Journey through time
Story by Julia Hofmann
It’s been an excruciating climb, one with as much hike-a-biking as pedalling, but at last, we’ve arrived. Standing atop the highest point of Cronin Pass above Smithers the wind is howling; the air is cold. It’s been ten years since my first trip to Canada. Ten years since my first international mountain bike adventure. And as I stare out at the vast landscape of Northern British Columbia, I can see the long, flowing, epic trail I’m about to ride.
It’s the middle of August and each piercing gust hints that autumn is just around the corner. Despite our early start, the sun is now low. Shadows along the cliff bands lengthen and the colors of our surroundings begin to saturate. Feelings of peace and solitude complete this blissful scene, but I can feel the growing anticipation to drop in. The combination creates a sense of freedom inside me that washes me with happiness. From my extensive travels around the world to mountain bike, British Columbia is still one of the only places that host all the elements I love about riding. Well-built trails, a supportive riding community, and general love and appreciation for spending time in the woods.
When I was young my adventures started small – riding horses through the fields and woods near my childhood home near Lichtenfels, Germany – and grew to be grander over time. With each ride, I pushed myself to go a little further than before. The first true piece of singletrack I rode a bike on was a nice piece of trail, not far away, near my grandparents’ house. The special feeling of moving through the woods on two wheels was like nothing else I had experienced and chasing that feeling has continued to shape my life.
As an adult, I became so familiar with the forests around my home in Upper Franconia that I eventually began to look elsewhere for adventures. I started taking road trips to bike parks throughout Germany, then further on to Austria, Switzerland, Spain, and Italy. I’d read about British Columbia’s North Shore and seen videos of the Whistler Bike Park, but it seemed unattainably far away. It was several years before I’d even considered the possibility of traveling to a riding destination beyond what I could drive to. But the idea of flying to another country was there – somewhere – in the back of my mind and finally, it worked it’s way forward. Before I had thought about what I was committing to, I was standing at the airport ready to check in, heading to Canada.
I’ll never forget the feeling of landing on another continent for the first time, building my bike, and putting the tires into the dirt. Canada will always be a special place in my heart for this reason. The country feels vast with endless forests and mighty mountains, and to top it off there’s perfect singletrack that navigates the dramatic landscapes. The quality of trails is really what sets the riding here apart from the rest of the world. They are made specifically for riding rather than being repurposed old hiking routes. There’s something for everyone and the purpose-built climbs can be as enjoyable as the amazing descents.
As the sun disappears below the horizon line of endless peaks and ridges, the oversaturated filter begins to fade. It’s time to go as we’re losing light, and we have a long descent ahead of us. At the bottom of the mountain, a cozy cabin waits for us where we will stay for the night before moving on to the next incredible location. I lower my seat, start rolling down, and am treated to another unbelievable Canadian descent.
As I continue to travel around the world with my bike, I realize how the famous adage, ‘the more things change the more they remain the same’, rings true in my heart. All these years later, standing on top of a mountain on another continent, and I am still chasing that same feeling I discovered riding my bike through the forests in Lichtenfels as a child.
Nordvegr: The Way to the North
It’s normal to get home from a trip and feel like you’ve left something on the table. Whether it’s a trail you skipped out on or an area you didn’t have time to see, the things you didn’t do can be as motivating as the things you did. Thomas Vanderham and Remi Gauvin have both been to Norway before, but it’s one of those places that keeps drawing them back.
Much like a lot of Remi’s travel, his first two trips to Norway were for both for racing. Back in 2013 and 2014, Remi was racing downhill and competed at the World Championships in Hafjell. Thomas’ freeride background has put him in Norway twice before, but never in the world famous Nordfjord region, and never on his trail bike. Travelling to compete is a rinse, wash, repeat cycle. The process broken down is: airport to hotel, hotel to event, and a few days later you’re flying home. This trip was a chance to see Norway in a different light, and after landing in Ålesund and boarding what would be the first of many ferries, the small town of Stranda seemed like the perfect place to start.
