Cumberland – Mud and Blood!

Here is the mud!

Here is the mud!

In the post below I mused that I was starting to miss the cool/damp of winter riding conditions after much heat and dust lately. Well the Bike Gods were listening. The Dirt Hombres headed up to Cumberland BC for the weekend and Saturday delivered on the damp. No real rain, but previous day’s wetness was still present on the trails so we got a taste for mud and wet roots once again.

Saturday's ride - click for larger map and GPS track...

Saturday’s ride – click for larger map and GPS track…

Our fine local hosts Jerry and Mark showed us a great route up to Race Rocks and Trent River Canyon. I can’t tell you the names of all the trails we rode, but it was a fun day of slipping and sliding in the forest.

The Dirt Hombres do Cumberland...

The Dirt Hombres do Cumberland…

I recently attended a mountain bike clinic put on by Drift Mountain Biking. I’ve been riding dirt for decades, but there is always more to learn and I was using my newly honed skills in Cumberland to reach faster speeds and better flow than ever before. All was going so well until I lost the front wheel on a wet wooden structure and had to leap off my bike at the top and try and land on my feet. It mostly worked out with some minor damage to man and machine. Nothing that couldn’t be fixed with zipties, electrical tape and beer! πŸ˜‰

Looking down in the shower I was impressed by the amount of mud and blood coming off my legs!

Sunday's ride map - click for larger and GPS track...

Sunday’s ride map – click for larger and GPS track…

Oddly enough Sunday’s ride was more rainy, but the trails were drier. It was supposed to be easier, but instead of one big climb the smaller more frequent climbs still felt pretty tough! We got to ride quite a lot of the BC Bike Race course over the 2 days which was cool.

Thanks again to Jerry, Mark and Brian for taking the time to show the Hombres around. πŸ™‚

Hornby Island…

Hornby Island trails are grin inducing...

Hornby Island trails are grin inducing…

The Dirt Hombres Mountain Bike Club was conceived around a campfire at Hornby Island last year so it was only fair that the Hombres descended on the island for some shredding in 2014. It’s not hard to get people excited about the little island’s quiet buff trails and chilled out vibe. As people rolled into Ford’s Cove Marina Campground we counted a 35 strong posse of riders.

Friday's warm up ride...

Friday’s warm up ride… – click for GPS track

Despite not being too far from Victoria the 2 ferries required to get to Hornby Island make it a ~5hrs trip. So we took Friday off and went up in the morning so we could sneak in a ride before everyone arrived and settled in.

Buff singletrack...

Buff singletrack…

Unlike Vancouver Island that features very rough techy riding Hornby offers smooth flowy trails that you can ride without needing to hop, skip and jump over obstacles. It actually feels a bit wrong at first like your bike is broken and then you realize it’s just buttery smooth.

Saturday's big ride...

Saturday’s big ride… – click for GPS track

As you can imagine 35 riders in a small campground made for a very social atmosphere. Luckily nobody partied so hard they couldn’t get their butts in gear for a big ride on Saturday. We split up into 4 smaller packs to keep things manageable and accommodate everyone’s speed. The map and GPS track above is the ride I was on.

A gaggle of Hombres...

A gaggle of Hombres…

First Wave...

First Wave…

2nd wave...

2nd wave…

Even more Hombres!

Even more Hombres!

By the time the last group got back to camp Saturday evening there were lots of happy, but tired mountain bikers milling around with open beers telling lies about the day’s adventures.

Bikers only - WTF??? ;)

Bikers only – WTF??? πŸ˜‰

Not only did have have an amazing trail network to explore that we could ride to from our campground, but we saw hardly anyone on the trails that we didn’t bring with us to the island.

A lovely view from the top...

A lovely view from the top…

Although it rained everyday at some point it was never while we were riding or hanging out in camp. So the rain on served to keep the dust down – not our spirits. Thank the Bike Gods! πŸ™‚

Deep forest...

Deep forest…

Our local Victoria trails are techy and slow so going lightspeed at Hornby was a ton of fun and a refreshing change of pace.

Sunday's ride... - click for GPS track...

Sunday’s ride… – click for GPS track…

On Sunday we got out early for a ride that cherry picked all the most fun trails and then headed back to the ferry for the trek home.

A spicy band of Dirt Hombres!

A spicy band of Dirt Hombres!

