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Oct
09

Disneyland

Disneyland is a ride I have wanted to do for years , I’ve seen pictures taken up top with Howe Sound in the background in magazines and calendars and it’s one of those rides that was on my hit list., Kira booked the heli and we soon had the five we needed for the trip, Kira, Noel, Steve, Eric and me.

Steve summing up my feelings having just been dropped off, oh yes!

Its described as a big day out by Kira, which is kind of scary cos she doesn’t usually mention things like that, usually its just a ride from here to there and she fails to mention the hard work involved inbetween.

It’s not unusual for it to take 8 to 9 hours to ride down off Goat Ridge after being dropped off by the heli from Brittania Beach, with this in mind we had a huge breakfast, drank plenty, then sat in the horrendous traffic on highway 99 from Whistler, which is undergoing major construction work in readiness for the winter Olyimpics in 2010.

There’s not too many people who know the route down off the ridge, there are choices of routes the lower down you go and it takes some doing to link up the best sections and prevent too much in the way of hike a biking.  The trails we follow have been created by trails bikes, riding UP the mountain, respect!

Our heli was waiting for us on the beach as we kitted up and double checked everything in our bags, camelbacks full to overflowing, snacks, tools, gloves , helmets, its not a ride to forget something, dropped off on the top of a mountain with upto 9 hours riding ahead of you, it pays to double check.

Before we gather the bikes in the sling we loosen all of the levers and controls, just in case any of the banging together they are going to have in the short flight causes any damage, the bikes go first and we follow.

Watching Darren’s precision at take off was pretty cool, he had landed on a small flat area, directly above the rocks on the beach in front of the trees you can see in the picture below, there wasn’t much room for him but he eased the heli out and gently lifted the bikes up allowing them to settle together.

Noel, making sure nothing tangles as the slack is taken up by the heli

Heli rides are always something special and this one didn’t disappoint, the views over Howe Sound to Vancouver Island and inland across the snow capped mountains were just breathtaking, huge grins all round.

heading for the waiting bikes, just to the right of the small tarn.

Noel checks all the bikes on landing making sure all is in order and no one has a blown brake hose or damage to someting vital that would spoil our epic day ahead, once the heli is unloaded and the bikes are checked  we give the thumbs up and in a few short seconds five of us are stood on Goat Ridge, in the silence, watching our ride up disappear to it’s next job.

We faff with bikes and kit, throw a few rocks off a cliff, listening to them echo as they bounce off and create further slides, taking the scene in for a while before we head off in a random direction, there is no indication as to where our route may be, everywhere is down from here.

Howe Sound

Initially we pedal, we walk, we carry our bikes before an obvious trail appears and disappears ever downwards.

Before we get going we have our only mechanicals of the day, I snap a chain within sight of our drop off point, Eric donates a snap link and we are soon underway, Kira’s bike develops a previousley unheard noise, what you need in a situation such as this is the bikes’s designer to come to the rescue, fortunatley we had just that man, in the shape of Noel, designer, builder and guru of all things shiny, www.knollybikes.com.

Eric riding out one of the first rock steeps

The terrain is constantly changing as the buff singletrack sections turn to loose scree then rolling rock slabs, initially its pretty steady away, similiar to stuff I have ridden before.

Steve Stylin as he heads down into the Alpine.

I am very aware of the exposure of being in such a remote place, a mechanical now or a fall and an injury could scupper the day for all concerned.  Its steep, loose, gnarly and its going to get steeper still.

After the initial warm up heading down off the top and down through Alpine it begins to get steep, with a capital F!

We are in the thick of the trees now and the trail is covered with pine needles and the general debris of a woodland floor, grip is sometimes hard to come by and your arms pump from braking, keeping your speed in check as gravity pushes and pulls you down the side of the mountain.  I only managed to get a couple of snaps of Steve as we headed out of this section, its too steep to stop and stand on the trail, the only option is to stay on the bike and keep rolling, falling off here……its gona be a long time before you stop rolling.

Look at the gradient in this first picture before Steve levels out in the second, we had been riding that gradient for 10 to 15 minutes with virtually no let up, the satisfaction of cleaning this section was incredible.

Noel and Eric taking a much needed breather

It’s not all downhill tho, this place is Goat Ridge and there’s a fair bit of henious hike a bike to deal with too, this is the last, bigget, longest and hardest, saints be praised…it really was all downhill after here!

We take the opportunity to get in one final shot with the huge view in the background, from here its back into the trees and the opportunity to ride the various rock faces

I used the excuse of not wanting to injure myself for the forthcoming Nepal trip and took the chicken shoots round some of the rock faces……have I mentioned it was STEEP.

Noel, with his nads tucked well out of the way!

 Noel rolling out

Awesome Rock, a bit blurry but you get the idea.

As days go this ranks up there as one of the biggest, with over 5000ft of the steepest descending you can imagine, its physically and mentally tiring, not for the faint hearted.

We did it in about 6 and a half, testiment to the pace that Steve set up front in blind probe mode, we missed one turn on the way resulting in a 30 minute faff but apart from that Noel and Kira  linked all the best sections together to give us Disney virgins a day to remember.

Huge thanks to Kira for organising, Noel Steve and Eric for being a great team to ride with, also thanks to Eric for providing some of the pictures used in the artcile.