes WA. I highly recommend this ferry and it’s also a great way to avoid border lines ups!
18 hours later I arrived in Scott’s Valley, CA at the Fogelquist residence. Despite the long drive down south I hadn’t escaped the rain yet. So Jack Fogelquist and I braved the wet conditions and headed for the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Foggy Downhill Laps
The conditions were foggy, slippery, and very wet. Riding Santa Cruz in the rain is way different than riding on the North Shore in the wet. The high clay content turns the forest floor into a mud pit, it’s like surfing on slick muddy singletrack. We kept trail conditions in mind and stuck to a rockier trail called “Crack Shack”.
Fogel hitting a little hip on the side of Crack Shack
Weather cleared up the next day and it was looking promising throughout the week. All the dirt jump spots were too wet still so we sessioned the Scott’s Valley sand step-up.This jump was awesome for getting tricks dialed in.
Flat spin 360 on the Step Up – Jack Fogelquist
Day 3 was perfect. We woke up to sunshine and dry conditions.
What mountain biker wouldn’t be excited to wake up to this in December?
Santa Cruz local and shredder Ray George invited us to his jumps. These are in such a unique spot! The line consists of a single row of jumps running alongside a river behind some housing development and the dirt was amazing- zero rocks or roots. It was a treat riding here.
Ray George has style for days
Ray leading me through the set. Photo Jack Fogelquist
Part way through the session Jack noticed a hair line crack in his frame, so he ended up filming us ride instead. Later that night Ray called up Jesse Nickel to fix up Jack’s bike. Jesse is the man! He welded up my frame 3 years ago when Justin Wyper, Mitch Chubey, and I went down to Santa Cruz. He’s also a local land developer and one of the people responsible for keeping the legendary Post Office jumps alive.
Jesse welding the head tube- a nice mig weld should do the trick!
The next couple days consisted of all-time sessions at the Post Office riding with all the local Aptos shredders like R-dog, Cam McCaul, Greg Watts, etc. This quickly got me back in shape on my hardtail.
Post Office Jumps: riding here more than a few days out of the year would be a dream
Once 4pm comes around everyone knows to show up and session for the final hour of daylight. This is when the best sessions go down.
Fogel tailwhipping through the set
My final day down in Santa Cruz was a rainy one. Jack and I finished up some Christmas shopping and I headed back North early the next morning. The conditions were looking pretty snowy on the I-5 near the California/ Oregon border so I decided to take my time and drive up along the California coast.
The Redwood Highway provides amazing views
Winter welcomes me in Grants Pass, Oregon
My short but awesome time down in Santa Cruz was 100% worth it, I cant wait to visit again!
It’s every Canadian dirt jumper’s dream to do a pilgrimage to Aptos in the winter. Mark got after it with this quickie between semesters… what’d you get up to over the holidays?
Going way way back, 2012 AIRprentice Mark Matthews shot and edited this video in 2007. He’d hurt himself and decided to pick up his camera and get bromantic on the Coast. It stands quite nicely next to his recent Super 8 Saturdays project.
Riders are: Andrew Sherry, Jarrett Moore, Curtis Robinson, Dylan Dunkerton, Brendan Howey, Jon Fitzsimmons, Strahan Loken, Luke Fulton, and Ken Perras.
Curtis rocking the old red NSMB jersey with a sick boost to roost at 1:20… don’t miss it.
How ’bout that for a trip back in time on the Coast?
Words by Stephen Matthews Photos by Stephen Matthews
December 18th, 2012
I’ve spent a great deal of time this season trying to learn the ins and outs of the North Shore mountains. I’m nowhere near informed; in fact I’m fairly positive I’ve barely even scratched the surface. The history on each mountain appears to have given them their own identities, and so for me as an outsider, I found it incredibly intriguing.
Sometimes the trail isn’t the only thing you’re after.
One thing I’ve discovered is on the Shore, it’s really easy to give up elevation quickly, and sometimes without much reward. Spinning up to the entrance of some of the most famous trails in mountain biking and being underwhelmed with the descent can be incredibly deterring. Over the past few years I’ve made some great friends who are long time Shore locals and absolutely rave about the place, so I went exploring and am happy to confirm, I found the appeal.
But without a good link-up of trails, you might not have the best time out there.
This season has been incredible up on the local mountains and the success of my time up there has been result of putting in the effort to unlock the terrain. Admiring the features displayed on topographic maps, combined with plenty of hiking, failed descents, and wrong turns, I’m happy to say I’ve managed to put together a few link ups that satisfy my riding needs.
Shady instagrams don’t make up for wasted elevation.
I was having lunch with Wade Simmons last week, and he jokingly asked the ultimate loaded question, “So you’re a local now?” I thought carefully about my response considering the nature of the question, who was inquiring, and the variety of answers I’d overheard living in the transient town of Whistler. I replied, “I only got my BC driver’s license this month, Wade. But I’m doing my best to maximize my time in the woods.”
