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Shore's Future not so bright

May 13, 2014, 6:36 p.m.
Posts: 145
Joined: May 13, 2014

Before you think my title is alarmist, a few things in order first. I am not new to biking; I was born and raised just below Princess Park for the first 32 of my 42 years. I have been riding, in the woods, for 30 years, and I have seen it all. I am a dedicated rider whom would ride more if life did not command so much of my time. That said.

I ride mostly Fromme, so it will be the focus of my observations. A bit of a history lesson will provide the context for my views. In the OLD days all we had was BMX bikes with bald rear tires. Staples for riding were the BP, old skidder roads and whatever water run-off path seemed reasonable. There was no trail network as such. There were no stunts, no woodwork, no maintenance, since most of the paths were water fall lines that were mostly rock. The mantra "get feet wet or butt kicked" was gospel, you can guess the which of the two was more common. Armour was soccer shinpads. I don't recall helmets. But the fact was this: there was very few of us and very few of anyone else, either. This is important to remember.

Something happened around the late 80's. Mountain bikes became popular and began to be used, and the bikes were primitive (or liberating, depending) in that there was no suspension, canti brakes and 2.1 tires (at best). The trails were essentially limited to the bikes. You didn't have big hucks or flowing trails. There still was no trails as such. But in the 90's the lines began to be cut from being in the woods and being bored with " the old stuff". Hence the first trails. If you look really hard on Oilcan, Ladies, Executioner you can see the evidence: chainring marks (there were no bashguards yet). Trails had few features and mostly were natural, as that was what was the easiest to cut and make. YOU handled it, or you didn't. There was no "taming" the trail to the rider. You got better or gave it up. Of course this lead to the major release of riding in the 2000s with hucks, skinnies, and ladders/features for their own sake rather than traversing water or holes. Of course, some trails became obscene in the ridiculousness, such as the now defunct Swollen Uvula (which is the hangy-down bit in the back of your throat despite the sexual suggestion thereof). But I would agree the trails had gotten too scary, too risky and for obvious reasons had to be brought down. Note that there is a direct correlation with this time to the size of drops and the amount of suspension thereof. And the bike weight (remember the Banshee Scream with Monsters? I do.)

But in the last 10 years I have noticed a real change, and I am not so sure it is for the better, however one defines that. I will start by saying that I think it really started with the popularity of biking through the early freeriding scene and seeing more bikers on trails originally designed for more "low impact use". Erosion set in fast on mostly loam trails and thus the move to either wood or armoured trails began. Note this made dealing with wet roots more infrequent. Eventually it got to the point that the older style of "more natural trails" (or eroded, depending on your point of view) was seen as unfavourable. There are few like this left. Most trails got armoured, understandably, and with the increasing traffic it was mandatory. But with the removal of the "microfeatures" on trails a valuable skill was lost. Newer riders became use to the armoured, more flowy style of trail that was a consequence of, not result of, evolution. Think of the lower parts of Crinkum and now the downward most bits are cut off. The bottom half of Executioner is gone. Cut off for "poor reasons". But if tougher (not scarier) parts are gone, where does one learn this? If no one learns it, no one has the skill to handle it and thus, any trails with aforementioned parts will be shunned to its (unfairly) unrideable nature. Thus, the trail either dies off or is decommissioned for no good reason. And look at it today: Ladies Only. Totally groomed compared to the past. If you do Executioner today, and do the Dreamweaver route (heavily used by hikers who are ambivalent to why it is there and made only to avoid the upward hike at the end of Executioner) there is NOTHING on Dreamweaver to look forward to. Nothing. We lost the best part of Executioner for this. Or Espresso. Now, I am the first to applaud ANY work and especially that of Digger. But the Espresso route today is so completely not "Shore" and yet it is the most ridden. The carefully lined berms are all dirt, and easily eroded by less skilled riders. In some areas it is already eroding. There are few features on the trail itself, and almost ALL of the old line is bypassed, or at least not encouraged. I have yet to see anyone (when I am on it) do the old school line. This includes the super steep part on the bottom third. And the current version of Espresso is extremely labour intensive to maintain. I foresee Digger on it virtually all the time. And what does this trail teach a beginner? Body english? Hopping over logs? Wheely drops? Nada. And you can BET that the person riding Espresso routinely today is not the same one who did it 10 years ago or does Grannies today (which is a personal old-school favourite). Count on it. I see a lot of kids on Bobsled and I am all for it, but you can be sure there are many newbies that do Bobsled regularly and have no idea that Walk in the Clouds existed or where Bookwus is.

