Flow: The Progression Of Freeride Mountain Biking In North Vancouver

Curated by: Ian Verchere

Amid the second-growth rainforest bounding the North Shore of Vancouver, out of sight to most Vancouverites, an isolated terrain has provided for an explosive evolution in sport: mountain biking has progressed farther and faster here than anywhere else in the world.

In the 1980s and early 90s, bikers began to traverse Vancouver’s mountain slopes over a network of fallow trails and logging roads buried under second-growth forest. Obstructed and slowed by felled trees, blackberry bushes, rocks, and washouts, these bikers initially overcame obstacles with simple, jerry-rigged ramps and bridges, opening old trails in ways impossible before. As skill levels increased, trail building became more innovative, and teeter-totters, drops, banked walls and elevated boardwalks were introduced. In a few years, simple A-frame structures that helped riders up and over fallen logs progressed to sophisticated constructions integrating natural elements.

Bikes were modified and adapted to local conditions: terrain and skills pushed equipment development, and better equipment and bolder terrain contributed to increasingly complex skills. Very quickly, local bike and accessory manufacturers became world-renowned, while manufacturers in other parts of the world branded their bikes as “Shore-tested” or “Built for the Shore.”

Flow: The Progression of mountain biking on Vancouver’s North Shore traces the local evolution of this internationally growing sport, exploring one of North Vancouver’s most famous exports. The exhibition incorporates a built, rideable environment in the gallery as well as photographs by Sterling Lorence, the sport’s preeminent documentary photographer.

Flow is organized by Ian Verchere, a Vancouver-based producer and writer. Verchere’s first book V0N 1BO, a collection of essays on life at Whistler, was published by Douglas and McIntyre in 2006.

Gallery Press Release

Mountain bike performance during the Flow exhibition.
Mountain bike performance during the Flow exhibition.
Sterling Lorence 2
Sterling Lorence
Sterling Lorence 4
Sterling Lorence