Summer Twenty12 B.C
By Vinay Menon
Location: Vancouver – CANADA
Also featured in Issue #12 | Nov 2012
The summer of twenty twelve came along super plush for me with Nepal’s Mustang region escapade, Bengaluru Turahalli DH race Podium and tons of good old Pune City hometown trail rips with buddies. Soon enough the heavy monsoon clouds were taking over my town. It had been two years since Id hit the bright trails of B.C. Canada, so escaping to B.C. it was! With Bengaluru DH Race dirt still fresh on the downtube, I packed in my trusty old Specialized Demo 8 (Oak Bay Bikes) and cruised the clouds into Vancouver, B.C.
This summer visit I was teaming up with my buddy Alex Salikan from Vancouver City. A trials rider in the concrete forest, Alex rips through the root infested trails of North Van when the trees come calling. After stepping into the time zone and building my bike it was time to spin those dirt hungry wheels. Vancouver has a neat Dirt Jump park right in the middle of the city. Our first warm-up zone for what we had lined up for the next few weeks. Some dirt hits later we caught up with the trials riding soldiers of Van City. Ready to fight the park benches, stair sets and ledge drops, these saddle-less bike shredders were destroying one street spot after another. Kevin Liu, Chris Hii, Olivier Regniere, Robby, Brandon Law, Sam Song were hopping their way through Van City structures like there was no tomorrow. Once this urban war had sublimed, Alex, Florian Graeber and I opted to hit Mt.Fromme over the weekend. A bright sunny day sneeked in the light through giant trees over trails like Upper Oil Can, Ladies Only and tons of other master pieces of shovel love. After couple of laps down the mountains age smoothened trails, it was time for me to hit the road to Saskatchewan with the FLOW Riders.
Joining the FLOW Riders crew this summer was definitely a highlight of my B.C visit. “Dangerous” Dan Cowan, Mike Laudrum and Andrew Baker (Banshee Bikes) packed in the FLOW Bus with Ramps and ladder bridges hanging on the trailer. While we drove through the flattest roads like sleep deprived zombies, the summer temperature was hitting its peak more like what you would expect in India. As Chocolate milk, sunflower seeds and malt beverage kept the van awake; we were entering the town of Regina, our destination for the demo over the next one week. Our venue, the fair grounds in the middle of the city was building up for the week’s carnival. With its giant wheel, grub stalls, product booths and a flood of the city’s population, our mountain bikes were sure screaming out of the chaos. Assembling the FLOW Show ladder bridges and kickers at the venue didn’t take much effort, thanks to the well-designed setup ‘FLOW Show’ has come to be known for. Day 1 of our demo was a little dull as the rains kept us rolling slow. But as the week turned along, clear skies smiled upon us and got Mike throwing down his signature ‘suicide no handers’ and clicked X-Ups on a heavy D monster of a bike. While Andrew Baker was tossing himself off the 15ft step down on a hardtail, both of them kept the awestruck audience wide mouthed as they navigated across the dreaded ‘Skinzilla’ and the demented ‘Discombobulator’. Every FLOW Show includes a local shredder in the mix. The town of Regina has a handful of air friendly riders around. One of them, Mason Blackmore maintained the air miles off the 6ft kickers with ‘three pointers’ and styled whips. As “Dangerous” Dan used the microphone to glue the spectators to the flowing rush, I opted to get a better aerial view of the event, tossing off the step down and launching off the bright green kicker all day juggling between my bike and camera. Having three shows a day and full blast evenings, I was super stoked to able to join the FLOW Riders unit for the summer. With a week of riding at the festival, our green van rolled out of Regina town, Vancouver bound.