This has a real consequence. IF trails like Bookwus and Pink Starfish are not ridden due to a lack of interest from riders (again, because they lack the skills or style to ride them) it is much easier to close them for good, and once gone, it is not coming back. Look at Seventh. It is fully armoured the entire way down. All the microfeatures are gone, and it is directly related to the vicious circle: trail gets used, needs work, so gets armoured, which smoothens the ride, gets more riders of less technical skill, gets more use, more armouring……. I agree this has to happen on some trails, but ALL? What of rider development? Skill development? How many go down Lower Skull? Why? Why not? Eventually, as it "progresses", the mountain will have but one or two trails, perfectly armoured requiring little or no maintenance to placate either district council or riders.

And related, I have noticed "big bikes" are gone. They are all now "all mountain" (whatever the hell that means) and you cannot tell me that there is NO relationship to bike development and trail evolution. I personally love big bikes; there is no way it is going to break before I do. One reason I love my Monster T. There was a reason the freeride bike came into being. I remember all the broken hardtail frames and light bike frames that simply couldn't handle the Shore. The All Mountain bike might be nice for groomed trails, but on more gnarley trails, I wonder how they would fair with a steady diet. Who does a wheely drop anymore? One good one on the entrance of Ladies was destroyed for a lame gap jump. And that was a classic hardtail drop.

Don't call me a curmudgeon on this. I am a hardcore rider and defend riding against all forms of non riders (meat pylons) and will continue to do this so long as my body allows me. But I think of the generation coming up and wonder how the sport will survive with the "mountain" part of it when the trails are becoming something that is the antithesis of mountain? Where is the challenge of surviving a tough root section when none exist? I think of Neds and remember the inherent challenge it use to have being so rough, and now I see it as a fast downhill run.

I know I cannot change the world, or hold back the tide. I am for young, old and lady riders (and I fully remember the sausage-fest it was in the old days) but it seems to me the pendulum is swinging too far the other way. Last month, major life-threatening sabotage was seen on the Vedder. We need to strike a balance and I think stepping back for a moment and realizing how we got here might shed some light on where we are and where we need to go. And perhaps that might be taking a step back, whatever Monica Craver says.

May 13, 2014, 6:59 p.m.
Posts: 497
Joined: Nov. 11, 2004

Everyone wants to ride the Shore, but no-one wants to ride the Shore.

welcome to the bottom of my post.

May 13, 2014, 6:59 p.m.
Posts: 1933
Joined: Nov. 23, 2002

i agree in the sense that sometimes things have been removed where there really was no need. recall the fuss over the log on cardiac bypass? yes there was good reason for doing work on cardiac as it was sorely needed, but what would have been the harm in leaving that one log there? it wasn't a pit of death that riders had to negotiate, simply a small diversion for riders to have to maneuver over on an otherwise smooth and buffed trail. it could have been the type of thing that helps new riders build trail skills, shore trail skills.

edit - the only solution is to get involved and speak with your shovel.

Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity ~ Seneca

May 13, 2014, 7:14 p.m.
Posts: 7707
Joined: Sept. 11, 2003

But in the last 10 years I have noticed a real change

There were a lot of changes in the 10 years before that. I recall a period in the latter half of 90s where it seemed that mountain biking (then basically XC mtb) seemed to be going extinct on the North Shore. And I guarantee it will change again in the next 10 years. What those changes will be could be anyone's guess. Trends come and go, and are often of an inexplicable nature.

May 13, 2014, 7:28 p.m.
Posts: 26382
Joined: Aug. 14, 2005

pulls up chair and cracks a homebrew

www.thisiswhy.co.uk

www.teamnfi.blogspot.com/

May 13, 2014, 7:31 p.m.
Posts: 15600
Joined: May 29, 2004

I'm just glad I was there when I was (92-06). That was the heyday…good times all round back then.