Thanks to everyone that joined us for a fun weekend of riding and laughs. Let’s do it again next year! πŸ™‚

Cumberland May Long

Sky high!

Sky high!

A fine crew of Dirt Hombres spent the May long weekend up in Cumberland BC camping and riding.

Day 1 - Ride Map [click for larger]...

Day 1 – Ride Map [click for larger]…

Day 1 – Saturday 17 May’s ride featured torrential rain on the road portion of the ride to and from the trails with the Bike Gods turning off the hose just as we hit the dirt. In fact the trails were so dry it was hard to see sometimes due to the dust from the riders in front.

The Crew...

The Crew…

Organizing 15 riders and getting them around some techy trails was a challenge, but it was well worth it to see so many smiling faces during the day and hear all the laughing and lies being told around the campfire at night. πŸ˜‰

Day 2 - Ride Track [click for larger]...

Day 2 – Ride Map [click for larger]…

Day 2 – Sunday 18 May featured a shuttle up to the top of Forbidden Plateau. Like the day before it rain at the start and end of the ride, but the skies were blue and sunny while we were turning pedals on dirt.

Jerry [left] our guide for the weekend and Brian on Forbidden Plateau...

Jerry [left] our guide for the weekend and Brian on Forbidden Plateau…

Jerry kindly volunteered to show us around the trails for the 3 days we were in town. I met Jerry through MTBR.com so he was willing to give up a bunch of free time and help herd some strangers through each day. If you’ve ridden with a big group of mixed abilities and speeds you know that’s not a cake walk. Thanks Jerry! You rock!

Day 3 - Ride Map [click for larger]...

Day 3 – Ride Map [click for larger]…

Day 3 – Monday 19 May we went back to the main trails at Cumberland and those that were feeling strong tackled a bigger/higher loop with Jerry and his friends while the rest of the Hombres stayed lower and enjoyed a more chill ride.

Aaron in Search and Rescue yellow...

Aaron in Search and Rescue yellow…

Cumberland’s extensive trail network is impressive in its scope and quality. The riding is much faster and less rocky than the riding we do around Victoria which is a lovely change.

High speed fun...

High speed fun…

Add in a very friendly community of local riders and you can see why we love heading up to the mid-island to ride.

Sharon on the move...

Sharon on the move…

We liked it so much that first thing we did when we got home was plan another trip to Cumberland in late June. πŸ˜‰

Dirt Hombres gang colours...

Dirt Hombres gang colours…

My goal is 3 Cumberland trips this summer and if the winter weather cooperates we’ll squeeze in a winter trip as well!

A break form the endless climbing...

A break form the endless climbing…

The River Rats...

The River Rats…

Back at camp...

Back at camp…

Turk...

Turk…

S'moores!

S’moores!

Start 'em young!

Start ’em young!

Love a good campfire...

Love a good campfire…

Aviva...

Aviva…

Joanne...

Joanne…

Rain protection...

Rain protection…

Swim anyone?

Swim anyone?

This Solo took a beating and kept rolling...

This Solo took a beating and kept rolling…

Birth Control

Eban and his Knolly...

Eban and his Knolly…

I’m at aΒ point with my local riding that stuff is starting to get boring. Part of that is my fault for not shaking things up more and part of it is the frequent necessity to lead a band of Dirt Hombres of mixed fitness and riding skill levels on group rides. Managing a group is much easier on trails you know well and they have seen before.

Click for larger map and GPS track...

Click for larger map and GPS track…

Recently I had a group ride that nobody showed up for. Riding solo I took every turn off my familiar trails riding where I had never explored before. It was super fun and got my juices flowing again.

Graham and another Knolly...

Graham and another Knolly…

So when the Wednesday group ride ended up small and made up of experienced riders it seemed like a good time to try some more exploring, but with company this time. Birth Control is a double black diamond trail that I pass often, but had never been down before. So it was time to check it out.

I heard blue was more Enduro so...

I heard blue was more Enduro so…

We started riding up it which ran the risk of many steep unrideable section heading in the wrong direction, but as it turned out it was still pretty fun going uphill. As a bonus it gave us a chance to scope out the tech section from the bottom so next time when we ride it the “normal” way we’ll have a good feel for the best way down.

Mike getting his Bronson on...

Mike getting his Bronson on…

Although we got a little lost [I had an outdated version of the trail map in my pack] we eventually were spit out into familiar territory.