The people along the way can be one of the most interesting parts of travelling. Located just up the road from our rooms in the Hjelle Hotel is the small town of Folven, home to Norwegian freeskier, Fred Syversen. Fred is a local legend who in 2008 unintentionally set the world record for skiing off a 107m tall cliff, but today he coaches skiing on the glacier, operates an adventure sports campground, and is building out the Hjelledalen valley mountain bike trail infrastructure.
Our Scandinavian photographer, Mattias Fredriksson, likes to joke around but with an underlying sense of sincerity. Early on in our trip he forewarned, “It’s hard to go on a road trip in Norway and still make dinner deadlines. I tend to shoot a lot…cause the shooting is epic”. It was a constant theme of the trip but the fjord views near Sandane had us especially late for dinner. The trails were above treeline which left us exposed to the harsh wind and rain, but the combination of fast riding corners, natural features, and stunning backdrop were just simply too good to cut the ride short.
With another trip under their belt and trails under their tires, Norway remains an incredibly interesting place for Thomas and Rémi. Newly built mountain bike trails with a strong historic culture of moving through mountains leaves plenty of room for endless adventures in the Nordfjord.
A Film by: Scott Secco
Featuring: Thomas Vanderham and Remi Gauvin
Produced by: Stephen Matthews
Post Production Sound by: Keith White Audio
Typography and Design by: Mike Taylor
Photography by: Mattias Fredriksson
Music: Pioneer by Ryan Taubert
Thanks to: Asgeir Blindheim, Fjord Norway, Visit Nordfjord, Veronica Vikestrand, 7 Blåner, Destination Ålesund, Sunnmøre, and Fred Syversen
Norway: The Characters Behind the Adventure
Behind every trip is a cast of characters with varied backgrounds and interesting outlooks. Individually, they’ve been brought on because they come with their own unique stories and skills and are strung together by a common thread; a passion for mountain biking.
I first met Mattias Fredriksson in 2010 while in Switzerland. He was shooting for Anthill Films’ upcoming film, “Follow Me,” and was incredibly friendly right from the get-go. His positive demeanor is contagious, and you can’t help but have a great time around him. Scott Secco and I first worked together in 2014 on his film, “Builder," and between the planning, building, and riding, we became great friends and have collaborated on several projects since.
Working for Rocky Mountain, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know and ride with our talented athletes. Needless to say, heading out on a trip with Thomas Vanderham and Remi Gauvin was an exciting experience. Our trip to Norway also gave us the chance to link up with local Nordfjord rider, Veronica Vikestrand, a born and raised Norwegian and a true asset to the trip.
RM: What’s it like coming to another country to film a video where neither you nor the riders have seen the trails before?
Typically, I do most of my work in British Columbia where either the rider or myself are familiar with the trails. Having prior knowledge of how a track rides and when certain locations will get the best light certainly helps the process. I normally rely heavily on rider input for which sections of trail to shoot: if the rider is having fun then I think it shows on camera.
It’s always a fun challenge to visit somewhere new since I think it forces you to have a more open mind and look at everything with an eye to creativity as I don’t have specific shots planned. Travelling gives me an opportunity to put myself in unique situations with people and cultures that are different than my daily life. I would say in general I travel more for the culture than the riding.
RM: What’s your process for reviewing and editing footage on the trip?
I’ve heard that I’m fairly unique as a filmmaker since I can’t sleep until I’ve gone through the day’s footage and edited it as tightly as I can. Editing what I’ve shot each day means the footage is fresh in my mind and I know which shots are my favourite. Plus, by the end of the shoot I’ll have a rough cut that’s often quite close to the final cut. The final benefit of this is that the riders can see what we’ve shot each day. I think this helps with their trust in me since they can actually see the footage (I can be a little slow sometimes to setup shots). I also respect athlete’s opinions on the video and Thomas and Remi had some great suggestions for this edit. Filmmaking is a team sport!
