The Longest Day

Today marks the shortest day of the year, December 21st. The Winter Solstice. It's the perfect day to reflect back to when temperatures were warmer, rides required less layering, and daylight lasted for what seemed like an eternity. Six months ago on the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year, we set out with the silly idea to ride 100 kilometers in a day on the North Shore.

Here in North Vancouver we are incredibly lucky to have three mountains flush with diverse trails that are all within spitting distance of each other. We hadn’t planned on doing a classic North Shore “Triple Crown” (riding up and down all three mountains in a day) but we knew that that was our best option to collect the kilometers we needed. With a route created to snag all the steeps and deeps, all hands were in and alarms were set.

Our start time was 5:00 AM at Panorama Park located in Deep Cove. Eight sleepy souls with eyes at half-mast feverishly stuffed food, layers, and tools into their packs along with copious amounts of coffee into their bodies. With our tires ceremoniously dunked into the calm waters of the Cove we began our mission.

You never know what you’re going to come across in the forest. Old rusted out pots, glass mason jars, beer bottles, broken china plates, all pointing to a very different era in these woods. 

With Seymour done and dusted there were two mountains that lay ahead of us. The signs of how tough riding on the Shore can be began to show with our Garmins only reading 35 KMs after one and a half mountains.

After navigating our way across a steep, sandy slope where a landslide had occurred a couple of years prior we figured we should probably stop again. While we definitely weren’t hungry, we knew that if we didn’t keep feeding the fire it would burnout without hesitation.

“I needed that Vaseline earlier. I wish I knew Dre was packing it around before we did all of that climbing.” — Kevin Calhoun

With the light fading, dirt and rock transitioned to gravel and pavement, we were at the homestretch. Pedaling through the streets of Horseshoe Bay we arrived at the parking lot where cold beers and salty potato chips awaited us.

"Once everyone is tired and things are starting to get weird, that's when you find the character within, and you truly know the grit of your friends."  Andreas Hestler

"Everyone in this group impressed the hell out of me. Eight of us tearing up the climbs and fully pinned back down! Bunch of legends!" Jesse Melamed

With the sun dipping below the horizon we submerged our tires into the waters of Horseshoe Bay and the journey was marked complete. The numbers were in: 3706 metres of climbing, 3712 metres of descending, 15 hours and 42 minutes in the saddle, and 87.1 kilometres travelled. We all decided that even though we had come up short on the distance that we set out to do, it was one hell of a hard ride that included some of the best trails on the Shore. We did it all in one day, and as a group without any losses.

A special shoutout goes to Margus Riga who made this entire journey with a massive camera bag strapped to his back all while hitting rad lines and leading the climbs with flats to boot!

Photos by Margus Riga
Words by Scott Pilecki