Heckler Mike finding his groove...

Heckler Mike finding his groove…

One of the trails I explored on my solo ride was Organ Donor which at triple black diamond is the hardest trail I’ve been on. It only has one crux move that really gave me an OMG moment, but it’s do-able with some scouting and some finesse.

Always seems steeper in person...

Always seems steeper in person…

I’ve already got in mind a nice double loop that incorporates Birth Control and Organ Donor in a tough, but spicy mix of techy good times.

Wrong way...

Wrong way…

I’m happy to report that after plateauing for a while my riding is cranking up a notch or two. The more tech I can ride the more lines open up and things can stay fresh even in areas I’ve ridden a ton like Hartland.

See what I mean?

See what I mean?

Having a new mountain bike helps. Not only because it rides great, but also because it makes old trails feel new and encourages me to push my boundaries. A lot of the trail riding game is about breaking through mental barriers that limit our potential.

Miska says "That's crazy!"...

Miska says “That’s crazy!”…

Having friends who want to get out and shred is the other key ingredient in smiling lots on my bike. Getting to see the lines other people take and being able to share the ups/downs is great.

Eban agrees...

Eban agrees…

I’ve been playing around with a new prime lens [Canon EF28mm f/1.8USM]. It’s so much faster than the old kit lens I was using that it allows for shots that just weren’t possible in the past.

So many rocks to ride so little time...

So many rocks to ride so little time…

Not having a zoom requires more planning and getting fewer shots per setup, but it’s worth it.

It's one drop at a time...

It’s one drop at a time…

Not all rides allow for photos, but when they do I’ve got a good crew who doesn’t mind hitting features again and again in the name of mountain bike porn. πŸ˜‰

What's a Heckler to do?

What’s a Heckler to do?

The dogs don’t always understand why we stop and ride in circles, but they usually find something to chew on or to dig up while they wait.

Turk says "I can haz mor trailz?"

Turk says “I can haz mor trailz?”

Life is dirty! Life is good! πŸ™‚

I love enduroing!

I love enduroing!

It’s summer at the Zoo…

Some of the crew...

Some of the crew…

A bike industry professional in action...

A bike industry professional in action…

Dirty Hombre Girlz in da house...

Dirty Hombre Girlz in da house…

I got this!

I got this!

Chris...

Chris…

Look ma I'm in the air!

Look ma I’m in the air!

Worth trying again...

Worth trying again…

Time for some maintenance...

Time for some maintenance…

Nice view...

Nice view…

The UK connection...

The UK connection…

Joanne...

Joanne…

Mach Sixes...

Mach Sixes…

The spots are catching on...

The spots are catching on…

Hardtails can fly...

Hardtails can fly…

"Did you see that jump?"...

“Did you see that jump?”…

Helen hitting it...

Helen hitting it…

Chris airborne...

Chris airborne…

Sharon in the air...

Sharon in the air…

Joanne gets her Bronson on...

Joanne gets her Bronson on…

Lazy scouting the jump...

Lazy scouting the jump…

Conor making it happen...

Conor making it happen…

The Heat is On…

It's summer time...

It’s summer time…

Our Wed Dirt Hombres club ride was met with the season’s first nice hot dry day. Trails were bone dry on the verge of getting all dusty. I love our 365 day/yr riding season here on Vancouver Island, but I do like being warm and dry the most bestest! πŸ˜‰

Click for larger map and GPS track...

Click for larger map and GPS track…

With only advanced and intermediate riders out we kept the pace up and had some fun challenging ourselves.

Nic is smiling because it's so nice out...

Nic is smiling because it’s so nice out…

Being able to ride up roots without planning for a slip and a slide is very relaxing. Plus the low traction skills we developed all winter make us feel like super heroes when climbing up the hardest tech sections.

Aaron thanking the Bike Gods he is not in Edmonton...

Aaron thanking the Bike Gods he is not in Edmonton…

One of the best things about the dry season is you can ride your bike all month with next to no maintenance. That means more time for hanging out with your friends and drinking beer! πŸ˜‰

Telling lies at the rest break...

Telling lies at the rest break…

Trying something new…

Faster lens...

