RIP to a North Shore Trail

Sun Sets On Family Guy

Photos Danielle Baker - Unless Noted

Danielle, Paul and I took advantage of the nicer weather and embarked on a hike up Family Guy to shoot the trail in its death throes. I knew logging had begun and I had a general idea where the road was being punched through. After coming upon the area that had been logged I wasn’t prepared for the sight of the first big rock face on the trail completely exposed to the sky above. The trees around it had been felled, including those near the ride-around to the right with the sketchy log ride. The loggers had punched their way through the upper half of the trail leaving nothing standing in their wake.

Sun Sets On Family Guy - This is the entrance off Cypress Bowl Road

This is the entrance off Cypress Bowl Road.

It has been a long time since we here on the North Shore bore witness to the full on destruction of a local trail. The “Chainsaw Massacre” of 1999 is the last one that I can remember hearing about in which the District of West Vancouver went in and systematically removed all the wooden stunts on the trails that dotted Cypress. 

Sun Sets On Family Guy - First Rock Face

For many of us it was a victory when we managed to commit to the the first rock ride on Family Guy.  Sadly this is what it looks like now.

The most recent trail closure/reroute was Stupid Grouse on Cypress to make way for Whitby Estates, a portion of the ever-expanding sprawl in West Vancouver. While the trail was not completely removed, what remains is a 50 meter swath along McDonald Creek running the entire length of the development, top to bottom. When riding the trail it becomes evident that it was saved from the onslaught of McMansions only to provide  marketable “green space” which ironically is used as the local grass clipping dumping zone. 

What a difference a few years and a few meetings make. Back when there was no conversation in the matter of trails between the developers, municipalities and the user groups, rash decisions were made and everyone was left angry. Family Guy represents the break from this “old world” of thinking. Unprecedented work with the District of West Vancouver, British Pacific Properties and the NSMBA have lead us to this point. A point in which we have regular meetings and discuss the impacts of the developments on the local trail network. Trail re-routes around the future developments and possibly new trails from ones which are heavily impacted have come from these meetings.

Sun Sets On Family Guy - The wooden bridge at the bottom of Family Guy, the only water crossing of the trail

The wooden bridge at the bottom of Family Guy, the only water crossing of the trail.

Family Guy filled a need – and did it in entertaining fashion.  Before FG once you emerged from Firehose, Sex Girl or lower Paul Hogan there was nothing to do but coast down the road or climb up to Stupid Grouse.  Family Guy provided the missing link to join the steepest, gnarliest and most direct route down the mountain.

Like many fine accomplishments Family Guy was born out of adversity.  An injury in 2002 kept one of the builders from riding his bike on doctor’s orders for about 6 months. Hiking in from the bottom, following what was then a surveyor’s line, the injured builder and a friend came across a unique slab of rock. It eventually became the trail’s second rock face. They walked further uphill locating interesting features, culminating in the first rock face -  the one that Family Guy is most known for. I remember my first attempt and subsequent crashes – before I finally had the nerve to commit – like they happened yesterday.

Sun Sets On Family Guy - Wooden ladder

Standing at the precipice of the wooden ladder was known to instill fear. Now imagine gapping onto this rock…

Connecting the dots they built the trail. The wood banana bridge was constructed after the original idea of gapping onto the rock was re-evaluated. I can imagine the carnage that would have happened over the years if the jump onto the rock had been realized. The wood banana bridge remained as one of the only wooden features found on the trail. This lack of stunts built of wood was in response to threat from West Vancouver to come in and cut out the wood work, as they had in the past; Family Guy became predominantly natural.

Sun Sets On Family Guy - Rock walls that hold up the berms as you ride into the wooden banana ladder

It is a shame that rockwork like this will soon be removed. These are the rock walls that hold up the berms as you ride into the wooden banana ladder.

