The North Shore is world-famous for its mountain biking, but how do you hit the trails safely if you’ve never left the pavement?
Venturing out onto the North Shore’s tricky mountain bike trails can be daunting for anyone who has never tried it before. Aside from the obvious fact that mountain biking can be a dangerous pursuit, particularly if you don’t know what you are doing, there are practical concerns about getting to the trails and sharing the space with other users.
What are the best North Shore trails for beginners? How do you get there? What equipment do you need? What are the etiquette rules on the trails? There are a lot of questions.
That’s why we hit up the North Shore Mountain Bike Association (NSMBA) for answers to common questions about starting up in the sport. Here’s what NSMBA executive director Deanne Cote had to say about getting into the sport safely.
What equipment is needed for mountain biking?
You'll definitely need a bike in good working order. Make sure it gets a proper tune-up at a local bike shop before heading out on the trails. You don't want to find out the hard way that your brakes don't work as well as they should when you are on the trails.
Helmets are mandatory! And I always recommend some type of bike glove. If you do wipe out, the first thing that goes out is a hand, and I've suffered enough scraped palms to now always ride with gloves.
Check the weather before riding so you dress appropriately. Fancy bike shorts and jerseys aren't mandatory, but they definitely make you more comfortable when riding. You should always bring water/food and any spare clothes you may need because of the weather.
Most riders carry some basic tools and supplies in their packs like Allen keys, a spare tube, pump and tire levers and zip ties/zap straps! The longer and farther you are riding, the more supplies you need to bring with you like first aid kit, additional tools and parts.
As for optional equipment, lots of riders wear protective body armour on their elbows and knees/shins.
What North Shore mountain biking trails are good for beginners?
Pump tracks (Inter River Bike Skills Park and Moodyville Park) are great places to get comfortable on the bike, practice pumping and manoeuvering in a really safe environment. Kids love it too!
If you’ve got a feel for the pump tracks and want to get out on the trails, here are a few places to try first.
Mount Fromme: Try out Roadside Attraction – it's a green trail that parallels the gravel road. After that, ride King of the Shore and Upper and Lower Griffens. They are all near the parking lot on Fromme, and are suited for new riders and have lots of places to stop and session skills. If you like speed, climb up to Bobsled which is a bit steeper, but is a flow trail with minimal wooden features.
Mount Seymour: The High School League trail is an intermediate level trail but a great accessible spot to practice your skills.
Check out the Trailforks app to find out the difficulty level of trails in your area and plan your ride.
How do you get to the North Shore trails?
It's easiest to drive, and most folks park near the trailheads. Fromme has a parking lot at the end of Mountain Highway, and Seymour has street parking (be sure to respect local parking regulations!) and some parking at the Old Buck Trailhead. There are transit routes that bring you close to the trailheads, but you'll need to ride the rest of the way.
Basic safety rules and trail etiquette mountain bikers need to know
Adventure Smart has great info on how to best prepare for mountain biking. Trail etiquette is quite simple: we share the trail with lots of other users, so be kind and courteous, ride within your ability, stick to the trail, ride don't slide, and if it's exceptionally wet, stay off the trails.
What do you do if you want to learn how to mountain bike or improve?
And you can join a club. Muddbunnies and NS Ride are local riding clubs that offer group rides for beginners to advanced riders. It's a great way to meet other like-minded folks and ride in the safety of a welcoming group.
Love the trails you ride? The NSMBA puts in thousands of hours of trail maintenance each year on Fromme, Seymour and now Cypress, so mountain bikers have the best experience possible. Come join a public trail maintenance day and give back to the community.