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EDITORIAL

Scare Yourself

Words Andrew Major
Photos Deniz Merdano (Unless Noted)
Date Nov 12, 2019
Reading time

Bookwus

I was on my first visit to 'The Shore,' pedaling up Mt Fromme on my Balfa MinuteMan* single speed, in search of a recommended trail called 7th Secret when I ran into a threesome of friendly, helpful, assholes named Noodles, IFO, and Dave.

The gregarious bunch tells me that 7th is actually totally clapped out and not worth my time.** Especially for my first ride on the Shore. But there's no need to worry because they're headed up that way and I'm more than welcome to join them. They'll show me the real goods. Because if you haven't ridden Bookwus and Grannies. Well my friend, you simply haven't ridden. Besides, Bookwus comes out on 7th just in time for the best bits.

*Size large, team-only clear-over-raw finish bought used. Beautiful.
**This turns out to be untrue and is certainly not the case today (thanks Pete!)

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The new work that the NSMBA is doing on Boundary is divine. Cheers to Pat, Sean, Joe, and anyone else involved - not to mention Karen!

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To date, riders have donated a decent stack in direct funding to preserve the heirloom trail that is Karen's Boundary.

At that point, my main haunt was Burke Mountain where I thought the trails I rode were rugged, rooted, and steep. Once I confirm the aforementioned trail is all wheels-on-the-ground riding, I'm all in. If there are a couple of steep technical pitches I can't handle, I'm not too proud to walk.

A while later we roll past the traditional exit of 7th Secret just as a rider is starting down a large log ride. The rest of his group is already waiting on the road and we stop to join in the cheers & jeers. The log itself goes fine but he stalls out cornering at the top of the steep rocked-in exit to the road. One foot comes unclipped and then somehow passes through the front triangle of his frame. Then his whole body rotates and he's looking back up the trail. Falling! One backward step, two small hops, and then his feet, still wrapped in his frame, are passing his head in a full-on backward somersault. I close my eyes. There's a lot of noise as the bike and body meet arranged stone and then a loud cheer. He's A-OK.

Phew.


Dave asks if I want to join them again next week. Same time, same trails. Absolutely, I'll be there. I love these trails. I love these trails?
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From time to time I've been known to yell to no one in particular "LET IT ROLL!" Yes, it does actually help. Photo: Andrew Major

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It did wonders for my elevated riding to start thinking in terms of ladders, logs, and skinnies instead of just calling everything made of a wood "a skinny." Photo: Andrew Major

If watching that end-of-7th crash was a shocking introduction to Fromme, it had nothing on watching Noodles, Dave, and IFO hit the first big roll-in on Bookwus. We've barely started down the trail, and I've already walked a few techy moves, when I find myself standing with the guys at the top of a short steep climb staring down this steep composition of rock-face, greasy roots, and dirt.

I'd never walked as much of a trail as I did that day. I slide on my butt down a few features on Bookwus. I carry my bike down multiple Escher-esque rooted sections on Grannies. It is insane. I am terrified. This is mountain biking‽ We continue down and at some point, I ride my bike for more than five meters. We're done. We all laugh. Dave asks if I want to join them again next week. Same time, same trails. Absolutely, I'll be there. I love these trails. I love these trails?

At some point I got pretty proficient at riding Bookwus, generally flowing into Pipeline which has long been one of my Fromme favourites. It feels pretty good to be decent at riding hard technical trails and the trails on Fromme aren't like anywhere I've ridden. And then I move to the Shore.

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I always have a few spicy "OH SH*******T" moments, but Digger is currently my favourite trail anywhere. Thanks to my friends Chris, Andi, Jac, and Stephen Seagull, who helped me through a steep re-learning curve.

Years go by, riding priorities change, I find myself riding solo more and more and choosing trails that aren't necessarily easy but at the same time aren't full-on. I crash my bike, sure, but I'm not generally riding anything that gets my hackles up. I haven't ridden Bookwus in years.