British Pacific Properties purchased much of Cypress from the Government in 1931 with an agreement to build a crossing to West Vancouver and a golf course. The crossing would eventually become the Lion’s Gate Bridge, a partnership with the Guinness Family (yeah the beer) and the golf course became the Capilano Golf and Country Club. The idea was to capitalize on the natural beauty  of the area and sell it as an exclusive neighbourhood.

Sun Sets On Family Guy - Family Guy in 2004 - Rider Cam McRae

Family Guy in 2004.  Rider ~ Cam McRae

The Rodgers Creek Development is the first phase of the master plan for Cypress Bowl, which stretches from the current residential area above Chippendale Road all the way around to Horseshoe Bay. Yes, that is correct; they plan to develop the entire face of the mountain from the 1200 foot mark down. Time and market conditions will dictate if and when the remaining plans come to fruition.

Sun Sets On Family Guy - Richard Belson tackles the opening rock face with Family Guy was young and fresh - Photo Cam McRae

Richard Belson tackles the opening rock face with Family Guy was young and fresh. Photo ~ Cam McRae

Family Guy was a milestone trail for me but I wanted to get some more perspective.  I spoke to a few local riders and they piped in on their thoughts about the trail.

Jerry Willows: The first ride of 2008 was with Wade Simmons and we decided to climb up to Family Guy from the bottom. Conditions were wet and wild and we were railing the trail and both missed the right hander on to the bridge from off the rock half ways down. Everyone will miss the trail as it flowed well. Long live the steep and gnarly of Cypress!

Dave Watson: I’d heard of this new trail called ‘Family Guy’ and compared to all the other trail names on the shore – it sounded mellow – so wasn’t sure what to expect.  But dropping in it was obvious the builder new how to build.  It was short and sweet.  Trying to carve a nose manual into the first rock roll and making the bridge after the rock drop when you're following Shandro is never easy – but Bingo Bong we were back at On Top Dan’s van for another few laps – I think we hit it 5 times that day and it was buff - nothing like a new trail!

Sun Sets On Family Guy - Rock faces this sweet are tough to find..

Rock faces this sweet are tough to find..

Geoff Gulevich: Well "Family Guy" was one of my favourite trails at home and I'm gonna miss that quick rip. Family Guy was always that trail to finish off the perfect day. It was always that thing you would leave 5 minutes at the end of the day if you had been busy; to just take off and get at least one solid lap in....or 2....or 5.....hahaha!

Sun Sets On Family Guy - Apparently the Family Guy après party was quite the celebration

Apparently the Family Guy après party was quite the celebration.

A Builder's Message:
"The trail is where it is because Firehose is an awesome trail. With the last section of Paul Hogan disappearing when Mulgrave school was put in there was no last leg to finish off. Once we found the first rock we knew that's where the entrance was going to be.

Sun Sets On Family Guy - Another view of the banana bridge -  Photo Ian Rudd

Another view of the banana bridge.  Photo ~ Ian Rudd

The trail was named Family Guy for a few reasons, I have 3 children and my building comrade has 4. Cypress has a TV theme from previous trails, Tree Vee, Ed Sullivan and Paul Hogan, popular trails from the 80's. We did not want to choose an off colour name being so close to the bottom of the hill. It might be looked upon more kindly if it was somewhat polite. And of course Family Guy is a wicked show.

Sun Sets On Family Guy - The rock face worn clean by thousands of DH tires - Photo Ian Rudd

The rock face worn clean by thousands of DH tires - and a few kneepads, shorts and helmets.  Photo ~ Ian Rudd

One of the things we thought was important in the construction was that there be no woodwork or elevated stuff. Again trying to make it more palatable for the land owners/municipality. I'm a carpenter and if I spent 10 hours building something that got cut up I'd blow a gasket. I have a lot of riding experience in other areas of BC particularly in bike parks and saw the flowy trail thing being introduced and thought that was the way to go. My background is in motorcycle road racing and enjoy fast and flowy. The Dangerous Dan stuff 8 feet in the air scares the shit out of me so on the ground it is."

Family Guy is dead.  Long Live Family Guy.

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