Friday, August 15, 2014

Trails. Bike. Cumberland, BC . A KEEN Adventure.

I am proud and honored to become the newest KEEN Canada Ambassador and wanted to celebrate in a special way.  It had to include Vancouver Island’s stunning outdoor landscapes.  It had to involve exploring somewhere new and get a feel for the area.  Of course it had to incorporate an adventurous outdoor activity.  And last, but not least, it had to include the whole OTBP crew because, even though I bear the KEEN Ambassador hat, I am only a quarter of the pie.  It takes all four of us to create inspiring adventures and do what we do.  We are a KEEN Canada family.

Someone must have known we were coming.  Driftwood KEEN graffiti on beach.

If I had to describe Cumberland, BC to you in three words it would be: Mountain. Bike. Trails.  Don’t get me wrong, there is more to Cumberland than just mountain biking.  Cumberland is chalked full of coal mining history, dating back to 1888 that included workers from Europe, Japan, and China, it is tucked away and nestled in the foothills of the Beaufort Range which means plenty of hiking and trail running.  It is close proximity to Mt Washington and other snow-capped mountains making access to all your winter activities easy, and has a community of like-minded people who are passionate about outdoor recreation, preservation, and creating a vibrant community.  Still, mountain biking and the trails in Cumberland really make it a special and unique place to adventure and explore thanks in great part to the Cumberland Community Forest Society. Time for the OTBP crew to finally ride the trails together and celebrate the adventures we are so fortunate to have.  (Joel and I have had the pleasure (?) of riding select Cumberland trails while competing in the best adventure race out there, MOMAR.  Finally, I get to enjoy it!)

Before I get into telling about our story, you must read about the story of the fabulous trail builders that make Cumberland what it is.  Trail Blazers - River Rats  Pretty cool story and I had the pleasure of meeting Terry (a River Rat) a few months back at a Vancouver Island Trails Conference.  This guy loves what he does!

Our Cumberland mountain bike adventure began on a Monday morning which was perfect for us.  We enjoyed a leisurely morning breakfast, finished loading up the gear and bikes, then began the hour or so drive to Cumberland, BC, in the beautiful Comox Valley.   It was looking to be another hot and sunny day and chances are the trails would be less busy than the weekend.  Ride on!

First stop in Cumberland was Dodge City Cycles to pick up a map of the trails that the Comox Valley Mt. Bike club produces.  Of course, this quick stop lead to browsing the show floor and picking up a few last minute items.  Shopping locally and supporting the businesses in the area we adventure in has always been a priority for us.  With this in mind, I quickly ran across the street and checked out The Big Patch Store, a unique, vintage and retro clothing store.  Must go back!

You know this is a biking town when the village’s recreation centre parking lot is full of vehicles with empty bike racks.  We happily added our vehicle to the lot and headed up the main logging road past the community forest enroute to our trails of choice.  The trails we were riding were all intermediate trails, perfect for our group but for one member of the OTBP crew, this was monumental.  Riding on her new 24 inch wheels, Liv can finally pedal up the hills and navigate the downhill single track like a pro.  She loves the trigger shift.  Proof that mountain biking can be a family activity and I have no doubt there are families in Cumberland who do the same.

Liv riding on Missing Link

Cumberland trails treated us well this day.  Ben challenged some lengthy boardwalk structures beautifully.  Joel and Ben got to ride with some speed together, which was pretty special.  Liv, even in the extreme heat, kept going and rode more trail than expected, thanks to her new bike and even I went over some rocks that normally would have had me jump off and drag the bike over.  Our trails of choice were EnTrails, Shaker, Missing Link and Mama Bear. It was the perfect mix of trails for us.

Ben rode the entire log bridge like a pro

Time for some lunch! Normally, I would have a lunch and plenty of snack packed for a day of adventure but today we opted to experience Cumberland’s local food establishments and try one out.  Support local business. No lacking in choice of local eateries, I counted about 10 different places.  In past adventures, we have enjoyed yummy food from Tarbell’s Deli and Cumberland Village Bakery and this time we gave the Wandering Moose Café a try.  It did not disappoint.  Great service, beautiful historic building (1907 Post Office) and fresh homemade soups, salads and sandwiches.  It was the perfect place to cool off, fuel our bodies, and reminisce about the day’s ride.  Ben used the word “epic” quite a bit. 

Cheers! To an epic day of riding.
I knew that this day was gonna be a hot one.  For weeks Vancouver Island has been stuck at around the +27C mark.  No way were we going to ride all day and suffer without jumping into some body of water.  So I planned for just that.  After lunch, we did a quick gear swap at the vehicle.  Exchanged riding shoes for sandals, camel-back for day-packs, and shorts for swim suits. Comox Lake is a stone throws away from Cumberland, by road or trail, this is biking country after all.  Via Mama Bear and then the Collier Line (a possible route for the Spine Trail), we rode on trails to a semi quiet lake access spot and enjoyed the fruits of our labour with a cool and refreshing swim. Perfect end to a prefect KEEN family adventure.

Check out more photos on our flickr album - Trails. Bike. Cumberland, BC.

KEEN gear used:
Joel and I opted to swap footwear prior to riding to the lake.  Venice H2 & Clearwater CNX
Ben and Liv grabbed the KEEN Frisbee

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