It was a long, dark, wet winter here in British Columbia and our time spent on bikes at the beginning of 2018 was few and far between. The low snowline, freezing temperatures, and a couple of large video productions have kept us off the saddle. So, when Trek asked us if we wanted to take their brand new bike, the 1120, and go for a bikepacking trip this spring we said “heck ya my dudes!” followed by “hold up, what’s bikepacking?"
The steeds all loaded up and weighing in at around the 60lbs mark.
“Bikepacking is a lot like backpacking, but with a bike…” said Mr. Trek as he tried to convince us that we wouldn’t be riding to our deaths. You carry everything you need for a multi-day camping trip on your bike and/or on your body. That includes tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, spare clothes, rope, tools, tubes, first aid kit, beer, GPS, matches, food, water, bear spray, stove, cooking utensils, and quite possibly the most important item, wet wipes. Oh... and if you want to film the whole trip to share with the world wide interwebz then you’re also going to need a camera, multiple lenses, tripod, batteries, drone, GoPros, gimbals, more batteries, memory cards, battery chargers, cords for the battery chargers and finally, more batteries. Clearly, planning what to bring and how to bring it turned into an adventure in itself.
All of our set ups looked something like this. Figuring out where to put everything was a huge process, but in the end it all came together.
It's the little things.
As hard as packing can be, choosing a route is almost equally as challenging. We wanted to ride as much dirt and as little road as possible. The 1120 may not have any suspension but it is still a mountain bike through and through with thoughtful touches like a dropper post, big rotors, and dirt hungry 29” x 3.0” tires. After looking online we came across a route that travelled up the lower Sunshine Coast. The distance seemed possible, it was almost all on trails or forest roads, and if things went wrong or we needed to make up time we were never far from the main highway. We ran the route by our expert bikepacking friends Found in the Mountains who helped us tweak things to ensure that we’d have enough time to ride, eat, film, and set up camp each night.
Langdale to Earls Cove. 95kms and over 100 trails. Details here.
Originally, Morgan and Stephanie from Found in the Mountains were going to accompany us on the journey but due to scheduling conflicts they weren’t able to make it. One week before our departure we invited our good buddy Andrew Santos a.k.a. Drone Daddy in their place. Andrew would be integral in capturing footage that we couldn’t alone and he was also another bike and body to help with our gear load. With everyone together we dubbed ourselves as the “Glamp Gang” which represented our commitment to high quality camping on bikes.
Coming to a campground near you.
Day 1 started at 6:00am as we headed for the Horseshoe Bay ferry terminal. Our goal for the day was a 40km ride that would lead us to Porpoise Bay, just outside of Sechelt. We knew the road would be long and tough but we pulled up our big boy pants over our chamois and soldiered on.
We caught the 7:30am ferry from Horseshoe Bay to give us as much sunlight as possible for the first day.
Drone Daddy doin' work.
Right out of the gate we learned that navigating wasn’t as easy as we thought. After a few wrong turns we eventually got our bearings in the spider web of trails on the Sunshine Coast. Our goal was to climb up to Mach Chicken, a trail that is famous for its smooth corners and jumps, however, Old Man Winter reared his ugly head and along the climb we found ourselves shin-deep in snow.
The snow hampered our progress but not our spirits.
The snow slowed us down but we were determined to shred some downhill so we made the call to go down the next trail we found. It’s amazing what a little downhill can do. Huffing and puffing quickly turned to hootin’ and hollerin’ as we made our way down the snow-covered trail. Snow soon turned to dirt and we rode all the way down to just outside of Roberts Creek and then followed the highway to our first campsite, Porpoise Bay.
No traction? No problem.
Matt sending it down one of the many wooden features on DNZ.
If you find yourself camping on the Sunshine Coast you should definitely check out Porpoise Bay. Not only is it incredibly scenic but there are also dedicated sites for cyclists and free showers. Day 1 was in the books and after an incredible dinner cooked up by Chef Matt we hit the hay to rest up for day 2.
