Photo by Nicolas Teichrob. Story by Brice Minnigh
Don’t get us wrong: We at Bike love to ride the complete gamut of trails, from primitive animal paths and pristine alpine singletrack to demanding
downhill courses and manicured jump runs. But while every trail has its own appeal, few can match the flow and feel of an expertly crafted, mountain bike-specific masterpiece. Here’s why:
Most trails designed specifically for mountain biking
are like rides in an amusement park: They are built to
thrill, with features intended to maximize the fun you
can have on a bike.
They make you ride better. Though any trail can eventually
help you become a more skilled rider, those made
to extract the most from the natural landscape will inevitably
induce speed and style—and will put the rider in
greater harmony with the terrain.
They are more sustainable. Modern trail-building
concepts help ensure that trails will be around longer,
that they will shed water efficiently and retain their
form under significant levels of traffic. While oldschool
fall-line trails will always have a certain rollercoaster
appeal, it doesn’t take them long to turn into
nearly unrideable trenches.
Mountain biking should not be viewed differently from
most other action sports. Skateboarding has parks and
ramps. Skiing and snowboarding have groomed runs.
Motorsports have speedways designed to test a vehicle’s
limits. The increase in trails and parks built specifically
for mountain biking merely reflects the growing validity
of our sport.
Like the austere beauty of a Japanese Zen garden, a
beautifully sculpted trail is a stand-alone work of art. The
greatest are masterpieces of engineering and aesthetics,
and they set a paradigm by which other trails are measured.
The most progressive trails are pivotal to the evolution
of riding, with big berms and jumps that force us to turn
faster and send it higher. It’s no coincidence that the highest
concentration of advanced riders in the world can be
found in British Columbia—the place with the highest concentration
of advanced trails.
Just as world-famous waves are magnets for surfers,
the planet’s most celebrated trails represent milestones
to dedicated mountain bikers—and they become mini-
Meccas in their own right, attracting riders from all over
the globe. Many mountain bikers won’t feel complete
until they’ve shredded on Vancouver’s North Shore or
bombed down some of Whistler’s legendary jump trails.