Putting in time.
So I ask you, the people of NSMB, what are your favourite link ups? Executioner – Dreamweaver? Or maybe Executioner – Dreamweaver – St. Mary’s – Dempsey Climb – BP – up Griffin – King of the Shore – and so forth, and so on. Or maybe you’re a 7th Secret – Ladies Only – BP kinda guy. Or maybe you’re too “loc dawg” for this entire article and will skip answering because the mountains move for you.
Riding with friends is a great way to find new loops.
Let’s hear it, what’s your North Shore loop?!
Stephen’s experience with the North Shore learning curve is not uncommon… so as he said, what’s your loop?!
Mark Matthews trekking though the fern forest in search of an old jump line.
Sometime last year I started exploring the world of film photography. I really enjoyed the slower, more deliberate pace of shooting film. No longer could I burst fire a sequence of 10 shots, and then select the best one afterward. No longer could I instantly see the shot I just took, and decide whether to take another. In fact, there are plenty more limitations that come with shooting film, both in the still and movie varieties. As it turns out though, these same limitations are part of the reason shooting film is both so exciting and challenging.
There’s a certain feeling or nostalgia that film evokes, and I feel that’s especially true with Super 8mm. While it’s relatively low in quality, it’s high in style, and that’s what counts. If you really think about it, any media, whether music, photography, or film, isn’t so much about what you’re seeing and hearing, but rather what you’re feeling.
Mark Matthews echoes my sentiments: “We have aimed to capture the essence of riding and create the catalyst that reminds us about the fun and relaxed vibe mountain biking provides. Logging banger riding shots and pushing my riding wasn’t exactly a goal of mine for this project – and it also wasn’t really an option. Our total inventory consisted of one Canon 310XL Super 8 mm camera and two Kodak Ektachrome 100D film cartridges. Almost every single riding clip got used in the final edit (meaning everything was shot first try). The outcome of these shots was a big mystery as well, how each clip turned out was to be determined.”
When I approached Mark with the unique idea of shooting an edit in Super 8mm, he was immediately onboard. However, it wasn’t until we started looking at old Super 8 surfing and skateboarding films that we really understood how our edit would look and feel. There was something about the film footage we were watching that we had never seen in mountain biking. I figure mountain biking is such a young sport that it missed out on the era where people shot with amateur film. So in making this edit Mark and I hoped to capture the fun, carefree feeling of a grainy old surf film, or ski film, or skate film…. except in this case it would be something for our own community, something for all the riders out there to appreciate.
In September, we began our shooting this film – often on Saturdays. It quickly became apparent that our biggest challenge would be making the most of our limited film supply. We had two 50′ cartridges of Kodak Ektachrome, which would each yield approximately 3 minutes of footage. It was both stressful and exciting trying to make every shot count.
Mark would attempt to get tricks and riding dialed first try, and I would do my best to not only capture them, but limit the amount of film wasted on the lead-in and run-out of his lines. It was a very foreign feeling to have shot some amazing tricks, yet not be able to play them back immediately and check how they looked. Did I frame it right? Was it properly exposed? Was it in focus? Heck, I wasn’t even sure the Canon 310XL I was using worked, aside from the fact that you could hear the motor running. It would be weeks before we could find out. When we did finally exhaust the last of the Super 8 film it was humbling to know that, for better or for worse, we were finished shooting. We had created all the footage we could make in 100′ of film. There were no retries, no deleting and filming again.
Whip Mid Pack
The exposed film cartridges were soon mailed to Niagara Custom Lab in Toronto, where they processed the film then mailed them back. Mark and I eventually tracked down a Super 8 projector (thanks Camera Traders) and for the first time saw the results of our hard work projected in a dark room. I can’t remember how many times we rewound and re-watched that film reel, but we were blown away by the colour and style of the footage. It looked just like we had envisioned, and we knew that in order to truly showcase the detail of the film stock, we would need to get a high definition scan made for our edit.
Again our film was mailed off, this time to the Okanagan, and with it I packed a hard drive. We sent it to Oliver at Newsreel Productions, where it was scanned frame by frame (all 6,480 of them). When the film arrived back with hard drive full of digitized footage, Mark and I sat down and jointly edited the video. After about 8 hours of tweaking and editing, we had our final cut. Our diligence with the film had paid off, and we ended up with a heroic shooting ratio of 3:2 (for every 3 minutes of footage shot, 2 minutes are in the final cut).
Pieces of Our Time Machine.
Polaroids and Super 8…
The film captures exactly what we had sought out to do: create a stylish edit that captures the fun of mountain biking on an old school medium.