Then one dry, spring evening, my friend Chris won't take no for an answer. I need some Bookwus in my life. And some Upper Crippler. And some Digger. And some Lower Boundary. I'm jittery, scared, consumed by what's coming. I'm slow. I walk plenty of stuff. Features that haven't changed at all, that I know I've ridden plenty of times before, and yet remain impossibly daunting. Do I want to join him again next week? Same time, same trails? Absolutely, I'll be there. I love these trails. I love these trails!

2019 has turned into my most fantastic year of riding in recent memory, with months left to go. I leave the Shore less frequently than in past years but ride a greater variety of trails. I clean Bookwus top-to-bottom for the first time in my life and it feels amazing (when I unclench at the bottom). The re-learning curve is steep but the return on stress invested is phenomenal. I'm beyond stoked on riding my bikes.

Apparently I needed to be reminded about a foolproof method for stoking the fire: Scare yourself.

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Comments

kurt-adams
+3 Dan Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
Kurt Adams  - Nov. 12, 2019, 5:22 a.m.

That was great!  

Vividly brings back memories of almost 20 years to my first "Shore" experience on Seymour. It was in January and we rode CBC to Pingu to Boogieman (something like that).  I was on my new Giant AC2. Man did I get worked hard, last bit of Boogieman was dark with no lights. I crashed so many times trying to keep up with the crew that took me out.  At one point I went over the bars and had my shoelaces snag the brake levers and needed help to remove the bike off of me.  

I was cold, scared and hurting. It was the best ride of my life.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Kurt Adams
Andrew Major  - Nov. 12, 2019, 7:23 a.m.

Thank you!

Black AC2 with a Pike up front? Best (worst) endo I ever saw on the Stairs Of Despair was on that bike. Those things were everywhere.

Trying to keep up in a new group dynamic can definitely be a great way to scare yourself!

Reply

kurt-adams
+2 Dan Andrew Major
Kurt Adams  - Nov. 12, 2019, 8:35 a.m.

Yep the black AC2, I wish it had a Pike up front. It had the infamous RockShox Psylo... I think I broke 3 of them.

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AndrewMajor
+1 Kurt Adams
Andrew Major  - Nov. 12, 2019, 3:59 p.m.

I wrote Pike but was thinking Psylo. Infamous is right.

Reply

AlanB
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
AlanB  - Nov. 12, 2019, 9:38 a.m.

The old Stairs Of Despair brought much joy and adrenaline in the days before suspension, back when my only armour was a stem pad. Getting down them wasn't the scary part, it was negotiating the left turn at the bottom!

Reply

Cheez1ts
+2 ManInSteel Andrew Major
Garrett Thibault  - Nov. 12, 2019, 5:37 a.m.

The photos for this piece are perfect. Great job Andrew.

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AndrewMajor
+2 AlanB Garrett Thibault
Andrew Major  - Nov. 12, 2019, 7:12 a.m.

Thanks, Deniz did such a great job!

In actual fact, the photo on Digger inspired the article - after we had a great laugh about how scared I looked (and therefore what a keeper the photo was).

I wrote most the article in my head riding Boundary and named it sitting at the top of the roll-in that’s the title shot while Deniz swapped a lens.

Reply

craw
+2 Dan Andrew Major
Cr4w  - Nov. 12, 2019, 5:54 a.m.

I flashed Bookwus once.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 12, 2019, 7:15 a.m.

Did you dance like an idiot at the bottom?! 

(‘cause I totally didn’t... totally... didn’t...)

Reply

sanesh-iyer
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
Sanesh Iyer  - Nov. 12, 2019, 6:33 a.m.

Great article. Your penchant for rigid single speeds is another path to scaring yourself into improvement...

Over biking often results in boredom. On my Chromag, even with extended stints off the MTB these days, I find myself riding the same lines (maybe slower) as on any squishy bike I've owned. My first no dab bookwus through immonator lap was on that bike. I don't often flash trails, on big moves I stop and scope out lines and maybe move some loose rocks. But, it also feels like I'm 13 again and out with my buddies riding trails for the first time. Bonus benefit, when I briefly hopped on a squish last year I was flying faster than ever before.

