Shift in Perspective
The freedom that comes from riding two wheels is like no other. From the first time that you rolled past the end of the driveway, to the most recent ride on your favourite singletrack trail. The evolution of how you ride will change, but your love for the ride never should. Wade Simmons and Jesse Melamed are generational masters of our sport and are driven to push their own limits using new technologies to help ride trails in a new light.
"My motivation in mountain biking has always been to find creative lines and link uber-tech sections with fluidity. Having up to this point ridden 2.3–2.5 tires for 20+ years, I know the limitations. Now with the addition of the plus tire, I find my line choices evolving and that’s awesome to me!" —Wade Simmons
Creativity has always kept things fresh for Simmons. On the trail, he makes things happen that simply shouldn’t be possible, all while navigating extremely technical terrain with ease. He’s always been this way. Looking back at his segment in “Shift,” a breakout role for a much younger Godfather, it’s always been about pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
It’s become apparent to me that the big advantage of running plus tires is the ability to maintain momentum and speed over rough terrain. The tires eat rough for breakfast! It can be a bit more finicky dialing in the tire pressure, but once you find the right balance, it's game on."—Wade Simmons
Jesse is laser-focused, and his race results against the World’s fastest are proof. He knows when to go for it, and anyone who’s ridden with Jesse will attest that he’s all-in once his tires hit the trail. Commitment is in his character, and being able to unlock and tap into unconventional lines has set him apart at the EWS and back home in Whistler.
"Running plus tires is great for reminding me there is more than one way to see a trail. It opens my mind to what’s possible and helps me visualize the different lines when practicing for an EWS race.”—Jesse Melamed
"Riding the all-new Pipeline is like riding any new bike, it's fun and exciting! I like to jump around and play with the trail, and the Pipeline lets me get away with landing in even the roughest sections and calling it a “landing”. Every time I get away with riding a stupid line, it motivates me to find another one. It's my favorite way to ride a bike, and a trail." —Jesse Melamed
The all-new Pipeline has 140mm of rear travel, 10mm more than the previous version. Being able to fine-tune the geometry and rear suspension of the bike is made possible by the Ride-9 Adjustment System embedded on the link. Jesse, who is known for charging hard and as fast as possible, has his Ride-9 set to Position 1 which is the slackest and most progressive setting. Wade, who loves a supple top end and a bit more linear feeling suspension, prefers his Pipeline in Position 3.
"Jesse shreds, I love riding with that guy! He puts a smile on my face because he reminds me of myself when I was younger; just bouncing around on his bike trying stupid things. He’s who I would consider being a “true” mountain biker, someone who enjoys all aspects of riding. When we ride together we constantly challenge each other, and session sketchy features and fool around... this is what mountain biking is all about!" —Wade Simmons
A Film by Max Berkowitz
Featuring Wade Simmons & Jesse Melamed
Edited by Max Berkowitz
Typography by Mike Taylor
Photography by Robin O’Neill
In the Valley of the Sun
Stretching through high mountain meadows and down deep winding valleys, the trails of Sun Valley, Idaho are absolutely world class. The trails themselves hold a special feeling, built from the legacy of pioneers and visionaries exploring the region. Rocky Mountain Bicycles’ athletes, Thomas Vanderham and Sam Schultz, set out with their sights set on singletrack, tapping into their instinct for adventure.
"Spending a week exploring Sun Valley with Sam Schultz on the new Rocky Mountain Instinct was somewhat of a blur. Not just because chasing an Olympian up mountains at altitude is tough business, but because I quickly realized that there's a lot more to Sun Valley than the picture perfect single track it’s famous for.” - Thomas Vanderham
Mining, farming, and tourism have swept through Blaine County to meet the changing demands of passing decades. Adaptation and perseverance has kept Sun Valley alive, and forward thinking has led to developments such as the world’s first chairlift in 1936. Connecting with the area in a more traditional sense, American legends like Ernest Hemmingway lived out his life here, hunting and exploring the Wood River Valley, with an inspired take on the natural surroundings.