May 13, 2014, 8:05 p.m.
Posts: 150
Joined: Oct. 16, 2008

Feeling like my buddy and I could have been the tipping point for you to writing this. Thanks for the talk on the way up

May 13, 2014, 8:08 p.m.
Posts: 3
Joined: Sept. 27, 2005

mu initial thought was "yadda yadda yadda - here we go again" same arguments for/against repeated over and over again. And im pretty sure that's going to happen. Obviously the original OP has not been following the ongoing 5+ year discussion regarding trail evolution on the shore - if he had he would know that all the points he brings up in his essay have been adressed time and time again. HE fails to consider the land-owner, he fails to consider the ongoing need for maintenance when it comes to old rutted out trails - (old blown out trails are not somehow fixed in their current state, they continue to erode and get even more blown out every year making them even less rideable) - yes the higher-skill technical lines dont see as much volume as expresso 2.0 and you should be thankful they don't or your precious old-school lines would be even nastier/gnarlier than you have ever seen them.

This dead-horse argument has been buried folks. Nothing to see here. move on.

PS - to blow your argument to even tinier bits of smithereens - my current favourite line on Fromme these days is Upper-oil can, into expresso 2.o with the original entrance, and a finish on lower skull - and I do it all clean on my Nomad - with 6" n 6". Maybe you just need to improve your skills a little more ? and im no grom either.

NSMBA has made it clear that it is their intention to first bring the current batch of trails they are focussing on up to snuff through the TAP program and organized trail days, and focussed trail work efforts, and they are making headway on catching up the the miles of neglected trails on the shore - once they catch up it has also been made clear that they intend on introducing higher level skills trails into their maintenance program. As Syncro said. If you really want to do something, pick up a shovel…maybe you already have done that and if so I apologize for the last statement, but from the contents of your post, it sure doesn't sound like it.

and enduramil .. piss off you lemming.

I'm ignoring Smedley.

May 13, 2014, 8:35 p.m.
Posts: 3
Joined: Sept. 27, 2005

ps… a vid from some groms shredding Ladies in its current state, then basically displaying a mastering of lower skull, on a small bike in the grease of March … yea there's no skill development happening on the shore at all….

http://www.pinkbike.com/video/353527

I'm ignoring Smedley.

May 13, 2014, 9:06 p.m.
Posts: 816
Joined: Jan. 31, 2005

I've been around for a lot of this evolution and I can't say I overly miss the FR days. They were awesome while they were happening and now we're somewhere else.
Bookwus and Grannies are some of my favourite lines on the mountain though it's all but impossible to get anyone to ride them with me. Luckily I really really like Espresso 2.0, Pipeline, Ladies in its current form and the Leppard traverse.

I see zero reason to ride Fromme on anything but my Enduro, which descends better than any FR bike I have ever had.

There's nothing better than an Orangina after cheating death with Digger.

May 13, 2014, 9:14 p.m.
Posts: 1081
Joined: Jan. 1, 2011

Don't call me a curmudgeon on this.

Why, do you prefer retro-grouch?

I have only been riding a MTB for 6 years. Mostly on The Shore. I don't own a big bike. I don't do wheelie drops. I don't like skinnies. I've never ridden Bookwus. I don't even ride that rock face on Dale's.

On a scale from meat pylon to hardcore, I don't really care where I am, because it doesn't stop me from having a shit ton of fun getting out in the woods and riding my bike.

Ride, don't slide.

May 13, 2014, 9:34 p.m.
Posts: 3651
Joined: May 23, 2006

.

http://www.pinkbike.com/video/353527

Watching that gave me vertigo.

Freedom of contract. We sell them guns that kill them; they sell us drugs that kill us.

May 13, 2014, 9:37 p.m.
Posts: 526
Joined: April 16, 2005

DH rigs are good for two things. Driving your fat ass to teh top, or sitting your fat ass on a chairlift. Bikes are for pedaling, and modern 6X6 will climb to any gnarly descent. Try it, and you will find the goods trust me. Builders aren't dumb anymore, shuttle sluts will destroy your trail in two weeks!

May 13, 2014, 9:39 p.m.
Posts: 816
Joined: Jan. 31, 2005

http://www.pinkbike.com/video/353527

Love that combination.

There's nothing better than an Orangina after cheating death with Digger.

May 13, 2014, 10 p.m.
Posts: 0
Joined: Dec. 3, 2004

DH rigs are good for one thing. BANGING LAPS!

FYP.

Shed head!

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