Mountain biking on Vedder Mountain is as good as it gets.
The trails on the mountain near Cultus Lake are an undiscovered treasure for mountain bike riders of any skill, says racing champion and bike guide Ricky Federau.
Stunning views, phenomenal dirt, and the sheer elevation of the mountain make it a spectacular experience for those seeking a few thrills from the vantage point of a bike.
Federau was thrilled to host members of the provincial racing team recently.
He tells the Progress what it was like to take eight riders up the mountain to showcase all that Vedder has to offer, as only someone who’s been riding for 20 years can.
As owner and lead guide of Valley Bikes Guide, Federau has been actively exploring the trails on Vedder since he was just a kid.
“Vedder is a big mountain and there’s lots of terrain. It has a huge elevation gain of 800 metres. You can climb forever and descend forever.
“You can go out for a ride and go full throttle for half hour.”
During his 20 years on riding locally, he raced professionally for 10 of them on the national MTB team.
So Vedder Mountain holds a tremendous place in his heart.
“I learned how to ride on these trails,” he explains.
It was his buddy Harv Fergen, owner of Life Cycles Bike Shop in Abbotsford who first showed him the terrific trails on Vedder so many years ago.
“Harv took us under his wing, and showed us these trails. And I’ve been coming back ever since.”
They are better than average. He’d like to see more MTB riders make the trek out from Vancouver to see for themselves.
Of course there are other mountain bike trails in the Chilliwack area, like the one on the way to Yarrow or in the Chilliwack River Valley at Tamihi, but there is something unique about the conditions on Vedder Mountain, he says.
“The dirt is phenomenal,” he gushes. “It’s a great natural resource.”
There’s an almost constant supply of good, loamy soil covering the network of trails.
“The mountain is one big, massive pile of dirt,” he explains. “Other areas have more rocky terrain. We have very good dirt.
“It sounds lame to say, but it’s true. With so many deciduous trees the trails get more foliage, which turns into compost, and makes good dirt.”
It’s the wonderful loamy texture that sets it apart.
“It is also more clay based and that also means good dirt. It’s often referred to as ‘hero dirt’ or ‘velcro’ since your bike tires stick to it like velcro.”
That stickiness translates into traction as tire treads dig in.
“That means you can corner hard and really send it when you’re sitting at the top, ready to hit the jumps.”
Federau, who lives in Chilliwack, raced full time on the national team from 1998 to 2008.
The trails have really progressed over the years, and he credits the work of volunteers with the Vedder Mountain Trails Association, including Steven Uruski and Kerry Bain.
The biking trails have gone from one long trail up and one steep gravel path down, to a vast array of sloping, single-track trails. The trails are rated from green, to blue, to black in terms of difficulty.
The bike technology these days has come a long way and makes it easier than ever to manoeuvre on the terrain. The technology of how bikes are built has progressed in tandem with trail design.
“Today we have really good brakes, tires and suspension. The bikes are super light and easy to ride.”
How about jumps on Vedder. Are there good jumps?
“A whole whack of them,” he replied. “The cool part is that there is a lot of big jumps, but every one has a beautiful transition.
It’s also designed to be very user friendly and if someone is a beginner, there’s a ride around option for every jump.
“So you can build your skills as you go. It caters to every level and everyone will have fun.”
The feedback he got about Vedder Mountain trails from the BC MTB Team was revealing and very positive.
“They talked about the ‘freshness’ of it and how new it seemed. We had just finished one of the long descents.”
One of the professional riders remarked the trail was “so good and so fresh,” it must hardly ever get ridden.
Federau thought that was funny because the opposite was true. It’s a very busy, established trail that had been well-used for years.
“It was the one that is ridden the most. So that’s a testament to how good the trail builders are and how good the dirt is.”
Well worn tracks get a little beaten down.
“But we don’t have those breaking bumps like some trails get, and we don’t have the sheer volume of riders.
“It’s pretty undiscovered here.”