"Even after we rode some of the local classics, shredded new purpose-built singletrack, and climbed into the alpine to stay in a local piece of mountain history, it felt like we had just scratched the surface. I can't believe how much fun I've had riding the new Instinct. I was blown away by how effortlessly the bike carries speed, while improvements to the geometry and stiffness keep it nimble and stable. Next time I'll have to come for month, and I probably still won't run out of trails to ride." – Thomas Vanderham
The Pioneer Cabin was built by the Sun Valley Company in 1937 to help increase accessibility for skiers in the Pioneer Mountains. Ascending more than 23 relentless switchbacks through both wide-open grasslands and thick forest, the statement painted on the roof of the cabin, “the higher you get the higher you get,” is awfully matter of fact. The cabin builder, Averell Harriman, decided that the remote area around Sun Valley would be the perfect location for staging adventures, allowing people to spend more time exploring the backcountry.
"Living in Missoula, MT, I have no shortage of pristine, buffed out singletrack right out my back door. The big difference in Sun Valley is the immense quantity of trail and the ability to ride right from town and get deep into the rugged mountains surrounding the valley. It had been awhile since my last visit, which was in 2012 and I managed to take the win at the XC National Championships.” – Sam Schultz
The world has become a smaller place, yet the opportunity for creative rides and unlikely trail connections are still very real in Sun Valley. In a combination of paper maps and downloadable apps, navigating legacy routes is a harmonious blend of historical and modern adventure.
"I’ve admired Thomas’ riding in videos for years, watching in awe while grinding on an indoor trainer all winter as a 16-year old racing fanatic. I was truly blown away to see his precision on the trail in real life. Every turn, technical feature, and jump was nailed with absolute perfection." - Sam Schultz
" knew the trails were sweet and I was pumped to head there for more exploration on a bike designed for exactly the type of riding that has inspired me the most lately. The Instinct and I immediately felt like a match made in heaven. It was the perfect blend of Altitude and Element; fast feeling 29" wheels, plenty of travel to ride aggressively, rocket-like efficiency, all in a nimble package that is quite simply put, incredibly fun,” - Sam Schultz
"It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters in the end.” - Ernest Hemingway. Ernest Hemingway was an American Novelist and Nobel Prize winner who moved to (and was buried in) Ketchum, Idaho.
Presented by Rocky Mountain Bicycles
Featuring the all-new Instinct
A Film by Liam Mullany
Cinematography by Liam Mullany & Andre Nutini
Featuring Thomas Vanderham & Sam Schultz
Edited by Liam Mullany & David Peacock
Colour by Sam Gilling
Post Production Sound by Keith White Audio
Typography by Mike Taylor
Photography by Margus Riga
Denmark/ Van Gogh & Gone
Written and Performed by Psychadelic Porn Crumpets
All rights reserved. Used with permission.
Thanks to Gabe Schroeder, Sun Valley Resort
Powerplay: Wade Simmons in the South of France
I have always been an early adopter—whether it’s freeride bikes in 1997 or eMTBs in 2017. When Rocky Mountain asked me to be a part of the Altitude Powerplay’s launch video, I was instantly on board. Mountain biking is my life. Climbing, descending, XC, freeride, e-bikes, whatever. I live for it all, and I was excited to be a part of this. And maybe a little part of me likes rocking the boat.
I was involved in the “regular” Altitude’s development and I had given feedback on some of the early eMTB prototypes, but the goal of this project was to document my first taste of the production Altitude Powerplay.
We sat down and made the call to travel to the South of France, with its warm climate, spectacular trails, and delicious carbohydrates. Europe is leading the charge on eMTBs, so this was the perfect opportunity to explore what Rocky Mountain’s DNA would bring to the land of croissants and Strava-doping.
After a redeye flight from Vancouver to Nice and a few hours of driving, we arrive at our first shoot location and meet up with our friends Gaetan and Gaetan. Thankfully, one of them goes by “Baguette” (his last name sounds like du pain, and the French are serious about their bread).
I am jet-lagged to shit, but can’t resist taking the bike out for a spin. “Moment of truth,” I say to Baguette.
I was blown away. My exhausted, delirious enthusiasm in the film is genuine. That moment is me realizing that the possibilities of e-bikes are truly endless.
The next day, we find this perfectly scooped wallride that just begged to be ridden, but it has a rough, slightly uphill approach.
“I’m hitting that,” I call it out the moment I see it, but in truth I’m not sure it’ll work. I put in a few cranks and carve the whole thing first try.
What surprised me most was how the added power opened up new possibilities everywhere. I was able to keep things flowing and link that wallride up with all kinds of other features. This zone was too damn fun!