Kamloops riders are a different breed. They will look at slippery wet roots like a snail looks at salt, but take them to a wedge booter that wouldn’t look out of place in a ski movie, and they will be off it before you have even scoped where the landing is, with dust hanging like a vapour trail through the air behind them. Dylan Sherrard is one of these Kamloops mutants, and was to be our guide and riding partner for our trip to the birthplace of freeriding.
I opened my eyes at 4:30am, to a 7.1 on the rectum scale, from Stephen, who I had the pleasure of sharing a bed with, and Reuben Krabbe’s military-like awakening. “Get up boys, light’s firing!” A flurry of tea and coffee making, and we tripped over each other, fell out of the gas chamber and into the NSMB truck, and headed towards the bike ranch to meet Dylan. As the sun emerged over the horizon, we rubbed our eyes and got ready to send it. It was still barely 5am, but the light was perfect, and we weren’t going to please the readers of Dirt magazine by sitting around at the top, half asleep.
We had made the trip from Whistler to shoot with Seb Kemp and Reuben Krabbe for a feature for Dirt Magazine which appeared in Dirt issue 126. Reuben is a fantastically skilled photographer, a big fan of early mornings, and as we found out on our trip, is sometimes partial to shredding scree lines butt naked! Myself and Stephen kept the clothes on, but that didn’t stop the fun being turned up to eleven. After the trip, We reflected on the hectic few days we had in the ‘Loops, and I asked Stephen about how it was for him:
Rio was a bit grown in at this point in the season… Stephen Matthews had never quite seen this much bush in Kamloops. Photo ~ Reuben Krabbe
Paul Stevens: Do you remember the planning that went into this trip?
Stephen Matthews: To be honest, I wouldn’t say I had much to do with the planning of this trip. Seb, and Reuben, had the groundwork already laid out when the plan was presented to me post-Phat Wednesday race at the GLC not two weeks before departure. Reuben and Seb had a vision for the article, and I was just lucky enough to be asked to go.
PS: So is Kamloops kind of like the Shore?
SM: I don’t think that the style of trail could be any more different. Kamloops has its fast and flowing ridgelines, while the Shore has its dank and deep forests. I think you could draw mental parallels between the riders in terms of the innovative movements in pushing the boundaries of riding. The core riders in each zone seem to share a vision to grow the sport in their own unique ways, but I wouldn’t compare trail similarities.
Stephen Matthews mid-trail hip. Rio throws all kinds of fun at you. Photo ~ Reuben Krabbe
PS: How would you describe Barnhartvale gravel pits? I heard you don’t really like that place?
SM: If I could describe riding Barnhartvale in one word, it would be facemelting (I had to invent a word for this question). Remember that scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade when Walter Donovan chooses the incorrect Cup of Christ, and his face begins to melt away with greed. That’s what riding in Barnhartvale feels like, although instead of your bones exploding into dust, you just get to upload in the truck and log another lap.
Stephen Matthews coming in for a landing! Rio has new lines and improvements every year! It’s come a long way over the last few seasons. Photo ~ Reuben Krabbe
PS: What was the highlight of the trip?
SM: The highlight of any trip for me is a balance of connecting with old friends and making new ones. Getting all the boys together and having Brad Stuart show us some of his local gems would have to be the highlight for me. From the gut busting shuttles up, to riding at full speed down unfamiliar trails behind locals, praying they have the lines dialled, the day with the Kamloops locals was my favourite.
PS: What was the lowlight of the trip?
SM: As you noted in your intro paragraph, it would have to be waking up in our motel room to the smell of creeping death.
Paul Stevens and Stephen Matthews chasing each other through every corner. Photo ~ Reuben Krabbe
PS: Tell me a bit about Gnarcroft
SM: It’s a work of art and is the brainchild of a few visionaries that don’t see a problem with pushing the envelope. Those boys were given the public recognition through Anthill Films’ latest, but I feel fortunate to have been there with the builder, and seen the proud look on his face as we not only saw it, but as we rode it. You can tell Brad likes seeing success. The success of a trail coming together and then observing how all his hard work has managed to make history in a group of rider’s minds.
PS: Describe Brad Stuart in 3 words
SM: Hardworking, Visionary, Insane
A classic hip on Harper Mountain was a fantastic end to a long day. Photo ~ Reuben Krabbe
PS: Would this trip have been better on 650b wheels?
SM: If you want to apply psychosomatics’ to mountain biking, that’s just fine Paul! Not once on this trip did I wish that my bead seat circumference would grow from 1756mm to 1834mm.
After a long day of shooting, we convinced Reuben to put down the camera and join us for a beer. This was the last photo of the evening. Photo ~ Reuben Krabbe
So that’s Part 1. In Part 2, we’ll get the other side of the story with more great images from Reuben. Any words for Paulo and Stephen? Let ‘em hear it below…