Words & Pics @wardor
Additional photos by @kylescully and @ridegradient and Kenjitsu
Vancouver: The biggest Canadian city on the Best Coast. So big that the nature-attuned among us must find methods of escape from time to time. One of the greatest features of the city is the proximity to beautiful mountainscapes and their associated forest service roads and trail systems. For our GTFO effort, we chose the Seymour Demonstration Forest area, as it is a longtime semi-maintained local route with plenty of swimming spots, technical areas, creek crossings, and absolutely perfect singletrack.
The keepers of the forest faith met at a locally owned cycle and coffee shop, VeloStar Cafe, for cortados, baked goods, and pocketable snacks. On our way to the woods, our numbers grew by fives and tens until we crossed the mighty Ironworkers Memorial Bridge into North Vancouver. Arriving shortly at the trailhead at a satisfyingly divisible number of 28, we adjusted tire pressure, had a snack and dropped in to the Forest Service Roads up into the Seymour Demonstration Forest. At this point, general stoke level was high, hills were climbed at speed, the tiniest bumps turned into jumps, and whoops and laughing at each other’s antics preceded us up the trail.
We very quickly reached the freshly built Seymour River Suspension Bridge over to the old Fisherman’s Trail. This section is rougher; running upriver, it leads towards the dam which marks the deepest section of the valley possible to reach. Washouts, ruts, and sections of baby’s head rocks make this the real meat of the gravel riding -- twists, turns and fun detours abounding.
Once the climbing was complete and the apex was reached, we all dropped into some perfect singletrack to descend back down towards the dam service road. At this point, it was decided that the weather was sufficiently nice to take a swim break at a beautiful rocky beach along the Seymour River. The downed trees from some forgotten storm provided both a relaxing aquatic seating area, and a prime ramp to huck gainers and other showy maneuvers.
After drying off in the sun, the group remounted and continued on down some more heavily wooded singletrack that western BC is rightfully so famous for. There is such a thing as perfection and any off road Vancouver cycling aficionado will tell you its name is simply ‘loam’. After exhausting the potential routes and ourselves, we eventually reached a fantastic paved section which led us back out of the forest at a leisurely pace.
Our ride officially ended at Black Kettle Brewing, where beers and burgers were consumed with abandon and freshly piqued appetites were sated. All in all, those of us riding from Vancouver proper strung together a 75km loop, gaining over 1100m in elevation. As any local in the know will tell you, with tongue firmly placed in cheek, “Demo Forest sucks for cycling, don’t come”.