On the advice of Rocky Mountain EWS team manager Lilian, we eventually make our way down to Toulon for a change of pace. The terrain there is amazing—extremely technical, with epic backdrops overlooking the Mediterranean. It’s no wonder that this is a breeding ground for some of the world’s fastest riders.
Again, I am blown away by the bike; this time by the climbing. Although I got my start as an XC racer and I do love technical climbs, I’ve always enjoyed some help from gravity. The Powerplay turns that notion on its head, and I quickly take full advantage of the additional speed and flow on the punchy, difficult climbs the area had to offer.
Just keep an eye on the trail and don’t blow a corner! Seriously, don’t blow a corner.
I am keenly aware of how lucky I am to travel the globe riding my bike, but damn there are a lot of horrible wakeup calls. So, each morning (is 4am even considered morning?) I drag myself out of bed with all the grace of an angry, nearsighted badger, and we head out to catch first light.
“Not sure this is going to happen today” says Brian, our producer, cat-herder, and resident worry wart. We are engulfed in a thick layer of marine fog while getting our breakfast—remember when I said the French take their bread seriously?
The video team is worried the fog won’t clear in time for the sun to crack, but since we’ve come all this way...
We get unbelievably lucky. The fog breaks, swirling as it lifts over the craggy seaside mountains, and we are treated to an epic, unforgettable sunrise.
Forget about the bike! That moment, dropping in above the foggy ruins, was absolutely surreal. What follows is one of the best days I’ve had on the bike in a long, long time.
We wrap the film up that evening. There’s a certain excitement after a successful trip, when you know you got exactly what you were after. An oceanside cantina was the scene of some celebration that night, reflecting on good times and new horizons.
This trip shined a new light on mountain biking for me. There is a paradigm shift underway. I feel like we’ve only started to scratch the surface of what’s possible. Throughout this trip I realized I wasn’t riding an eMTB to make my riding any easier, I was riding an eMTB to open doors to things a regular bike couldn’t. This old dog is learning some new tricks, finding new lines on old trails, and having a blast. I can’t wait to see where it goes from here!
Ride more, further, faster. The Altitude Powerplay is an eMTB that actually rides like a proper mountain bike. It brings cutting-edge power to an aggressive trail bike, and opens the door to amazing terrain for all. The Altitude Powerplay is available in select European markets only.
Video by Liam Mullany Additional filming by Gaetan Riou Edited by David Peacock & Liam Mullany Produced by Brian Park Post production sound by Keith White Audio Photography by Matt Wragg Special thanks to Fred Glo, Lilian Georges, Edgar Martins, Tribe Sport Group, Gaetan Riou, Sarah Tatine, & Gaetan Dupin “Omar” Performed by Bayonne Courtesy of Mom + Pop By Arrangement with Hidden Track Music open.spotify.com/track/54f36LcrbW4X9XPtdBZr3N
The four horsemen. 4x4s. Four leafed clovers. Four letter words. Fourtified. Wade Simmons, Remi Gauvin, Vaea Verbeeck, and Carson Storch take their new Altitudes to the four corners of the earth.
Los Angeles, CaliforniaWords & riding: Wade Simmons Photos: Brian Vernor
We've had a winter for the record books up in BC this year. Great for skiing, not so much for riding. I'm twitchier than a cornered housecat when I can't ride, so I jumped at the opportunity to do some warm-weather shredding down in the Los Angeles area on the new Altitude.
Pro tip: 4am is a good time to head out the door if you want to beat LA traffic.
LA, I reckon, wouldn't be on most peoples hit-list for a great riding destination. Myself included. Being the largest city on the western US seaboard, and having the nation's worst traffic, I was starting to wonder why the hell we were going to LA in the first place. Could we escape the city and do the new bike justice? Our photographer and man-on-the-scene Brian Vernor picked us up from the airport, and within the hour he was easing my concerns over mindblowing tacos and coffee-infused horchata. He promised the riding would be as good as the food.
Just in case Vernor was full of shit, I had some ideas up my sleeve too. I've been in the area a few times in my 20 years of hunting around for lines to film, and I've left a few nugs untouched. I was looking forward to possibly hitting them up on this trip.
To be honest, my fears were 100% unfounded. The riding in the LA area proved to be plentiful and diverse. We rode flowy urban singletrack, loose subalpine trails, freshly built jumps and berms, and a few big mountain lines. Pretty much a mountain bike smorgasbord, all within an hours drive from the Hollywood Hotel where we stayed. Maybe the riding is even better than the food...
