Photos by Derek Dix
Words by Seb Kemp

A 5 a.m. start on the trails means lots of last minute preparations, red eyes and tired grunts.

As the earth spins like a spinning top, it tilts and sways on its axis. Twice a year the planet reaches its maximum axial tilt towards the sun, at which point the sun reaches its highest position in the sky. Although the very moment that this occurs is just an instant in time it also results in the day that has the longest period of daylight. For humans the summer solstice has remained a special moment of the annual cycle of the year since Neolithic times. It is celebrated in various ways all over the planet. For many mountain bikers it is a day to launch onto the trails and attempt big rides that start early and last till every last moment of sunlight has been made use of.

This year Bike Magazine was invited to join twelve very keen and motivated riders who were going to cram an entire week’s worth of riding into just one day. Starting in North Vancouver and linking up rides on the Sunshine Coast, Squamish and Whistler, it was a big day of pedaling, carefully planned ferry crossings, and new and old trails ridden. As we thumped through famed and fabled trail zones there was always one eye on the clock and another on the sun as it tore across the sky. By the end of the day we had clocked in around 70 kilometers (43.5 miles) of singletrack, 3,000 meters (9,842 feet) of descending and had worn the same chamois for 17 hours straight.

It was exhausting, but thrilling to see so much of the Sea to Sky corridor of British Columbia. Hip flasks were shared, punctured tubes were repaired together and everyone came out unscathed. The group never set out to establish a feat of endurance or prove their mettle, it was just a bloody great excuse to sign off on everything else that clutters our daily existence and just ride.

And ride and ride.

Huge thanks to Banshee Bikes for inviting us, organizing the logistics and herding the cats. Thank you to all the riders that came out to celebrate the sunlight that day: Dennis Beare, Miranda Miller, Jon Staples, Chris Heynen, Adam Mantle, Kevin Landry, Derek Dix, Scott Secco, Chris Courtney, Keith Stark, Fraser Newton and Jon Hadfield.

A lot of people were strangers at the start of the day, but the first trail certainly helped break the ice.

It was so dark that headlights would have been useful. When would the sun rise?

Midsummer's day? Well, no one told the weather.

A classic North Shore descent was the group's wake-up call. Greasy, dark and raw.

It was barely 7.30 a.m. by the time the first nautical vessel was boarded. A greasy-spoon breakfast and lots of coffee at last.

Midsummer foliage blows by on the Sunshine Coast as the coffee does its job.

Kevin Landry finds his mojo deep in the Sunshine Coast forest on ride #2 of the day – a long, punishing 30-kilometer loop, which felt like more elevation gained than elevation rewarded.

Chocolate-covered coffee beans? Why yes, I don't mind if I do.

It's not all wood work and headaches in BC, but when in Rome...

It was nearly mid morning so the adult energy drink came out.

This beastly cedar was felled, but obviously deemed too big or difficult to remove from the forest. Many years later it lies as a reminder of BC's heritage.

Miranda Miller (red hat) is a bit of a bully. If she isn't hustling slower riders along she is berating anyone who won't take her enduro aspirations seriously. Not quite.

A quick water taxi ride from the Sunshine Coast to Squamish was deemed the most efficient means of transport.

Safety first, refreshments second. As the group cruised up the Howe Sound some slept, some were glued to the views.

It would be rude not to line up for a friendly lap of the Squamish BMX track, wouldn't it?

A a quick slash of the gravel pit was in order too. Kevin Landry is no stranger to steep slopes.

Refreshments from the 7-11 and straight to the Whistler Bike Park for was meant to be just one cheeky lap but turned into several because it was just so much fun.