Once in Vancouver city, joined by Alex, a Greyhound wagon rolled us into the mecca of mountain biking. Home to wicked trails like A-Line, Schleyer, Crank it up, Freight Train and infinite more, Whistler is one of the most visited bike parks on the planet. If that wasn’t enough, the Crankworx festival pulls in a sea of bike fanatics from around the globe. Landing into Whistler Village surrounded by bikeosapiens and good weather we spun full swing grabbing the seasons pass and hitting the Gondola. Since our Whistler schedule was spanning almost three weeks, it was sure to be one insane visit. Crankworx is one of the best times to be in Whistler if you want to high five your favorite Pros down the mountain. It sure gets a little clogged up on the trails through the weekend with a gazillion riders spinning wheels all day. But how many times in a year one could ride all morning and then check out the biggest riders of the sport battle it out for the most coveted titles, for an entire week all on one mountain. Crankworx Whistler is where its at! Being joined by some of our German bros from Van City, Florien Graeber and Florien Stier the Whistler trails were seeing an extremely stoked clan! For Alex and me, riding the double black trails most of the days was part of the plan and the super techy sections on ‘Goats Gully’ were a challenging punch for me. Occasionally training behind Andrew Baker (Banshee Bikes) on the trails, sure got us speeding down some previously lagged sections. While in Whistler, few of my friends from Victoria, B.C joined in as well. Denise Howden and Derek Kidd who were an integral part of my 2010 ‘B.C Bike Parks’ trip, were teaming up with us for the weekend. With Derek blasting out on a 650b, shredding down the mountain slopes with my old gang brought back some memories. Along with an insane time on the trails, witnessing some of the finest riding ever seen, Whistler Bike Park during the Crankworx week is unexplainable. One has to experience it firsthand! The three weeks in Whistler just buzzed by before we could even burp out the trail dust.
Next up was a visit to “Dangerous” Dan Cowan’s home trails. The trail asylum on Bowen Island! Only seen in the bike videos and magazines, I was advised by some of the godfathers of the sport to be on my game if I was thinking of riding the Bowen Island trails. And I was not surprised when I arrived on the island off the ferry. Dan was hosting our stay through the visit. With tons of good times ahead and legendry tales on our mind, Alex and I hit the Bowen Island Community Bike Park for couple of warm-up runs down ladder bridges and teeter-totters. The park which is only a few minutes ride from Dan’s house has couple of dirt doubles, super skinnies, the ‘discombobulator’ and a few more of Dan’s mental inventions. All free to be ridden/walked for the masses. While the island’s population is pretty sparse, the trail force of Dan Cowan, Mike Laudrum and a few more hard working soldiers, is a clan that’s dug and ripped some of the gnarliest trails on the planet, let alone the island. The hills are dark with century old trees and trails that are apt for the vertically challenged! With a mix of super skinnies, big air flight runways, creepy roots and loamy descents, techy bar rumble chutes, the trails on Bowen are a work of art that can only be appreciated by the spinning wheels of a flying bikosapien. Training behind Mike and Dan on their home turf was intense. These guys sure know a thing or two about FLOW! As for Alex and me, navigating through some of the legendry skinnies, blasting down magnetic steeps and launching off of some beautiful drops was a real high. Bike park sessions, followed by shuttling up the mountain and BBQ at sun down was the routine we maintained through our visit. Bowen for sure is calling us for more shred, soon! A big thanks to Dan and Natalia for letting us bunk at their beautiful home and all the good food! It was now time for Alex and me to transfer ourselves from Bowen Island’s tree barks to Van city’s concrete pillars.
While Alex was flying out of town on vacation, I joined Andrew Baker and his buddy Braden Hughes for some more speed laps down Mt.Seymour in North Van. One of the oldest trail networks in B.C, Mt.Seymour never disappoints. A sunny day had us running into our buddies digging on the trails. These volunteers need a pat on their back for keeping the local trails in the best possible state each season. Thanks guys for all the shovel hours!
With high fives, crash scars as souvenirs and catching up with old buddies; my 2012 B.C visit was summing up with a 24hr flight back to Mumbai, India. Onto the monsoon saturated mountains of Pune with home boys, the backyard trails never get old!
Big thanks to Alex Salikan and his parents for putting up with me. Dan Cowan, Andrew Baker and Mike Laudrum for the wicked trail laps and mad times. Martin Littlejohn (Bike Parks BC) for all the support. Thanks to all of my buddies who made this visit a pack of good times; Olivier Regniere, Denise Howden, Derek Kidd, Diarmuid McNamara, James Peacock, see you all soon!