RM: You grew up in Sweden and have shot both skiing and biking in Scandinavia for many years. What’s the most special thing about Norway to you?
First of all, it might be the most beautiful country in the world. Everywhere you look it’s just insane! As a photographer I love this place because you just can’t go wrong. I like to joke (except I’m completely serious), that it’s hard to go on a road trip in Norway and still make dinner deadlines. I end up pulling over a lot to shoot the epic vistas.
I’ve been to Norway an uncountable amount of times in my life, both for personal and work trips, and I still haven’t gotten bored.
RM: You’ve had a long and varied career as a photographer. How did you get started in bike photography?
I grew up in the south of Sweden, 4 or 5 hours south of Stockholm, and started riding bikes in the late 80’s! Even before I had my first real mountain bike, I remember stripping off the kickstand, fenders, and chainguards to emulate the look of a proper mountain bike. My parents were choked because I came home muddy all the time, but I didn’t care, I was totally hooked.
Around the same time, I had started my own punk rock magazine called “Heavy”, was a drummer in a band, and I think that’s where I first found my passion for journalism. I loved writing about what I cared about, so at 16 started working for the local newspaper.
I spent my early career working for a handful of different magazines in Sweden, but I decided that writing in Swedish was limited compared to shooting images that everyone can enjoy! I shot the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta, US and World Championships in 1999, but other than that I stayed far away from shooting events – ha ha. I focused on inspirational stories and trips because that’s what was important to me. I started shooting mountain biking, because I absolutely love to mountain bike.
RM: What bike did you bring on this trip?
RM: Where did you grow up in Norway and how did you get into mountain biking?
Today I live in a small town just outside Ålesund and I’ve lived in this area my whole life. Living at the foot of the mountains and along rolling terrain separated by fjords, being in the woods and on the trails felt natural to me. I bought my first hardtail in the late 90’s, shortly followed with the purchase of the Kranked film on VHS. I was so inspired by what was happening in BC, that I bought my first full suspension later that year.
I tried downhill racing in 2004 but it just wasn’t for me. I’d get too stressed, lose my nerves, and just couldn’t get along with being forced into a format of riding. I think that’s why I first connected with Kranked so well, the idea of freeriding and using mountain bikes in whatever fashion you want was invigorating.
RM: As a born and raised Norwegian, how would you say the mountain biking scene in Norway changed over the past several years?
It’s been growing like crazy. New bike trails and bike parks are being built all over the country, and the enduro race scene has exploded. We’re also seeing a lot more “adventure-style” riders, taking inspiration from our backcountry ski and hiking culture. The riding here is very different than what you get in the Alps or North America, but mixed types of trail combined with Norway’s beauty is incredibly unique.
RM: How did you get involved with Rocky Mountain?
I have been working in the bike industry since 2008 with different brands. Right now I’m working for 7 Blåner, who has been the distributor for Rocky Mountain since 2016. I’ve always admired the Rocky Mountain brand and have looked up to what they stand for since I started riding in the late 90’s! The opportunity to now be helping show some of their legendary athletes around my home country has been incredibly exciting!
RM: What bike did you bring on this trip?
Same thing I've been on all year, my Instinct BC Edition!
RM: How did you first get involved with Rocky Mountain?
I got a call from (Thomas) Vanderham back in February 2014 while I was working on the oil rigs in northern Alberta. He said that Rocky Mountain was developing a new downhill bike called the “Maiden” and that the R&D team was looking for feedback from racers. I didn’t have a sponsor lined up for the coming season, plus it seemed like a cool opportunity. After that first season riding the Maiden, I started racing enduro in 2016, and am now committed to a full EWS circuit as a rider on the Rocky Mountain Race Face Team. I really owe it to Thomas for giving me a chance to come on board.
RM: As an EWS racer, you spend so much of your season travelling around the world to race. What was the coolest thing about travelling to Norway to film and shoot, rather than be locked into a racing schedule?
