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Jumping Little Bikes

There's a North Shore (indoor) Bike Park?

Photos Deniz Merdano

Indeed there is. The North Shore Bike Park has been open since July and it's been humming along nicely since that time. It occupies a space in Capilano Mall that had been vacant since January of 2018 when a large Sears Store shut its doors.

I know what you might be thinking; this is an indoor bike park with skinnies and ladder bridges. In fact the "North Shore" in the name refers to the park's location, rather than the woodwork inside. This is a spot where you can ride a dirt jumper or a duallie, but also a scooter or bmx. It is entirely made of lumber, with plywood used as a riding surface in most places but also Skatelite* for the street zone. It's a place to work on your fitness, learn some new skills, and have some fun with your buddies.

*a wood panel that is smoother and more durable than plywood and more compatible with smaller wheels

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Part of the jump zone. It may not seem like it from this photo, but there is a lot of room for everyone. The directional arrows are key.

When I first saw the park, the build was in its infancy. Since that time green, blue and black jump lines have been built as well as two pump tracks and a street zone. I wasn't sure what to expect when we got invited to come and check it out, but I was a little worried. It's been years since I'd ridden a dirt jumper and rusty doesn't begin to describe my 'skills.' So, like any terrified mountain biker, I turned to YouTube for some tips, and hit a home run.

The problem with riding the North Shore all the time is that there aren't many chances to get off the ground, and even then it's usually just drops. Arced take-offs are very rare and sadly I don't ride Whistler enough to maintain the meagre skills I used to have. So I poked around a little and eventually found the Loam Ranger's instructional video for jumping and I learned to stand up to the jump. It actually made a huge difference for me.

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It turns out that jumping is pretty social because of the ratio of riding to recovering.

Other members of the nsmb editorial crew have much better skills with tiny bikes and had no need of crutches, but I felt a little better for it. I procured a rental GT dirt jumper from NSBF, started off on the pump track and felt, well, pretty crappy actually. The problem with our increasingly capable bikes is that you can ride them pretty well without being very dynamic. Those big wheels and all that suspension do a lot of the work for you and it turns out I was getting lazy about body movement, particularly fore and aft. More on that later.

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Fun for the whole fam. Ryan Walters brought his daughter along and they both had a good time.

Fortunately, pump tracking is a blast even when you suck so I kept doing laps and started to generate more speed and feel a little better. The rest of the crew were on to more ambitious lines. Ryan Walters brought his daughter along, who seemed to be having as much fun as any of us, and he was sessoning the jump lines on his BMX. I knew Deniz was a good jumper but I soon learned that Ryan, Cooper Quinn, Dave Tolnai, Emma, and Graham were all pretty good at getting air on little bikes. It was fun to watch them and pick up some skills but also a little intimidating.

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"Is there a senior's rate?"

I did some laps of the green jumps and felt okay but decided to go back to the pump track for a couple more laps. There are two lines and you can swap them as you go, so I did. But I did it late. I was a little casual about turning into the tighter loop and it became obvious that my front wheel was going to go off the top of the berm and there was nothing I could do about it. I landed in a heap on top of the bike and the wood and bruised ego and ribs equally. I was fine to keep riding but a little jittery about getting back to jumping, and it was time to try the blue jumps.

Using the Loam Ranger's technique (Stand Up to the Jump!) I felt okay my first time through the blue set. In fact I actually felt pretty good and was less nervous than I expected. I couldn't, however, get the nerve to hit the final largest jump well enough to make the transition.

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That may be terror in my eyes but this is when I was getting closer to hitting the transition - of the next, larger jump.

Watching the other riders made it clear that I didn't need more speed but I obviously needed more pop. Or something? I wasn't sure what I needed aside from some more nerve but eventually I just started landing in the sweet spot. It didn't sound sweet though, because I kept landing with a thud unlike the better jumpers, but that seemed minor compared to getting the hang of it. On the smaller jumps I was starting to figure out how to move the bike in the air, and then it really started to get fun. I wasn't laying down sick Schleybletops but I'd graduated from my dead (and drunk) sailor technique.

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Ryan Walters had the style and the period-correct garb.

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This shot gives you a decent idea of the size of the space, but you are only looking at a small portion of the park. The street zone and another jump line are out of sight, as well as areas that aren't yet built out. It turns out there may be some skinnies and North Shore moves in the future as well.

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Uncle Dave looking relaxed and confident in the air.

Skill Transference

The most important development from my time at North Shore Bike Park actually happened the next day. I went for a ride with James Wilson, who is a partner in NSBP as well as the owner of Obsession:Bikes, and we hit some familiar lines on Mt. Fromme. The funny thing was, they didn't feel familiar. Not at all. I had this strange slow motion feeling on the bike but I was actually riding most sections faster than ever. Even weirder was this sense that my suspension settings didn't matter, as though I adapted to the settings as they were, rather than adapting them to me. It wasn't until the bottom of the first trail that I realized I'd transferred my skills from the bike park to the dirt.