If your tolerance for risk is constant but you want to improve, look at what your riding. A smaller bike can go a long way to spicing up the same trails, enabling much longer days in the saddle, and access to new terrain.

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AndrewMajor
+2 Doug M. Sanesh Iyer
Andrew Major  - Nov. 12, 2019, 7:31 a.m.

I do think a lot of folks would both love a rigid Kona Unit with a 2-degree Works Components headset (66 static head angle) and 2.8” Vigilantes and be shocked how much they could ride. Ultimate second bike on a budget?!

Or maybe a tall 29+ Trek rigid fork on front of a RMB Growler if never wanting to run the bike SS.

Anyways, with all the weirdos riding the shore it always surprises me I don’t see more rigid forks. Way more capable than most would think - with the right brakes a rubber - and makes trails you’ve ridden a ton feel fresh.

Reply

sanesh-iyer
+2 Dan Andrew Major
Sanesh Iyer  - Nov. 12, 2019, 7:56 a.m.

My Float 34 needs a service, so you've convinced me. I'll get a Rigid Steel fork for my Chromag & a 29x2.8 tire and give it a whirl. Why the hell not. Single speed is not my jam though.

Reply

AndrewMajor
+1 Sanesh Iyer
Andrew Major  - Nov. 12, 2019, 8:58 a.m.

The hardest part will be finding a fork that matches your sagged axle-to-crown height. I’ve noticed a couple lightly used Niner ROS-9+ forks around on the internet; might be a good place to start looking.

Reply

sanesh-iyer
0
Sanesh Iyer  - Nov. 12, 2019, 6:13 p.m.

Update:

540mm a2c rigid fork is hard to come by!

Reply

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Nov. 13, 2019, 1:45 a.m.

Surly Krampus fork is 483mm, add a few stem spacers and you shouild be good to go.

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 13, 2019, 7:55 a.m.

In my experience you want to keep the A2C in around the 25%-30% sag point of your suspension fork for the best fit and rigid geo. 

Certainly I know folks who have gone much shorter.

fartymarty
0
fartymarty  - Nov. 13, 2019, 1:49 a.m.

The other benefit of rigid forks is that they don't dive and you can "bench press" your way out of trouble.

Reply

gdharries
+2 Dan Andrew Major
Geof Harries  - Nov. 13, 2019, 12:51 p.m.

I don't have a rigid singlespeed, but I do have a steel hardtail (Kona Explosif) with a 140mm fork and a 2.8" front tire. It's a total party bike. Prior to moving my parts over to the Kona from a Norco Torrent, I ran that Torrent with 2.8" tires front and rear.

You're absolutely right that the big tires, good brakes and more relaxed angles dramatically change the capabilities of the average hardtail or rigid bike. What we used to ride rigid in the early 90s are not at all the same bikes that people can ride now.

Too bad that more people don't start on these bikes; far too many just jump right into full suspension. In the old days, that's all we had and it made you a better rider by default.

Reply

trumpstinyhands
+1 Andrew Major
trumpstinyhands  - Nov. 12, 2019, 7:01 a.m.

I wonder where the Bookwus picture near the steep skinny went? Probably on someone's wall!

Reply

rigidjunkie
+1 Andrew Major
Allen Lloyd  - Nov. 12, 2019, 7:38 a.m.

This story reminds me of years ago following a couple much better riders down an trail with a bunch of wooden features.  2 jump out to me, first a skinny that started 2-3 feet off the ground then went around a corner and was instantly 5-6 feet off the ground.  My buddy was manualing the dam thing and I was having a code brown just trying to ride the thing.  The second was a teeter totter with a 6 foot high pivot point my buddy yelled "give me space" I rode up this thing and it felt like it was never going to pivot, then it did and I immediately climbed back up and rode that dam thing 5 or 6 times because it scared me so good.

Reply

AndrewMajor
0
Andrew Major  - Nov. 12, 2019, 8:55 a.m.