Derby, TasmaniaWords & riding: Remi Gauvin Photos: Dave Trumpore
The second round of the Enduro World Series brought the Rally Team to Derby, Tazmania. Built only three years ago, we were racing on 7 wildly varying stages across 57 kilometers with 1700 meters of climbing.
Mild sunny weather during practice gave way to rain on race day, throwing many challenging trails into pure chaos. Stage two held the much-feared meter-wide crack on Detonate, with multiple riders being chewed up inside and spit out into the rocks below, but the real challenge of the race was at the top of stage 4 where rain washed the supporting dirt out of a high speed rock garden filled with holes.
I'd been working hard to adjust to the changing conditions over the race, and as the day wore on I started feeling stronger—bagging a 4th place finish on stage six, it was pretty fast and constant high speeds, which suit my style. Stage 7 was a short woods section with a sprint to the finish. It was kind of like riding the trails of the North Shore, which helped. It was kinda cold and miserable, and you didn’t want to be that dirty but you just keep going.
At the end of it all I fought my way up to 9th overall—finally achieving my goal of cracking the top 10 at an EWS. The Rally Team took the team win, with the whole crew putting up strong results. This puts us all in a place where we're happy, but getting fired up for the next round!
Sunshine Coast, British ColumbiaWords & riding: Vaea Verbeeck Photos: Margus Riga
With the snowline down to sea level in Vancouver, I wanted to be able to get on the gas and see how the new bike would respond. The obvious choice was the Sunshine Coast. It has unreal riding conditions almost year-round, and the Coast Gravity park has some of my favourite trails ever.
I love it there. The people, the ambiance, beautiful Sechelt, they all make it a destination of choice. [although for some reason all of Sechelt uses Papyrus font... what gives? -Ed.] CGP is one of the places that helps me feel good about going fast on the bike again during the off season. The guys work tirelessly to keep their trails impeccable, and it offers a perfect variation from the tech of the North Shore.
We had a tight weather window to shoot before a major system moved in, we were excited to get a few clear days. It was beautiful and dry, but oh so cold! With the cold came trails like glass covered in pine needles—always trying to throw me on my head! The perfectly sculpted corners had this incredible layer of hoarfrost that made for eerie noises and a surreal ride feel. I'm not sure if I had too much grip or not enough.
Despite being intimidated to send it into some of the natural terrain with challenging conditions, I quickly got used to the new whip and started opening up the throttle. Bluebird days, CGP's keys in my hand, untouched berms to myself, and sending it on my new favourite bike—this was definitely the highlight of my off season, and I quickly forgot about the sub-zero temperatures.
I'm thankful for those few days of shredding, and I'm going to keep the good times rolling through the season!
Queenstown, New ZealandWords & riding: Carson Storch Photos: Tyler Roemer
Riding the Fernhill Loop above Queenstown was epic every time. It has a little bit of everything. Climbing up through a mix of alpine terrain, going into native forest with quick descents here and there. You end up at the McGazza memorial, pay your respects to the big man, then drop into salmon run- which is a mix of steep techy trail, and loam. I would say this bike was made for that loop.
I also rode Skyline bike park in Queenstown quite a bit, so I had it set up in the slackest RIDE-9 position. The suspension was set up fairly stiff with slow rebound. When I 450'ed that hip in the bike park, it was completely comfortable! It felt like I was on a slopestyle bike. Then when I got back to ripping trail, it was snappy and responsive, while taking some pretty big impacts with ease. All around ripping bike.
New Zealand is my favourite place in the world, so having the chance to go my favourite place and test out the new Altitude was a dream come true.
Presented by Rocky Mountain Bicycles
Featuring the new Altitude
Directed by Liam Mullany
Produced by Brian Park
Featuring Wade Simmons, Rémi Gauvin, Vaea Verbeeck & Carson Storch
Filmed by Liam Mullany, Harrison Mendel & John Parkin
Edited by Liam Mullany
Colour by Sam Gilling
Post Production Sound by Keith White Audio
Original Music by Thinnen
Gullyver's Travels: Episode One
I've crisscrossed the globe as a competitor for many years, but I rarely ventured beyond the mountain resorts that contests are held in. As I get older, I've started pushing to escape the industry bubble and get off the beaten path more. The premise behind Gullyver's Travels is to motivate everyone to step outside of their comfort zone and explore new places.