When you go to these races that are all in amazing places, there usually isn’t time to appreciate where you are and what’s happening around you. At an EWS race, you’re so focused on performing, that you miss out on seeing the local culture and beauty of these places. The pace of shooting photos and video is so much slower, so you actually have time to soak in where you are and learn about what’s around you.
RM: What bike did you bring on this trip?
Tried and true, my Altitude.
RM: You’ve been travelling to ride mountain bikes for a long time. Do you still enjoy the process, seeing new places, and not knowing what kind of riding you’re in for?
Absolutely! One of the things that makes filming mountain biking so great is the diversity of the environments we get to work in. We can shoot in jungles, deserts and everything in between which is one of the reasons that I think bike videos are so good. Mountain biking has facilitated a lot of my most memorable trips and I'm excited whenever I get a chance to go to ride in a new location.
RM: You were riding in Norway over 10 years ago. What was that all about?
I've travelled to Norway twice before. The first time was in 2003, I think. I was new to the Oakley bike team and we travelled quite far north to Narvik with Wade Simmons, Kyle Strait and Cedric Gracia. That was the first time that I worked with Mattias Fredriksson as well and experience the awesome energy that he brings to a shoot. The second time was in 2009 for an event called Anti Days of Thunder that was definitely ahead of its time. They had some huge jumps built that we got to session and also involved a team relay DH race (that team Canada won if I'm not mistaken!) Some of the guys involved went on to help start the FEST series.
See the full story, photoset, and video, “Nordvegr: The Way to the North”.
Introducing the new Instinct and Instinct BC Edition
Stable and aggressive, the Instinct is our most versatile trail bike.
With 29" wheels and a wide range of RIDE-9™ adjustments, the all new Instinct is available in both carbon and alloy models. An all-new frame for 2018 pushes the rear travel to 140mm, increasing stiffness and tweaking the suspension kinematics. Despite the increase in travel, the new frame has noticeably more efficient pedaling, with better small-bump sensitivity and a host of next-generation features.
In the same family, born in BC, we’ve turned the Instinct BC Edition into an aggressive trail monster.
Designed with an optimized link and long stroke shock that provide 155mm of rear travel and ultra-aggressive geometry, we’ve kitted out the Instinct BC Edition with wide bars, big tires, ultra-stiff wheels, and more capable suspension. It smashes all mountain lines, rails corners, and plows over everything in sight, while displaying all the climbing efficiency that makes the Instinct a crowd favourite.
Please head to your local Rocky Mountain Bicycles Dealer to order your new Instinct or Instinct BC Edition.
“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. The Instinct has handled every type of terrain I've thrown at it and even opened up new lines for me on trails I've been riding for over a decade." - Thomas Vanderham
Intended Use: Trail
Wheel Size: 29" (27.5+ ready)
Front Travel: 140mm
Rear Travel: 140mm
INSTINCT BC EDITION
Intended Use: Aggressive Trail
Wheel Size: 29" (27.5+ ready)
Front Travel: 160mm
Rear Travel: 155mm
Improved suspension performance
We’ve increased overall progression and support at sag, while making small-bump performance even more sensitive. Higher anti-squat values dramatically improve pedaling efficiency.
Next generation features
Comprehensive evolutionary updates across the platform include features like tooled axles, singlesided bearing pivots, integrated “Spirit Guide” chainguide, boost spacing, and metric shock compatibility.
Our RIDE-9™ system provides a wide range of geometry and suspension adjustability; it has been moved into the link for lighter, narrower packaging. Instinct BC Edition, with its increased travel, comes with a single mounting position in its link to provide the best balance of travel and geometry.
To add control and descending capability, we’ve increased reach, slackened the headtube angle, and lowered the bottom bracket. We’ve significantly shortened the chain stays to improve agility and used a moderately steep seat tube for efficient climbing performance.