Why did we bring LED lights? Because we're the Glamp Gang, dammit.
The next morning started off with a short pedal into the town of Sechelt to take care of a few things. Our batteries and our food supplies were running low and Andrew’s nether regions were causing him a whole lot of grief. That meant finding a coffee shop with electrical outlets and a visit to the local bike shop for a comfortable seat.
Good morning Porpoise Bay.
Pro tip: Shake out the tent occupied by three dirty mountain bikers for maximum freshness on the next night.
Raising electrical bills wherever we go. #GlampGang baby.
Once our batteries and bellies were full we left Sechelt and headed back into the mountains. We had a lofty goal of 35kms for the day but due to our late start we reassessed and chose a small lake about 20kms from Sechelt as the location for our second campsite. We were joined that night by a few other travellers from Vancouver who were doing something similar to us but on enduro motorcycles. We shared stories from our travels around the fire until it was time to rest up once again for day 3.
Left: Getting goofy with GoPros and Gimbals. Right: Big Tree certainly lived up to its name. Jason for scale.
We weren't the only ones who thought this would be an ideal spot to pitch a tent.
Not the worst view.
Same same, but different.
It’s lit! Matt ensured the team was well fed each night with healthy, delicious meals.
We were greeted by dark grey clouds on the third morning. We knew that there was rain in the forecast but Old Man Winter threw us another curve ball and shortly after getting out of the tent flurries began flying. We hurriedly packed up our gear and got a move on to keep warm and start making up ground.
Can't go around it, might as well go through it.
Left: Andrew was all smiles with his new seat. Right: Which one would you take?
Just a couple of Footy Phils stackin' clips.
After cruising up, down, and around a few kilometres of forest road we ended up at our next descent. A trail called Cabin Fever that offered up spectacular, flowy singletrack.
1500 metres of this? Yes please.
Once we made our way down Cabin Fever we traversed more fire road until we reached the highway just outside of Madeira Park. Our batteries and bellies were once again running on empty so we stopped at the first place we saw off the highway. A small restaurant by the name of Mad Park Bistro. Little did we know we were about to eat one of the best meals of our lives.
After sending our bodies into a food coma, the likes of which we had never experienced, we restocked our food supplies at the local grocery store and made our way to our final campsite.
Left: Chateau 69 would be our final campsite of the trip. Right: Keeping warm in the freezing temps on the last night.
In the morning we packed up our gear and heaved our sore bodies onto our bikes. To the relief of our legs we were only 15kms from Earls Cove. The end was in sight and it was a beautiful bluebird day.
Ruby Lake was a beautiful pitstop on the final morning.
It was almost surreal riding into Earls Cove. It felt like we had been on our bikes for weeks when it had only been three days since we were in Langdale. As we rolled down the last hill we let out shouts of joy because we had actually made it. One week ago this trip was just a line on a computer screen and now we had actually ridden it. To say we were stoked would be an understatement.
3.5 days, 110kms (thanks to some wrong turns), 100+ trails, 470GB of footage, and 1 blown taint.
We weren’t in any shape to ride back so we chartered a bus that would take us back to the ferry terminal. Fitting all of our bikes and gear into the back of the bus was our final challenge and once it was all in we made the 90 minute drive back down the coast.
Left: Other than a coating of dirt, the bikes were no worse for wear. Right: Tetris game strong.
On the ferry home we talked about how much of a success the trip was. None of us had ever been bikepacking before and except for a few wrong turns the trip went as smooth as could be. Could we have ridden more trails? Probably. But that just means there’s more to explore. If you haven’t tried bikepacking before, you’re missing out. It’s not only about the ride, it’s about the people you meet, the places you stay, and the things you see. You just don’t get that kind of experience looking out of a car window. This may have been our first trip but it certainly won’t be our last.
Would you try bike packing? Bike glamping? Wanna join our #glampgang? What type of trip has your bike taken you on?
- Matt and Jason