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Feature - From the bar to the car to the gnar’

One day’s epic mountain bike ride in the Sea to Sky corridor

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"The Sea to Sky Corridor has the best dirt in the country, probably the world" he remarks casually as he refills my drink. "You should write a story on it."

A story about mountain bike downhillers? To "old schoolers" like myself, mountain biking is about exploring new places while getting some scenery, exercise and hopefully some fast downhill action along the way. But to downhill racers, it’s about having enough aggression and guts to descend through the gnarliest terrain, including drops up to 40 feet, log bridges and man-made teeter-totters. In this environment, the dirt is key.

"Squamish has the friendliest dirt around because the trails still have topsoil and there are so many of them," Tempany explains. "In comparison, the North Shore is almost down to bedrock in places. Whistler’s rocky alpine environment makes it the boniest place and Pemberton can get silty but right after rain it’s heaven. Some of the best riding around."

This bar-room conversation – like many before it – plants the seed for an epic outdoor adventure: The Sea to Sky one-day epic ride. The challenge is to see if six downhill rides at these four locations – the North Shore, Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton – could be chalked up between sunrise and sunset of a single day.

Tempany chooses his team from Squamish’s impressive pool of top downhill racers: Shaums March, a professional downhill racer originally from the States but now based in Squamish after marrying Canadian ski racer Aleisha Cline. Joining March and Tempany are three local high schoolers, 14-year-old Kyle Ritchie, 16-year-old Daryl LeDuke, and 2001 Under 17 Canadian national downhill champion, Travis Penrose. Each of their parents’ gave them a day off school to tackle the challenge.

First stop: Vancouver’s North Shore, famed for putting B.C on the map for hardcore downhill mountain biking.

7 a.m. Lazy Bay Café, base of Mount Seymour

On first impression, it seems that big hair and big bikes are the trademarks of the current high school generation of mountain bike riders.

After a quick shuttle to the top and squeezing their hair under helmets, the group disappears into the forest on the Mushroom Trail that leads to Boogie Man. Thirty minutes later they reappear at the café, exhilarated after their ride. This trail receives among the highest traffic volumes in Vancouver because it’s an easy shuttle and doesn’t get much snow cover in winter. However the group says work on the trail has made it a "sweet" ride. First time riders could expect to walk at least 30 per cent of the trail or risk flying over the handlebars with the numerous rocks, roots, steep bridges and drops you have to get over.

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