Monday, October 1, 2012

Williams Lake

This weekend my brother and I had the opportunity to check out the riding scene in Williams Lake. This is a trip that I had been meaning to do for a long time but had always been put off by the "long" drive. Like most things, the idea of the drive was a lot worse than the reality of it, beautiful scenery all the way up the Fraser Canyon and next to no traffic made it quite a pleasant journey.

We set out from Surrey at 11am stopped for lunch at the Hope River RV Park, which doesn't sound like the most appealing experience but the sandwiches here are absolutely amazing.

Best damn sandwiches ever!
Stunning views up the fraser canyon
From there we carried on straight through to William's Lake, which only took another 3 hours or so, and we arrived at 4:30pm. When we got into town we headed straight to Red Shred's Bike and Board Shed. The guys at the shop were super helpful in directing us to the trails that we would want to ride, because to just look at the trail map the number of trails is quite overwhelming. The best part is we found out that Fox Mountain's DH trails ended right behind our hotel. 

For our first ride of the weekend we decided to push out a little further to Desous Mountain. This trail network was a little tricky to find and we were thankful for the maps we picked up at the bike shop or else we would have never found it.

We only had the one vehicle so we had to hike up the hill, which given how slack the road was, this wasn't too much of a hardship. The big drawback was Desous has a front side and a back side, with the more epic trails being on the back side, but this involves nearly an hour long shuttle to return to the vehicles. This meant we could only do the Desous DH trail on the front side, which we found to be a bit of a misnomer. The first half of this trail was absolutely amazing with beautiful open forests, steep chutes and cool booters all over the place. This sadly tapers off into more of an xc all mountain experience, this isn't the worst thing in the world but when you are riding a Demo 8, it's a bit of a pain.

Later on in the weekend we talked to some people about Desous and it turns out it's the trail network that has been forgotten over the past couple years, because the other trails are much closer to town and easier to access. I was also informed that of the 3 trails down the back side "Sooo Long" was the only one in reasonable shape anymore. 

View from the top of Desous

Sweet single track on Desous

The first half of the trail had tons of cool booters
 That evening we decided to check out Fox Mountain, which is right in town, super easy to access and really well marked. The bulk of this trail network is XC/AM, but there are two great DH/Free ride trails, Mitches Brew DH, and A-flo. A-Flo is the favorite of the locals, featuring endless swooping turns through gulley's, high speed single track, some cool little jumps and a couple road gap style features that aren't for the faint of heart. I personally preferred Mitches Brew, which had 3 nice table tops jumps at the start leading into some awesome single track with wicked off camber drifty corners as well as  high speed berms. While we were at Fox we ran into Tim a local rider, ripping the trails up with his son Mason, they were so kind as to let us tag along for a few shuttles which gave us a great opportunity to see more of Fox Mountain. Tim was also cool enough to offer us a shuttle up the Westsyde trail network to show us the new construction on Snakes and Ladders.

Snakes and Ladders is really flat for the first half but, it is in a beautiful wide open forest with a ton of incredibly well built, and interesting elevated wood structures. There is also a suspension bridge, 2 massive wall rides, a hand full of whistler style wooden drops with ladder case pads. After all this the trail starts descending in a big way, with cool hips into corners, little step down doubles, a massive triple and tons of wicked berms.
Super high quality wooden structures on snakes

Into the great wide open

Suspension bridge on Snakes

Massive wall rides
This wrapped up our riding for the weekend, and I have to say for such a small community to see such a strong riding scene was a real inspiration. It is also pleasing to see the amount of time and money BC Parks has invested into mountain biking in the interior.

As for the riding, I did really enjoy all of the trails I rode but I feel a lot of the documentation kind of misrepresents the type of riding going on in the area. I would have been much better served with a 6" travel all mountain bike, than my Demo 8, as the hills are really slack and almost every trail has a fairly significant pedaling component.

If you are interested check out, the scenery and quality of trails here is second to none. Making this a worthwhile trip for mountain bikers of any discipline and skill level.

Huge thanks to Tim and his son Mason, for showing us around!!