Sounds like Woodlot(?!). My first time riding Crazy Carpenter was an... adventure. Bill The Builder did great work.

Reply

DemonMike
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
mike  - Nov. 12, 2019, 12:54 p.m.

My buddy and his son have been taking care of KK. He has added a bunch of new stuff in the cut block now.

Reply

DemonMike
+1 Andrew Major
mike  - Nov. 12, 2019, 8:25 a.m.

Rode 7th a while back. 1st time since late 90,s early 00,s . Not what it once was. Granted last time I rode it was on a DH bike. This trip was my 120mm 29er. After so many years of riding out in the Fraser Valley. I was out of my element, definitely wishing I had more bike .

Reply

mammal
+1 Andrew Major
Mammal  - Nov. 12, 2019, 8:56 a.m.

7th definitely not the same trail as it was, but it's great fun on my hard tail! The dually FS trail bike always feels like it wants to flow faster than the trail allows, but the HT is prefect.

Reply

cooperquinn
+4 upandown ManInSteel Mammal Niels
Cooper Quinn  - Nov. 12, 2019, 11:31 a.m.

No trail is the same as it once was; the only constant is change.

And, IMO, that's a good thing!

Reply

xy9ine
+2 upandown Mammal
Perry Schebel  - Nov. 12, 2019, 10:53 a.m.

i love that bookwus still exists. bit of a time capsule, reminds me of the early days of the shore. keeps you honest as well.

Reply

BeesIntheTrap
+2 Pete Roggeman Andrew Major
BeesIntheTrap  - Nov. 12, 2019, 12:33 p.m.

It certainly does. I was recommended it for my first time on the shore. I can ride everything on map in Whistler OK, so wasn't expecting to be humbled quite so badly. It's been a while since I walked and crashed my way down a trail quite so badly.

Reply

IslandLife
+1 Andrew Major
IslandLife  - Nov. 13, 2019, 1:07 p.m.

Haha, nice!  Reminded of the time in, what... maybe 2005, 2006?-ish... few years after I' had moved down from Whistler, didn't have a bike and hadn't ridden in a number of years.  Some of my buddies who were all on the best of the day wanted to get me back out.  "Just find a bike and meet us up there!".  Ok... girlfriend's brother had an old Rocky Mountain Hammer sitting around... grabbed that and headed up.  Met the boys at the bottom and they all basically looked at me like I was insane... this was about to be my first ride on the Shore... I had no idea.  We rode up Fromme... which I called "Grouse" multiple times during the ride. "So, how far are we from the top of Grouse?"  "Could you just ski down here?" "Does Grouse mind us riding on their mountain?"  haha... so much cringe thinking about it now..

So we ride up and we get to... I don't even remember which trail it was, but it was either Expresso, Ladies or Pipeline.  We're about to drop in and everyone turns to me and is like "You ready?  You going to be ok?" with what seemed like quite a bit of worry in their eyes and voices.  I'm like "Ya, why?  Lets just go!"

I don't remember a lot about that ride, except... it scared the fuck out of me!!  But I kept riding... I was having fun and I think I held my own... I rode what felt like quite a bit, I know I walked some... and I specifically remember passing a couple groups of riders parked on the side of the trail staring at me and my bike in what seemed like disbelief as I rode by... another couple of guys cheered hard as I rode by.  It was all very strange and surreal to me... I was just riding my bike.  Rode out the bottom and my group of friends was high-fiving me, hugging me and cheering.  I was sort of confused... it was hard, I walked some section and some sections that I rolled into scared the shit out of me and maybe I was lucky to be alive... but it didn't seem that bad.

It did scare/excite me enough to go get a bike... bought a Brodie Hoodlum (arguably a pretty good all-mountain enduro bike... kind of ahead of it's time).  I actually took it out for a couple rides a few years ago before selling it (why did I do that?) and that 160mm Rockshox Domain coil with the U-turn travel adjust feature... was butter.  That was an awesome fork!  And seemed to still work so well after like 7 or 8 years of no use and had never been serviced?!  Beauty of coil I guess?

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