The anticipation to ride bikes after winter grows stronger and stronger throughout the off season. Most people in BC spend the winter chasing deep and dry powder, which I have also rediscovered a love for in recent years. While snowboarding through steep tree runs or big wide open alpine features you have the freedom to go where you want and ride the terrain how you see it. My favourite part of mountain biking has always been big mountain riding and free riding in general.This more than likely comes from growing up on a board where snow eliminates the need for a trail.
In Nelson, we get snow right down into town during the winter which puts a hiatus on mountain bike riding for a couple of months. As winter slowly comes to an end, different biking spots around town start to melt out and open up. It’s an exciting time to get after it because no different than chasing perfect snow conditions there are perfect dirt conditions. When the snow first melts off a trail, the dirt conditions are great for riding due to all of the moisture in the ground. As one spot drys out from continued warm spring weather, the next spot to melt out is ready to be ridden.
The first spot around our area to ride is a south facing, low elevation, grassy slope with nicely spaced trees called Rialto. While the upper trails are still covered in a meter of snow the lower section is snow free. The lower trail might only be 2 minutes long from top to bottom, but after a long winter it is enough to wet the whistle and get back on the bike. A few years ago we discovered that instead of riding the short trail Dirty Dreams the whole way down you can branch off in just about any spot you feel and freeride to the bottom within a minute! The discovery of this zone excited me since I have only ever ridden one other zone where the forest floor was clear enough to ride wherever you dare.
The weather was warming up down low and I knew that Dirty Dreams must be getting close to ride. The trail was mostly free of snow and after clearing the freeride lines of larger rocks and broken branches it was ready to be hit. There was a thick layer of pine needles on top the the ground that made things a bit slippery but underneath was perfect moist tacky dirt, fluffed up after the winter.
Normally I would ride my downhill bike in this zone however, I had just built up my Polygon Siskiu N for a biking trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. The trails in Oaxaca offered up a little bit of everything from smooth flow to fast chunky steep loose lines. The Siskiu, although being a trail bike, was capable of handling the variety of terrain and I had so much riding it I figured I would give it a try back home on some freeride lines.
There is something to learn every time you step out into the forest or back country. Tree riding the Siskiu through the woods, picking lines as nimbly as though on my snowboard, was an amazing experience. I continue to seek opportunities to ride new terrain, grow my skills in the back country and expand the knowledge of what this Earth has to offer.