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It was a great showing from the nsmb crew.

After that I really started to let it hang out, but it felt easy. I was carrying more speed than usual but also feeling like I had much more control. The best part was that I easily hit a couple of doubles* I'd never managed to nail to transition before, and again, it felt like a piece of piss.

*there are a few

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Graham Dreidger putting some pump track laps in.

Those improvements, despite being surprisingly dramatic, felt logical to me. I'd also had similar experiences riding my BMX in a wooden park before so I shouldn't have been surprised about those outcomes. The part that seemed weird was how much better I felt on technical moves, including uphills. There is a spot on the Baden Powell that requires a power move to get up onto a bridge. There isn't a good run up and there is one large stair and one small one. I'd been failing it lately but post-NSBP, I made it easily. My rear wheel didn't even hit the stairs, or at least it felt like that.

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James "not a jumper" Wilson getting off the ground.

I think I know what helped me there. Riding the bikes we do, often involves staying 'inside' the bike. You can pretty much hunker down and make it through most moves. Getting air on a dirt jumper requires more deliberate movement and, in particular, those that get you off the vertical axis of your bike. The bike park woke up some dormant skills and had me handling my bike, rather than me letting it handle the trail. I had my best ride in ages and couldn't wipe the smile off my face.

You may not live here in B.C., but dirt jumps and pump tracks are starting to become common even in unexpected places. Give it a try and see what it does for your skills.

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Cooper Quinn seemed to feel right at home on his Evil - which you can read more about here.

I came away very impressed with everything about NSBP; the space, the friendly atmosphere, the progressive lines that are ideal for gradual improvement, and in particular how much the experience improved my riding on dirt. Next time I want to dip my toe into the street zone and see if I can ride some vert, with my wheels on the ground that is.

Bring on the rains!


The park will host birthday parties, for kids and adults and it's open 9 AM to 8 PM every day. The best entrance is in the underground parking (2 metre height limit!) that you enter to the east of Cap Mall off Hanes Ave but before 6:00 you can enter through the mall. More details on getting there here.

You can bring your own bike or rent one when you arrive. The bikes we rode were well-maintained and felt great. Day passes are 30 CAD for those over 13 years, 20 bucks for 5-12-year-olds, and 10 for little tykes. Season passes and 10 packs are also available. Rental bikes are also 30 CAD and there is even a pro shop stocked with Troy Lee merch. I recommend giving it a look.

North Shore Bike Park

NSBP on Instagram

Open Daily: 9am - 8pm

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+7 shenzhe Cam McRae thaaad dhr999 Pete Roggeman Velocipedestrian Charlie P-t

It's refreshing seeing so much grey hair combined with awesomeness on a bike.

I also really hope we can see more places like this, I feel like they breed a sense of community that outdoor parks lack due to the compressed area. I love the feel of larger outdoor parks, forests, etc, don't get me wrong, but there's something nice about the feel of these smaller areas and seeing people gather in a place like this year round.


+4 Shinook NewGuy thaaad BarryW

"It's refreshing seeing so much grey hair"

Ooof. I'm gonna need the fire department.


+6 NewGuy Mammal dhr999 Charlie P-t TerryP Dan

It's really amazing what they've done with this space - with more to come!

It would be great if they could have some artists come in and dress up the walls with some murals / graffiti. The "Sears Off-White" is a bit jarring.


+2 Deniz Merdano Pete Roggeman

I went into the evening thinking "don't let a camera get even close to you."  The first few minutes on the DJ bike were frightening.  It's been since around 2007/8 since I've been consistently hitting dirt jumps.  The pump track is a great way to get your bearings, and then the green jump line lets you transition into pump tracking/jumping a bit.  Overall, things came back a lot quicker than I expected.  Although, judging by that photo I probably shouldn't have let a camera get close to me.

Super fun night!


+1 Cam McRae

I hope to get myself and a buddy over there, we're pretty rusty as well. I used to be twice as good on half the bike, so I'm riding at 25% capacity I guess... Just riding down a mountain and hoping you make it is not a sound strategy! I have to get back to knowing my bike like it's a part of me then attack the trails. Even practising on a flat patch of grass does wonders, and this looks like fun. Maybe they could have an Old Farts night.


+2 Pete Roggeman Dan

No to old farts night. 

Go ride with some rippin 12 year olds for a few hours and shed some years off your life. The jump lines are an organic community and hey you may just make some new friends sessioning stuff. It's so much fun! 

Hope to see you there


+1 Dan

Looks fantastic! Great pics and writeup Cam. 

I need to see if there is anything like this near me.



I'm pretty sure I could spend many years of my life content if I had an easily accessible velosolutions pumptrack and no other riding.


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