If one were to ask me what my favourite trail is, I would reply, “The next one”. But that’s not the purpose of this article. However, I find it difficult to pick one trail as my all-time favourite, but I’ll narrow it down to sentimental value.
Ladies Only, Mount Fromme - North Vancouver, British Columbia.
An iconic North Shore trail built by the legendary Todd “Digger” Fiander. Although Ladies Only is far from my current favourite, it has a special place in my heart. It was my first introduction to North Shore mountain biking back in the mid-90s when I was first learning how to ride. Back then, I stumbled upon this trail almost by accident. And after seeing it for the first time, I thought it was a hiking trail. I was convinced nobody in their right mind could ride it.
Since I just started mountain biking, most trails were daunting to me. I took this as a challenge and set out to learn how to ride these challenging North Shore trails, like Ladies Only. It was almost an addiction to keep pushing my riding abilities and honing my craft. Like a lot of North Vancouver’s mountain bike trails, Ladies has a double black diamond rating due to a few butt-clenching features, like the Big Stupid - an off-camber rock roll at the end of the trail that exits through two narrow trees. Alternatively, there is an even sketchier exit that features a very steep fall line filled with bald roots and slippery rocks (see photo).
I rode Ladies Only (that sounds so wrong) so many times that it became my training trail for racing downhill. I would push my 40-plus-pound downhill bike up there and loosely time myself, before the invention of smartphones and Strava. This trail almost single-handedly allowed me to make it to the elite ranks in downhill racing.
That was nearly 25 years ago. Back then I didn’t mind it if there were ladder bridges and log skinnies on a trail. Now, you can find me avoiding those trail features at all costs. Still, Ladies Only holds a special fondness that will always stick with me. I don’t ride it very much anymore, trading in slow tech lines with speed and flow. But I still like to go up there, sometimes without a bike, just to look around at all the old lines.