Episode One takes place in the French Alps and features long time friend and Rocky Mountain teammate, Tito Tomasi. A world traveller who also happens to be a phenomenal mountain biker, Tito has ridden some of the most remote places on earth. His personal motto is vive la vie, and we intended to do just that.
The next morning, an early rise followed by four hours of carrying our bikes on our back was all made worth it when we arrived at the snow-covered summit of Grand Glaiza. After enjoying the spectacular views, we pointed our bikes down the 10,800 foot descent that lay in front of us.
Once back in town, Tito and I parted ways. He was off on another adventure and I was off to Bike Park Chatel for some big rig rippin'. It's no wonder why the Bike Park Chatel locals are all shredders, the park is filled with trails that have great flow and a number of sizeable features.
After two days of racking up vertical, it was time to head home. A big thank you goes out to Tito for being an amazing tour guide, and to Bike Park Chatel. Their hospitality is always second to none.
Until next time, see you on the trail!
Elements of Victory
Of all the events we attend every year, nothing makes us quite as proud as BC Bike Race. A seven-day international stage race, it's amazing to see so many people from all over the world enjoying our backyard’s choicest trails. It’s a tour of British Columbia’s rugged coast, and some of the world’s most challenging cross country singletrack—all explored while camping between the Pacific Ocean and the coastal mountain ranges.
This year’s 10th annual BC Bike Race was the perfect occasion to give our updated Element platform some real-world marathon XC testing. Bikes and bodies were pushed to the absolute limit over seven days of racing. The weather was wild, the trails were aggressive, and conditions were perfect to put the Element through its paces.
22 year old Quinn Moberg is a young rider from Squamish, BC that’s been with us for several years. It’s been incredible to see him develop into a true force to be reckoned with on the XC circuit, and he had some lofty goals for this year’s BC Bike Race.
Bike Check — Quinn Moberg
“BCBR is probably the roughest cross-country race around. This year’s race was especially cold and wet for all seven days, and I went through the whole race without a mechanical. I think that really says something about the quality of the gear I was running.”
“The new frame was a very big deal for me. I was immediately more confident technically, but also felt more efficiency from the suspension. On this new frame I choose not to run a shock remote, simply because I don’t think it’s necessary. Along with the new bike I was using the new Shimano XT Di2 for the first time. I found the electric shifting to be intuitive and lightning-fast, which was especially helpful when riding unfamiliar trails.” — Quinn Moberg
- Frame: Element 999 RSL T.O. (size Large, Quinn is 5’11”)
- Setup: Neutral RIDE-9™ position
- Shock: Fox Float DPS Factory (100mm, no remote)
- Fork: Fox 34 Factory (120mm)
- Drivetrain: Shimano XT Di2
- Cranks: Shimano XTR
- Brakes: Shimano XTR Race
- Wheels: Stan’s NoTubes Valor
- Tires: Maxxis Ikon 2.2 EXO TR 3C (23 psi front, 24 psi rear)
- Bars: Race Face Next 35mm (10mm rise, cut to 740mm)
- Stem: Race Face Turbine 35mm (80mm)
- Grips: Race Face Half Nelson
- Saddle: WTB Silverado Carbon
- Seatpost: Race Face Turbine dropper post (100mm)
- Pedals: Shimano XTR Race
- Weight: 23lb
Stage 6: Squamish, Presented by Shimano
The Squamish stage is always a crowd favourite. From raw, steep, and technical singletrack, to smooth, flowy jump trails, there’s a reason that Squamish is on a lot of riders’ bucket lists. There’s something for everyone on this stage, but after five previous stages it’s got the potential to crush even the strongest riders.
- Distance: 53 km / 33 miles
- Climbing: 1,944 m / 6378 ft
- Average Time: 4 hours 57 minutes
- Winning Time: 2 hours 43 minutes
With one stage win under his belt already, Quinn had his eyes firmly on taking top-spot on his home terrain. But, with a strong field in play, and several competitors working together to protect the lead from the young local, a win in Squamish would be no easy task.
Quinn’s racecraft belies his years, and he came into the day committed to the strategy of winning on the descents he was all-too familiar with. He executed his plan by pushing hard to enter the opening section of singletrack three corners ahead of his nearest competitors, and then proceeded to nail all his lines while his opponents’ small mistakes began to stack up a time deficit.
