This is a resurrected story from an old site. This was a great day in my biking pasttime. I still remember it fondly.
This is the day I have been dreaming about for a while. Some mountain bikers have heard of Brittania. More have heard of Disneyland. This was my destination. I awoke at 5:30. My alarm was set for 6 am. I was to meet Noel and others at the 99er restaurant in Brittania at 7. I got there early and ordered some breakfast.
As more bikers gathered I had more and more trouble believing that it was actually going to happen. With breakfast over I gathered my gear, got dressed, grabbed my bike and my pack, signed the obligatory waiver (mountain biking is an inherently dangerous sport …), and made my way over to the pad. Our group size was 13.
What a downdraft as they land.
It blew one guys full face helmet away. The pilot got out, gave us a speech on how the heli works, then took the first group of guys to the top. Next he came down for the bikes. Two more groups of guys went up, then all that was left was Noel and I. I jumped in the front seat and prepared for my first helicopter flight ever. At this point I had a few butterflies in my stomach. It was too late to back out, and the scary thing was that I didn’t want to. The lift off was incredible. Up and out over the water, then up up and away. We circled around the mountain, and Noel and I talked with the pilot with the headsets. The pilot pointed out to me some of the stuff we would be riding. Wow, a guided tour up the mountain.
A few minutes later we land at the top. Elevation 6500 feet. Destination elevation 2 feet. The sky was a perfect blue with no clouds in sight. The temp was chilly, but with all my gear on, I didn’t notice.
Everyone goes about getting ready to ride. Final preps are made, armour strapped on, helmets done up. I couldn’t get over the view from up there. I felt like you could see forever.
To give an example of how chilly it was, if you look at the surface of the pond in the pic below, you can almost make out the icy surface.
We begin the ride/trek across the alpine area. We hit some steep loose rocks, hike some uphills, cross some snow patches. All the while I feel like I am in some weird dream. Am I really doing this? I guess so.
Then we hit the trees. The trail turns downhill. I mean, it really turns downhill. Steep, loamy soil, twisting it way through the forest. Johnny, takes a nasty bail, bouncing of a flat rock, then cartwheeling a couple times. He is alright, but it is a reminder to me to pay attention.
I stop at one section to take a few pics. This is Tony, later nicknamed mudslide
Some guy from Utah. Good rider.
I pack in the camers and continue flowing the trail. It is so steep and weaves so much. You get as far back behind the seat as possbile, and still it is not enough. I am going down this hill whether I want to or not. The only way to stop is to crash, and I don’t want to do that. Weaving the front tire around I maintain my balance and keep myself heading downward.
I pop around a corner, and the trail just disappears. I see some rock at the top, then I see the trail continue below. You get down via a rock face. Smooth as butter! Here is the other Utah rider doing the face.
Knolly rolls it like it was a bump in the pavement.
It is brought to my attention after a couple hours of riding that we were only a third of the way down. Immediately I think to myself that even if the ride ended now, the money spent was more than worth it. We hadn’t even got to the good stuff yet.
The first big granite rock we hit was the Lions Back. Most people just ride it, but some were airing off the top. Here is Jeff just about to air.
If you look carefully, Knolly’s tire is just leaving the ground.
Here is a shot of me riding the Lions Back, but from a different angle. I may be big and steep, but it was a blast. Super smooth, and a nice transition to dirt before it flattens out.
Some more hike a bike, and we stop at the cabin for some lunch. Here is Bill relaxing
I just couldn’t get over the views.
More steep fun was ahead. I love riding steep trails, and this one was no exception. As I was skiing my bike down one trail it occurred to me that I was going to fast. I was modulating the rear brakes to the best of my abilities, and I could feel the rear locking up then turning again. The only thing left to do was get my centre of gravity a little lower. As I tried to ease my butt back a little more, I felt my tire buzz my Roach pants, then promptly felt the buzzing stop as my butt locked up the rear. Woops, too low!
We then came to a nice rock formation holding Andre’s edge, and Andre’s face. What you can’t see in the pic is the runout of 10 feet on pea gravel. After the ten feet is a smallish cliff (25/30 feet). Bill making the edge look easy.
Warren about to drop in on the edge.
Mannis doing the face
I was all lined up to do the face, then chickened out. Grrr. I know I could have done it. I am sure I could have even done the edge drop. I still have issues with committing to lines every once in a while.
The day was going perfect. Almost too perfect. Something gave. One guy and our sweeper took a wrong turn. It was an unfortunate set of circumstances. Noone waited at a Y intersection. Fortunately the sweeper was in radio contact with the leader. We waited for them to catch back up, the continued along at a slower pace.
We now needed to gain some serious altitude. The trail just went up. Up, up, up, up. Bike on back kind of up. Nasty kind of up. We got to the top, and had a break. Another group met up with us and passed us. That was alright though, we were taking a break.
The next big rock drop was Awesome rock. It was HUGE. I watched several people from the other group ride it, and somehow our group just continued on past the other group. Quickly Noel and I found ourselves the only ones left. Noel rode it, but just after I took the picture I knew it wouldn’t turn out very well.
Next it was my turn. I have ridden the Elevator drop at my local trail system many times. It is similar, but awesome rock is bigger, steeper, and scarier. I was at the top and looked down. Man, what am I doing? I had seen people do it, so I knew I could do it. I was having a great day, and knew I could ride anything put in front of me. I began my roll up. Then stopped. Uhh, you can’t see the line you take until you are commited to taking it. Hmm. OK, I back my bike up. I am going to do it this time. I begin the roll up, then clamp on the brakes again. You got to get within a foot of the big lip to see the final line, but to get that close you got to be committed. You can’t stop. Noel tells me that the tranny is smooth (I can see that), he tells me to stay centered on my bike (I can do that), the line is easy (my mind is playing tricks on me). OK. A couple of deep breaths, I being my third roll up. My mind is working about ten times faster than normal. I think to myself STOP!!! Before I can think to grab the brakes, my mind says fuck this, trust Noel. I keep repeating in my head, trust Noel, trust Noel, trust Noel. I let go of the brakes, and head over the edge. I can remember the near vertical, I can remember the tire hitting dirt. I felt perfectly centered over my bike. The transition was smooth. I grab a fist full of brakes, come to a stop, let the bike fall, throw up my arms, and let out a huge yell! That was the biggest adrenaline rush I have had in a long time. Talk about a natural high! It was such a sweet feeling. Here is me on awesome rock.
After this it was another steep, much more loose and dusty trail back into Brittania and back to the vehicles. Me and Noel after the days ride.
My final shot from the roll was the during drive back to Squamish. Mental note, looking through the view finder while driving is not an experience for the faint of heart.
Did I enjoy myself? Hell ya. Would I do it again? Guaranteed. This heli trip was about the most perfect you could make it. The group was a very strong set of riders. The weather was absolutely perfect (no clouds, perfect temp). The trails conditions couldn’t have been beaten. The rocks were grippy, and the soil was perfect for traction. Any drier and it would have been a dust bowl, any wetter and it would have been really slimy. Just perfect I tell ya. This is the stuff that dreams are made of.