In this interview, I found out about Chris Allen, who is the owner of North Shore Billet and a resident of Pemberton, BC. Find out below about his mountain biking roots, the PVTA, and some fun loops in the area.
Sarah (SD): Thanks for chatting with me, Chris! Let’s start with how you got into mountain biking?
Chris (CA): I guess I started ‘mountain biking’ when I was about 12. For my birthday that year I got a Miele mountain bike and used to ride around the trails in a conservation area that was across the road from me. My favorite was riding in the pouring rain and mud! Haha! I stopped riding bikes for a few years during high school and got back into riding in university. Well, sort of. I actually dropped out after 2nd year so I could buy a sweet steel Marin Team with full XTR. I remember thinking: “It’s either tuition for next year or this bike…. Man, I wanna ride that bike!” I bought the bike and haven’t stopped riding since.
SD: And you also like to ride a hardtail? What do you like about it?
CA: Hard tails are the best. I’ve always ridden them because at first it was pretty much the only thing to ride and now I ride them because it’s the most versatile mountain machine. You can ride any trail on a hard tail (other than full blown DH runs) and the maintenance is significantly less than with a full suspension…. I really don’t like working on my bikes!
SD: I wanted to get some information about PVTA. What does PVTA stand for and what is it about?
CA: The PVTA is the Pemberton Valley Trail Association. It’s a multi use trail advocacy group that in recent years has been heavily involved in maintaining and building Pemberton’s trail network. While the majority of our membership comprises of mountain bikers, the PVTA directors include all user groups such as runners, hikers, and horseback riders.
SD: How are you involved with PVTA?
CA: I’ve been on the PVTA Board of Directors since 2008. I started as the Secretary and became the Chairman; now I’m a just a Director on the board.
SD: You also build trails… What have you worked on in the Pemberton area and what’s coming in the future?
CA: Well, I wouldn’t call myself a trail builder per se. While I built Cross Town Traffic behind my house with my neighbours, most of my time spent on trails is maintaining them, advocating for them, or raising money to build them. I think it’s easy to motivate people to build something new, but it’s not as exciting to work on something that might not even get noticed and even harder to get people excited about writing grant applications!
Since 2009, the PVTA has built over 40km of new singletrack trails, with a new blue descent called Rudy’s trail above Overnight Sensation set to be finished in April. Moving forward for the next few years we are going to be pulling back from new builds focusing more on maintenance and rehabilitating older less used trails. There are so many trails out there that with our limited budget it’s hard to keep all the trails open and accessible.
SD: How can people get involved or help with PVTA? Do you have traildays where people can come out and help?
CA: I think the best thing that people can do is come out to monthly meetings and trail days. Make your voice heard and don’t be afraid to help no matter how small the contribution may seem. Whether it’s fixing a smashed out berm or collecting raffle prizes for the annual fundraiser, trail organisations are just volunteers working together to create a trail networks for everyone to use. At the end of the day we get out of the trails what we put in.
SD: What’s a great loop for someone who is going to ride Pemberton for the first time?
CA: For a first timer in Pemberton, I would suggest climbing up Happy Trail and descending down Radio Tower / Cross Town Traffic / Mission Impossible 3. It’s a short 1 hour loop that rolls fast and has a bit of steeps to it. It’s a good sample of what Pemberton has to offer and can be used as a gauge for your fitness and skill level.
SD: And what’s an absolute must-do? (Maybe after being familiar with the region for a bit or getting the necessary skills)
CA: Everybody has a favorite trail, but I would say that a must do is climbing NIMBY and descending Overnight Sensation. It’s a great mid mountain loop that will leave everyone satisfied at the end.
SD: Final question… What was your most memorable ride?
CA: So many rides, so many memories, and they all kind of blur into one long continuous journey….. but one that always stands out was my first ride down Boogie Man on the North Shore. Picture it: 2001, full XC hardtail, clipless pedals, V brakes, 2.1” tires, and a seat that didn’t go down any lower than really high. I had no idea what I was getting into, and everyone who I was riding with didn’t say anything to warn me. They we’re just like ‘Giddy Up!’ Whoa, I survived alright, and the next week I bought a Norco VPS to try it all again.
Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions, Chris!
For everything about mountain biking in Pemberton, check out the PVTA's website and Facebook page.
My name is Jaclyn Delacroix, I live work and play on Vancouver's North Shore, this is my story.