The water was coming down as a typical North Vancouver drizzle when we woke up. It was showering when we locked the bikes onto the bike rack at 6:00. It was fully raining when we picked up a friend on the TransCanada and hastily loaded his dripping bike into the trunk. And it was pouring when we got to the ferry in Horseshoe Bay. Not like the drizzle in North Van, not like the drip of early morning, nor the hydroplaning rain on the TransCanada, but the all-engulfing, bone-chilling, Goretex-penetrating, shoe-filling rain that only the BC coast knows best.
Our group of five riders bought ferry tickets with trepidation as we rolled our bikes onto the ferry destined for Langdale, on the Sunshine Coast. We were all thinking it, but none of us wanted to be the one to pull the plug on a big group ride just because of a bit of rain. Were we making the watery passage to only to be chased back down by weather?
As the boat drifted into the Langdale port, the storm persisted. We got cozy with
each other in the small departure terminal, with a handful of road riders dressed in garbage bag ponchos, also seeking a refuge from the deluge. Staring out across the passage, sheets of rain peeled across the ocean surface, and we wondered if we’d just spent our cash on a ferry crossing to the Sunshine Coast only to be rained out. Even the dog sat sulking, with her wet ears plastered against her head from the downpour, and her nose pressed to the window, hoping for at least a taste of the trails the Sunshine Coast is famed for.
Hopefully, and finally, someone piped up, “I think I see the clouds clearing to the west!” And with that, we were off like a shot, geared up and pumping up the big hill out of Langdale. The sun slowly burned through the thick cloud, and curls of mist began to pull away from the pavement. We crunched into the trailhead at Sprockids Park, happy to be off the pavement, and away from the ferry traffic. In the clear, fresh air, wisps of moisture evaporating from our backs, we were all ready for the long climb ahead.
The main climbing trail through Sprockids Park is a gorgeous, smooth and looping maze aptly named Sidewinder. Not to be that peppy and loathsome rider in the group who loves climbing (but I am), but this is one fabulous climbing trail. With minimal punchy pitches, steady elevation gain, and perfectly tacky soil that day, Sidewinder is a pleasure to climb. Gaining the shoulder, we linked up to Highway 102 and just cruised.
It became one of those perfect days when you exist in a perfect equilibrium between the precise spot on the trail that your tire is digging into, the dart of sunlight through the cedars, the happy hum of the hub of the rider behind you, and the joyful anticipation of the next corner on the duff ribbon ahead. Although Robert’s Creek was our mid-day destination, our enjoyment of the trail delayed us (read: we spent too long sessioning some excellent berms), and we discovered a new destination. Taking a right on a brushy sidetrail, we sought out a patch of sunlight in the dim Pacific rainforest. From the uphill edge of a cutblock, overgrown with alder and fireweed, rose old woodwork, jutting steeply against the ocean’s backdrop. Like a cedar ghost, a giant tabletop was nestled into the mist and spring vegetation. The entrance to the feature was long gone, so we monkeyed our way to the top of the plankwork and absorbed the warm rays of sunlight as they dried our gear, still soggy from the rain.
Being called out of our reverie by family dinner in North Vancouver fast approaching, we wistfully descended from our basking spot and began the glorious descent back to Langdale. Fuzzy Hugs feels aptly named – that is, if your hugs consist of lovingly smooth and steep switchbacks through the rainforest. Pineapple Express provided berms galore and gave up ample opportunity to really dig into the lovely coastal loam. Finally, Doug’s Detention provided us with some wonderful cruisy corners and jumps to conclude the day.
Zipping back down to the ferry, we all felt so grateful that our rainy day had turned into something much more. Our wonderful experience riding the Sunshine Coast was about so much more than just the riding that day. It was about the new friends and riding partners, bonding in the rain over our potential disappointing day. It was about the precious slivers of sunshine blazing through the dark rainforest and being grateful for each one. It was about discovering new places that we never intended to go. And it was about taking joy in the little aspects of mountain biking, and reminding us why we ride.
Here are the 3 reasons why you should get out even if it raining:
1- The weather may just clear up as you get to the trails
2- It improves your skills and increases your confidence in any conditions
3- It is really fun
Next time, when weather doesn’t seem to be cooperative, call a friend, remember that it may just turn out to be an amazing day.
Disclaimer: Please remember to choose trails that can withstand wet weather riding.