Faster lens…

I like to take photos while out mountain biking. Trouble is our trails are 95% inside the dark forest. Add in the element of speed and this makes for some challenging photography. My point and shoot camera is only good for still photos and even then it’s not awesome. I carry around a Canon DSLR sometimes, but have been using the mediocre 18-55mm kit lens which at least gets me a photo, but leaves a lot to be desired due to the high ISO settings and slower shutter speeds I have to use.

Crappy kit lens...

Crappy kit lens…

If you click on the two images above you can see them in larger sizes and compare them fairly well.

Fun roll down...

Fun roll down…

I’ve been debating what to do about my camera gear going forward. One thought is to stick with the DSLR because it works really well, lots of accessories are available for it and they are priced pretty well. The other is to switch over to one of the smaller interchangeable lens cameras that are giving the DSLRs a run for their money. They are smaller and perform nearly as well as a DSLR. The main downsides are they are pricey and I am not certain of their low light performance relative to my DSLR. Although I hear good things and I think they’d be worth a try.

Hanging out...

Hanging out…

Having bought a new mountain bike this year I decided not to splash out for a new camera system. My Canon DSLR is still rocking and rolling nicely despite being banged around in my pack on many rides. It’s paid for and takes great photos. At least great enough that the camera is not holding me back. Except for the kit lens. To be fair the kit lens meets my needs when outside in some decent sunlight, but it struggles in the forest trying to capture riding action.

Trees, rocks and lots of green...

Trees, rocks and lots of green…

So I decided to try out a faster lens. I settled on the Canon 28mm f/1.8 USM prime lens. Since it does not zoom I have to zoom by walking forwards and back to compose the shot. It also doesn’t have image stabilization. But, I had to stick to a reasonable budget so I couldn’t have everything. Canon does offer a professional series of lens that are reputed to blow your mind in performance and in cost. I just couldn’t bring myself to spend that sort of money on a lens that’s going to get bashed around the forest.

Le moto!

Le moto!

All the photos in this post are from the new lens except the 2nd from the top. So far I am pretty pleased. The field of view is decent [45mm full frame equivalent] given our tight and twisty trails. I miss the zoom, but that’s an acceptable price to pay for better quality photos. I am able to reduce the ISO and increase the speed on my photos significantly compared to the kit lens.

Sharon on the move...

Sharon on the move…

The new lens is fairly small and not super heavy. My Canon DSLR is mostly plastic so it’s not awful to carry around. Together they weigh 875g with a filter and lens cap. I’ve started leaving my camera bag at home and just throwing the DSLR into my hydration pack. This reduces the bulk considerably and does drop some weight since I am not carrying a spare battery or any extra accessories. The trade off is less protection, but like my mountain bike this camera was bought to be used not to be kept perfect forever.

A Dirty Girl...

A Dirty Girl…

I’m still interested in a smaller mirrorless camera, but I’ll just keep researching them and push that purchase to 2015. They’ll only get better and to be honest I haven’t figured out which one is the best choice for me yet. I’m not an expert photographer so a lot of the techy info flies over my head and I have to really work to get it all straight. Luckily I know a few great photogs that I can learn from by seeing what they decide to use!

Rivers on his Prime...

Rivers on his Prime…

One other low light avenue I am going to explore is using remote triggers on external flashes to add light to my shots. I’m not sure how I will like that, but it seems worth the effort to try a few times and see. Particularly in the winter when the forest is uber dark and natural light is very hard to come by.

Sharon at Mach 6...

Sharon at Mach 6…

I think that will be the extent of my investment in my DSLR. It’s solid and it works for me. I’ll just use it until I find something that promises to perform as well in a smaller/lighter package or the DSLR is killed in action.

Joann rocking the Sombrio apparel...

Joanne rocking her Sombrio apparel…

21 Strong!

View from the top...

View from the top…

Our Dirt Hombres club ride today had 21 riders come out with a number of regulars missing the ride. Wow! Nice turn out. πŸ™‚

Dirt Hombre Ladies...

Dirt Hombre Ladies…

Getting that many riders around a challenging loop wasn’t easy, but everyone did their part and lots of fun was had.

Muddy bikes...

Muddy bikes…

Recent rains meant soupy slippery trails.

Sean and Deanna...

Sean and Deanna…

It was good to see some new Hombres out for their first ride and some old skool Hombres back out after some time off the bike. πŸ™‚

Crooked Goose!

Crooked Goose!

After some great riding we hit up the Crooked Goose where the Dirt Hombres are regulars!