From there, Moberg held onto his lead and put several minutes into the rest of the pack. Arms up across the line, he’d accomplished his goal. These 55 kilometers of racing have been the competitors’ favorite stage over the last few years, and to take the win here was a massive accomplishment.
As BC Bike Race celebrates its ten year anniversary, we’re reflecting on where we have come from. The event, our bikes, and the trails here have all evolved in parallel. The bikes we race today, with advanced suspension platforms, dropper posts, and properly aggressive geometry, are nothing like the past. Neither are the trails that are built by dedicated clubs and meticulous trailbuilders. As for the event, it’s evolved from riding a lot of gravel and piecing together little bits of flow, to riding a ton of handcrafted singletrack masterpieces.
“BC Bike Race is a rough, tough, seven day singletrack adventure. Throughout the week, bikes and bodies take some serious abuse. The best bikes for this event aren’t pure XCO whips or enduro sleds, but something else instead. This year I rode the new Element, and it excelled over multiple days of demanding terrain, and delivered a hell of an experience. I’ve ridden many different bikes over the years, and I can say without hesitation that this is the best bike I’ve ever ridden.” — Andreas Hestler, BC Bike Race
“Racing at home is a bit different than racing anywhere else for me. I feel a strong sense of community here and there are so many people that support me and allow me to do what I do. I put a lot of pressure on myself to win races at home because I treat it as my end of the deal. People in town support me, cheer for me, guide me, and motivate me. This is my way of giving back to all those people.” — Quinn Moberg
Thanks to the whole BCBR crew, the many volunteers, and all the trailbuilders for helping make this event possible! Thanks to Tristan Uhl's moustache for existing, Tippie for keeping the stoke high at all times, and Andreas Hestler for repping BC on a global stage. Thanks to Manuel Weissenbacher, Andreas Hartmann, Greg Day, Sammi Runnels, Udo Bolts, Carsten Bresser, and all the other racers who came to battle it out. And of course, a huge congrats to Quinn Moberg for taking two stage wins and claiming fourth in the GC!
See you all next year!
Video by Mindspark Cinema
Photography by Margus Riga & Norma Ibarra
Shoulder Season Shred
Injuries are setbacks for athletes, but they can also bring opportunities to try different things. With Andréane recovered from a broken hand and me getting over a broken collarbone, we thought it would be fun to get out and do this bicycle thing together. No clock, less stress on our bodies, but all the fun.
We wanted to get out of Vancouver, and headed to Pemberton to explore the meadows around Tenquille Lake. We got Thomas Vanderham to join us, as well as photographer Margus Riga. A freeride legend, an enduro racer, and a downhill racer, all going for a trail ride. Quite the crew!
I have very little experience in backcountry riding. It wasn’t until Brian, the Rocky Mountain marketing guy, lent me his PLB (locator beacon) that it hit home—we definitely weren’t back in the bike park. However, Thomas and Margus both have tons of backcountry experience, and we all felt at ease going into the ride.
It was a nice day as we started in on the climbs for the day. A rain cloud hit us during the hike-a-bike section but the warm sun was poking through. The flies kept our snack breaks short.
We came to a trail intersection. Either head straight into the trail we had planned on shooting, or go up another 2km to reach Tenquille Lake. Margus thought the cabin up top would be a pretty sweet spot for part of the shoot. We all wanted to see the lake and cabin up in the alpine, so we changed the plan and headed up.
I thought our feet couldn’t have gotten any more wet until we hit a river crossing, but as soon as things headed downhill I forgot about my soaked feet. I’m not sure if it was because the technical riding was keeping them warm or because they were frozen numb.
The trail wove through all sorts of natural scenery. The top of the trail was rocky and shaley, before making its way through a burn from a forest fire a few years ago. Eerie and beautiful.
The lower we got, the greener our surroundings became. By the end of it, the trail was so overgrown you couldn’t see 20 feet ahead, or your feet for that matter. That didn’t stop us from keeping our speed—it just spiced things up when blindly catching loose rocks beneath.
We finished the day at a perfect camp spot on Lillooet Lake. Food and drink are always more enjoyable after a day like this.
The next morning we had hopes of checking out a trail up Duffy Lake Road. We’d done some researching on the trail access and Margus had been in that area some 20 years ago, so it would be easy to find. Right?
This was getting Riga’d 2.0. We drove around endless fire roads that had undoubtedly changed over the years of logging. We went a little further, a little more, and some more. The wide access roads became double-tracks, and then stopped entirely.