- Increased anti-squat for better pedaling efficiency
- 29” Wide Trail and 27.5+ compatible
- Max tire clearance is 29 x 2.6, and 27.5 x 2.8 (3.0 with low profile knobs)
- Bearings at all pivots, including at lower shock mount (compatible with aftermarket shocks as well)
- Blind pivots maximize heel clearance
- Lighter, tooled rear axle
- All Instinct models include the FSA extend-O-matic headset. The bike ships with a second (taller) headset bottom cup, which allows the rider to opt for 27.5+ wheels without negatively affecting handling, and no fork swap is required.
- Improved cable management: large headtube ports, full shift housing, large downtube access port, and internal shift and brake housing within the front triangle
- Future-proofed to be compatible with Di2, Fox Live, and a dropper post simultaneously
- Seat-tube lengths have been adjusted to accommodate longer dropper posts at maximum insertion.
- Chainstay and downtube protectors. *Due to production delays, the initial shipment of 2018 Pipelines will not include chainstay and downtube protectors. They will be shipped to shops as soon as they’re available. The October shipment will have them installed.
- Integrated “Spirit Guide” chainguide, with 2-bolt ISCG05
- BC Edition features a dedicated link delivering 155mm of travel and fixed geometry
- 1x optimized design with wider main pivot
- Lower standover height
- Significantly stiffer thanks to one-piece seat stays, new envelope, and updated layup (47.7% more lateral stiffness)
- Modern parts compatibility (boost spacing, metric shock lengths, post-mount 180mm brakes, etc.)
- All sizes fit a water bottle in the front triangle, even with a reservoir shock
- Sizes: S-XL
- Frame & shock: 5.09lb (2310g), size Medium
- Frame & shock: 5.62lb (2550g), size Medium, Instinct BC Ed.
- Protectors, chainguide, & axle: 0.57lb (260g)
- Instinct Carbon 70 complete: 27.4lb (12.4kg), size Medium
- Instinct Carbon 90 BC Edition complete: 29.5lb (13.4kg), size Medium
We have a new naming convention In the interest of describing our lineup more clearly, we’ve updated our naming conventions. What used to be called Instinct 970 MSL is now Instinct Carbon 70, and what used to be called Instinct 950 is now Instinct Alloy 50. The Instinct still uses high-quality Smoothwall carbon and FORM alloy frames, and higher spec numbers still indicate higher end specs.Riders: Geoff Gulevich and Thomas Vanderham Photo: Margus Riga Location: Whistler, BC
Riders: Geoff Gulevich and Thomas Vanderham Photo: Margus Riga Location: Whistler, BC Riders: Geoff Gulevich and Thomas Vanderham Photo: Margus Riga Location: Whistler, BC Riders: Geoff Gulevich and Thomas Vanderham Photo: Anthony Smith Location: Mt Barbour, BC
Limited quantities and sizes available from August 24th. General availability from mid to late October. Please head to your local Rocky Mountain dealer to pre-order. Regional availability may vary.
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
Instinct in the Monashees
The plan was to head to the Monashee Mountains near Revelstoke, British Columbia with Wade Simmons and Kevin Calhoun to shoot an autumn alpine video for our new Instinct MSL. We wanted to showcase the bike’s versatility under two very different riders — Kevin is an XC racer on our Factory Team, while Wade’s contributions to freeride mountain biking need no introduction.
Of course sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t play nice, and an early cold snap provided on-and-off snowfall throughout our adventure.
Despite the challenging weather, we knew we had an opportunity to capture a unique aspect of the changing seasons. From Kevin’s dawn patrol ascent to Wade charging snowy trail features, the rapidly changing conditions ended up being the perfect way to showcase the Instinct’s versatility.
We’d like to thank the crew at the Sol Mountain Lodge for all their help with this project. Their lodge was a great base-camp and their trails were a blast even in the snow. We’ll be back again in warmer weather.
Thanks for watching, Love the Ride!