The Chain Gang of Powell River

Cor climbs Aloha Trail while nature just does its best in the background.
Cor climbs Aloha Trail while nature just does it’s best in the background.

Laughter fills the air while bursts of joy resonate throughout the room and I sit comfortably in silence next to my fiancé, grinning ear to ear. The room we’re in is filled with passionate mountain bikers and their better halves, almost all whom ride. Members of the Chain Gang, Ron, Wayne and Chris are here. These are the local guys involved with maintaining and building the vast network of mountain bike trails found in Powell River. The conversation revolves around mountain biking primarily, all while stories of what brought individuals to Powell River are recounted, including by our hosts Wayne and Georgie. Powell River is a place where the locals put in as much time digging as they do riding. Their passion for this is undeniable and very apparent once you’re out on the trails. As I sit here quietly I can’t help but think to myself that it is good to be back visiting this inspiring, passionate and dedicated community of riders. After all, what better way to end your day then by listening to my friend Chris, a retired Chief Petty Office 2nd Class who recently took up mountain biking, spin his tales of exploration while still in the navy.

Two ferry crossings aboard BC Ferries followed by a short 30 min drive from Saltery Bay, brought my fiancé and I back to a place where the size of the trail network is as big as the hearts of the passionate local trail builders that help to maintain and expand them. And believe me, the network is HUGE! That’s right, Powell River I have returned! My original trip to this area took place last fall, when I visited the community for my very first time. Invited out by the Sunshine Coast Tourism board and hosted by the Powell River Cycling Club, I had a blast exploring the vast network of beginner to intermediate singletrack the area boasts. You can read more about that trip here. This time I was back to ride the new trail Aloha, built specifically for the BC Bike Race, and to explore a few of the more advanced trails; something I’ve been longing to do.

Magnificent new bridge on Aloha Trail.
Magnificent new bridge on Aloha Trail.

Our tour guide and host is local builder Ron Diprose ‘Dipper,’ of the Powell River Cycling Club. Ron and I met last fall when he played the role of host, bike guide and ring leader to my visit – rounding up local riders to join us in our daily rides. We have been in regular contact since then, working on a trail book for the area. Ron was anxious and excited for our return, as he had a new piece of sweet, flowy singletrack to show off. Aloha is the new trail, which all BC Bike Race participants will get a chance to sample first hand this summer. Located in the Duck Lake area, this new intermediate cross-country trail is sure to delight all level of riders with its swooping, wide corners, buff singletrack and incredible views along its route. Built as a climbing trail, Aloha may also be descended; A local builder and school teacher is working on building up the bermed corners to provide more flow and to allow for speedy descents. Just be careful of oncoming traffic when flying down this trail, as the uphill rider gets right-of-way.

Ev's Trail provides.
Ev’s Trail provides.

After a day of playing on the trails of Duck Lake, I met up with John Rapp, the man responsible for building Ev’s trail. John took me out to ride in the Gallagher Hill area of Powell River, where some of the more advanced rides lie. The main trail we looped was Ev’s; a trail named after Evelyn, John’s girlfriend who helped flag the route. This advanced x-country/all-mountain ride is littered with rock slabs, rock drops and step-ups onto steep rock faces, making for some exciting riding. It’s well worth checking out if you’re looking for something more exhilarating to ride.

In-between our rides in Duck Lake and on Gallagher Hill, we ventured out with Russ Brewer, town councillor and Powell River Cycling Club past president. Russ and Ron took us to explore the North of Town trail network, riding Appleton Canyon and Marathon Trail. New trails are popping up in this area all the time and are worth checking out. Our favourite, hands down, is Marathon Trail. Marathon is an incredibly fun intermediate descending route, with a lot of flow. Not to mention it offers up one of the best views in the area from the Gibraltar Lookout; a must see.

Marathon Trail, a firm favourite.
Marathon Trail, a firm favourite.

The trip seemed like it was over before it really got started, but after many rides exploring the fantastic network it was time to head home. As always, it was a pleasure riding in Powell River. I’ve met a lot of interesting people in my past two trips, many who are becoming good friends. Thank you to Ron and Linda for being such gracious hosts, Wayne and Georgie for having us over for drinks, Chris for the naval stories and Chris’ wife Ramona for being the most illuminating person we’ve met! We had a blast and look forward to our next visit.

fuel_dining options

Fuel your ride: Powell River dining options

Powell River offers many great options for keeping yourself fueled, before and after your singletrack adventures. Here are a few of our recommendations to check out while in Powell River.

RIVER CITY COFFEE – If you’re in the mood for a quick grab and go breakfast head to River City Coffee. Located on Joyce Ave this local hot spot roasts their own beans and offers up some tasty baked goods and healthy and delicious wraps and sandwiches.

MAGPIE’S DINER – Need a little more than a coffee and tasty pastry to start your day? Magpie’s Diner is the place you want to go. Located on Cranberry Street this classic diner offers the large home-style breakfasts you desire. Waffles, French toast, Bacon and Eggs or their famous Eggs Benny, there are 8 different styles to choose from; whatever you are craving it is on their menu.

Little Hut Curry – Great food, friendly hosts, cozy atmosphere, and did we mention amazing food. The Little Hut Curry is located in a small house on Marine Ave, and this place needs to be on your “To Visit” list while in Powell River. Mohinder and his wife, who own and run the restaurant, are friendly and welcoming, and their passion for their food really shines through. We had the Four Corners nightly special, offering a sampling of four different dishes from different regions of India… all delicious. Whatever you do, leave room for dessert. The Fusion dessert was our favorite, offered in a small or large portion. The restaurant is a popular spot, therefore we would recommend making a reservation.

Costa Del Sol – A great Mexican meal is always the perfect end to a day on the trails. Costa Del Sol, also located on Marine Ave in a brightly painted house, offers Mexican and Latin dishes with a slight twist to include local ingredients. Costa Del Sol serves the local Townsite Brewing beers, ask for their recommendations on which local ale to try with your meal.

Suncoast Cycles have been around for years and the hundreds of boxes full of hard-to-find spares is proof of their quality and character.
Suncoast Cycles have been around for years and the hundreds of boxes full of hard-to-find spares is proof of their quality and character.

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