We returned to town to regroup. Some things happen for a reason, and as soon as we hit the paved road again, we got smashed by a torrential downpour. Not the “grit-your-teeth-and-bear-it” kind of rain, but the “oh-shit-this-is-bad-and-I-have-hypothermia” kind of rain. We were decently prepared, but if we’d been on that trail it would have been a bad scene.
The haphazardly laid plans of mice and men were saved by the good old Pemby trail network! Our bud Dylan Forbes swung by to join us for a few laps, and we were all fired up to ride some of the best trails in the lower mainland.
This wouldn’t have been a Margus Riga trip without getting a little Riga’d. Oh! And I should mention that ALN checked her GPS and could see Tenquille lake on the map! It was there, just past where we had stopped and turned around. Next time…
Words by Vaea Verbeeck
Photos by Margus Riga
Additional photos by Brian Park & Thomas Vanderham
Return of the Rockies
The iconic peaks of the Rocky Mountains embody a particular wildness, a disdain for the manicured and curated experiences of the modern world. Rocky Mountain Bicycles’ namesake mountain range holds a special place in our heart. We knew this year that we were overdue for a return to our roots - our bedrock.
"Growing up in Edmonton, the Rockies represented the epitome of rugged, large scale terrain,'' says Thomas Vanderham. ''My trips to the Rockies have been few and far between since I left the prairies, so the opportunity to spend time in Fernie on the new Slayer was one I looked forward to all year. It did not disappoint - panoramic views, huge descents, impeccable trail building, and a tight-knit mountain bike community.''
This was my first time riding with Florian Nicolai, and it's easy to see what makes him one of the top EWS racers in the world. He's got natural speed and an eye for ultra creative lines on the trail. We had an incredible time, and I hope that my next trip back to the Rockies isn't too far away.
Elk Valley locals tell a story about William Fernie, who asked a Ktunaxa chief about the black coal rocks hanging on the necklace of the chief’s daughter. The chief showed him the source of the coal on the condition that Mr. Fernie married his daughter, but the prospector backed out of the agreement. The chief then cursed the entire valley, and it would suffer a series of fires, floods, and mining disasters at the turn of the century.
The supposed curse was lifted by Chief Ambrose Gravelle of the Ktunaxa Nation on August 15th, 1964. However, if you look at Mount Hosmer on summer evenings, you can sometimes make out a shadow of the chief’s daughter standing beside the ''ghost rider'' on his horse.
"I was in a window seat, jetting west across the mountains of British Columbia. I stared out at the grandeur of sun tinted snowy crags and knew that what separated my adopted home in Edmonton from the native soil of Vancouver was a massive rock formation called the Rocky Mountains. I thought about naming our new company after these peaks." - Grayson Bain, one of the original founders of Rocky Mountain Bicycles, 1981.
The jagged summits of the Three Sisters peaks that overlook the Elk Valley are massive beds of sloping marine limestone, called the Palliser Formation. Most mountains are younger than what they’re built on, but Fernie’s craggy peaks are literally upside down. 360 million years ago the area that would become the Elk Valley was much further south, close to the equator, and the Pacific Ocean was only 80km to the west.
Dinosaurs roamed the land and earthquakes shook as the tectonic plates smashed into each other, fracturing massive pieces of stone along huge thrust faults. 180 million years ago, the old limestone sea floor was pushed upwards along those thrust faults and over the younger stone - turning the mountains upside down.
''I was excited to have the opportunity to work on this project. The first day I couldn’t believe I was riding with Thomas Vanderham - he’s a legend to me, and I love watching his signature style and whips,'' EWS racer Florian Nicolaï said of his time with the Canadian freeride icon. ''This was also the first time I rode the finished product of the Slayer, but it only took me one run to get used to it. It surprised me how good it is for different trails and terrain.''
The trails in the Rockies are so different from France, or anywhere else I've ridden on the Enduro World Series. The day we rode in the alpine was special. Riding raw freeride trails with Thomas right behind gave me a little pressure, but the views were beautiful and it was so much fun. It was an amazing experience, and I hope to return one day soon!
The scale of the Rockies is sobering. From geological upheavals to megatons of rock carving the landscape as glaciers advanced and retreated, the forces that have shaped these mountains are almost unimaginable. This place has a unique way of making humans feel insignificant and reminding us that today’s landscape is just an impermanent snapshot in the earth’s geological history. It’s an honour to explore this terrain, its stone and loam, on two wheels.
