So think back, way back to before the global pandemic. It didn’t start out as some crazy quest or hardcore challenge. It just started on a solo ride one day with the thought, wouldn’t it be great to really explore the trail network this year.
A couple of years ago I moved from North Van to the Comox Valley - two pretty amazing riding areas from a mountain biking perspective. While the North Shore is very well known, Cumberland is developing a reputation for being a mountain biking hotspot, and with good reason. Cumberland has a large and growing trail network, a very active mountain bike association (UROC) and a strong community of riders including lots of women and little rippers.
So I’ve had the pleasure of getting to explore the Cumberland trail network since moving there. Add in the spirit of exploration and adventure that originally got me into mountain biking as a teenager and my personal Cumbyquest was born. Not to be hardcore, not even to challenge myself physically. Just to push myself to explore, see some new things and ride some trails and see some places that I might not otherwise.
After downloading all the listed trails for the area on Trailforks, I started out on January 5th with a short solo ride. My target was 131 trails to cover in 2020. This gave me lots of time to come up with some rules to give my challenge structure. Not to get too dogmatic but I figured I had to ride entire trails during a single ride in order for them to count. This is actually a bit of an issue in Cumberland as there are lots of shorter trails and you often stitch pieces of them together to form a loop. Again this pushed me to ride sections of trails that don’t see a lot of traffic and end up in new places I’d never seen. I also decided that any unofficial trails or new trails that got opened throughout the year wouldn’t get added to my list. I had to draw the line somewhere… In a testament to the hard work of the local trail builders I’d say there were about 10 new trails opened up while I was doing my quest. Pretty amazing.
Some rides I did just with me and the hound, some with me and the boy and some with friends and riding buddies who were willing to humour me in my weird route selections. After a pause on riding in the network during the start of the pandemic I continued picking away at my list through the summer. By the end of August I was down to less than 10 trails to go. Two really weird rides in September and just like that I was done. The final stats for the rides I did to check off all of the trails on the list were: 35 rides 58 hours of ride time 573 km ridden 14,300 m of climbing
It could have been done much more quickly and efficiently. But that was never the point. The point was to get out there, have a look around and enjoy everything my local network had to offer. Amazing trails, terrible trails, wet riding, hot riding, places I’d never seen and more than few surprises along the way. Overall, I had a great time and I’d highly recommend doing something similar in your area. Get out and explore. I’m just not sure what I’m going to do next year.
Written by Scott McGregor, Oct 2020. Scott is a long time friend of the shop and experienced rider. Though he now lives on Vancouver Island, he still is an active part of the Steed community, and we're stoked about that! If you're a part of the Steed local community or from further afield and want to share your story with us, don't hesitate to reach out!