When it comes to travelling, following your curiosity will almost always take you to places (or experiences) you won’t find on a map.
That holds especially true for mountain biking on the Sunshine Coast, where its 385 kilometres of singletrack are merely a placeholder for the real adventures that happen in between the twists and turns of every trail. But knowing where to go isn’t nearly as important as knowing how to go. If you’re planning a mountain bike trip to the Sunshine Coast, consider packing these real-life tips before you depart.
1. Come with a sense of adventure
The moment you take off for a Sunshine Coast bike trip, you’ve said yes to adventure.
A 50-minute ferry from Horseshoe Bay to Langdale will have you floating across the Salish Sea in the rugged shadows of the Coast Mountains and landing among the shores of anticipation. While you don’t have to go far to get off the beaten path, you first have to find the unbeaten path, and therein lies the biggest tip of all: the adventure is discovering the hidden secrets of Sunshine Coast for yourself.
2. It’s always time to bike
Because the Sunshine Coast trails are rideable year-round, there’s no reason to stash your bike in the off season.
Summer is the obvious choice for consistent riding weather, but spring and fall are marked by loamy trails and misty rainforests— the iconic signature of mountain biking in British Columbia. Even in the middle of a wet, Northwest winter, the area’s low-elevation trails are relatively free of snow and just squishy enough to make it fun.
3. Make friends with a local
Mountain biking brings strangers together, and the adage holds true here.
Get to chatting with a fellow trail rider and there’s a good chance they’ll point you in the direction of a stellar ride that’s not found on any map. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself suddenly re-routing a ride or taking a detour from your original plan.
4. Get a map
The Sunshine Coast harbours an extensive labyrinth of bike trails, unmarked intersections and rogue singletrack that will throw your navigation skills into question.
Many trails haven’t found their way onto Trailforks, but the local map is key for getting around. Do yourself a favour and invest in the $12.95 waterproof trail map of the area, available from any local bike shop or visitor centre, or download the $10 mobile app to your iPhone or Android (search for Trailmapps: Sunshine Coast).
5. Love the loam
“Loam” is a hard thing to define. Magical. Delicious. Confidence-inspiring.
These are just a few words local riders use to define the spongy, grippy soil that mountain bikers collectively lust after. It’s generally an “I’ll know it when I feel it” texture that has a slight give under your wheels: damp-but-not-saturated, crumbly-but-not-dry. It’s universally found on the Sunshine Coast, and it’ll change what you know about mountain biking.
6. Buckle up
Access to many of the trail networks, including the Coast Gravity Bike Park, requires a short drive up bumpy forest roads. Make sure your bikes are latched and tethered to your vehicle’s rack so they don’t take a ride without you on your bike trip.
7. Support the cause
The Sunshine Coast mountain bike community is fed by a grassroots love for the area, and building its legacy is an after-hours side project for many.
Its residents and businesses take it upon themselves to support bike-friendly events, ideas and initiatives, most of which are ran by donation. By kicking a few buck to the Sunshine Coast United Mountain Bikers (SCUMB) or the Powell River Cycling Association, you’re directly contributing to more cycling access and opportunities for your next visit.
8. Inspiration is just a berm away
Most of your riding will happen under the emerald-green canopy of the Sunshine Coast’s cedar and Douglas fir trees, but you’ll find the peninsula’s real gems laid out on the forest floor in front of you.
Rollercoaster rock rides, fuzzy blankets of moss, hand-built bridges and natural features of all sizes (most with ride-around options) are carved into the trails, giving you the option to push your limits or roll to your own content. It’s diverse, it’s inspiring and you’ll never want it to end.
9. Come back
When (and/or if) your bike trip does come to an end, there are 385 reasons to return: one for every unique kilometre of trail found on the Sunshine Coast. Because once you get a taste of the trails, the cravings only get stronger.
Have any tips of your own for a bike trip? Tag your Sunshine Coast bike discoveries on Instagram with #sunshinecoastbc and @sunshinecoastbc.