Welcome to the Family Vaea Verbeeck
Vaea has been part of the Rocky Mountain family for a while now. We filmed this little shredit with her last year, but ran into some computer issues before we could share it. She's currently on the mend from a collarbone injury in Lourdes, but she's chomping at the bit to get racing in Lenzerheide next month.
Who are you and what are you all about?
My name is Vaea Verbeeck. I was born in Tahiti, French Polynesia, and raised in Granby, Quebec. Growing up with my mom and older sister didn't stop me from being a total tomboy. I’ve always wanted to be the best at every sport: gymnastics, dancing, swimming, skiing, snowboarding, climbing, volleyball, soccer, you name it. But after progressing and learning, I’d stall in my motivation. They just weren’t for me.
At 16 I borrowed a downhill bike at Bromont, and I was hooked. The following year I got myself a bike and it didn't take me long to register for a downhill race. A few years later I was entering World Cups and knew that I’d found my sport. After finishing school in 2012, I rushed straight to North Vancouver and have been living the mountain life dream ever since.
I’m currently working at the Lululemon Athletica head office during the off-season and pulling the plug every summer to race the World Cup circuit.
Not scared, strong, calm, bike park tracks (lame I know), rocks, jumps.
PEDALLINNNNNNG uphill. That shit is hard on the body and mind. I'm also pretty good at breaking bones, not gonna lie. I got my fair share over the years, it's a fine line.
What's your favourite race?
I think my favourite race was World Champs at Hafjell, Norway in 2014. I’d gone a couple of days early and just enjoyed the park there. I loved the track; good jumps, good high-speed technical woods, and good corners. Seemed to suit me well too, I got 6th—my best result so far.
Tell us about what you do off the bike. What are your off-the-bike goals?
Life without bikes exists?
I spend a lot of time working out, indoors in the winter. Plus I take full advantage of the West Coast outdoor lifestyle: hiking, snowboarding, camping, bouldering, and food. Love food. #activities
I'm happiest at races. Over the years I’ve developed a sort of second family at the races, and rolling through the pits with your mates on the way to practice is perfect. It maybe doesn't feel that exciting when you're out there, but when I’m out with an injury I have major FOMO.
What bikes are you riding right now?
- Rocky Mountain Maiden
- Rocky Mountain Altitude Rally Edition
- Rocky Mountain Flow
How do you set your bikes up? Anything unique?
Slack and low to plough through the rough stuff. Otherwise pretty standard.
Who's your favourite rider?
I'm scared to watch sometimes, but Brook MacDonald. Wild lad. Open throttle!
What is on your playlist right now?
Right now: ODESZA, Jupe, some Rihanna, Kilter, Tim Legend, Møme. It's all over the place.
- Vital MTB
- Youtube (gotta watch them Supercross replays somehow)
If you were the boss of mountain biking, how would you change things?
Easy. I started racing because I loved discovering new tracks and challenges. If logistics and finances could allow it, I would love to see new race tracks every year! New places and new experiences.
Goals for 2016-2017?
I've been on the mend getting back from different serious injuries over the last few years. The goal is to stay on the bike more. Being off the bike is the last place I want to be. Setting my limits and be in the game for the next few years would be the best.
I am eyeing up another National Champion title. I always want to better myself and my results. So technically, improving on a 6th place would be a World Cup podium. However, I am going for my best performance, not a result. I'll be happy to get back to races and give it my best. It's worked for me in the past.
A bunch of rad people! Rocky Mountain and Hope Tech make it happen for me. Also, Troy Lee Designs, FiveTen, Oakley, Atlas Brace, Rockwell Watches, Crankbrothers, and JFG Nutrition for making me sweat a ton.
Go out and play!
Video by Brian Park, Music by Sonny Parmar. Photos by Sam Needham courtesy Hope Tech. Additional photos by Brian Park and Margus Riga.
Dumbing Down the Shore
Wade Simmons finally speaks out on what he calls the "de-gnarification" of Vancouver's North Shore.
With apologies to Keyser Söze.
Featuring the new Rocky Mountain Pipeline
Starring Wade Simmons, Brett Tippie, Geoff Gulevich, Eric Lawrenuk, Andreas Hestler, and Todd "Digger" Fiander
Created by Union Co.
Produced by Brian Park
Thanks to the NSMBA for all their work
Photography by Margus Riga