7mesh lies at the heart of the Sea-to-Sky Corridor, stretching from Horseshoe Bay near Vancouver through Squamish, Whistler, and into the Pemberton Valley beyond. Though the character of each community varies, they share exposure to the beautiful geography and geology of the region and the expansive Canadian wilderness beyond. The unusual Coastal/Mountain character of the Sea-to-Sky has attracted an amazing collection of craftsmen and creators who are defining their own niches in their chosen professions. “THE CORRIDOR” showcases the creativity and artisanship of the men & women that inspire us.
For most people, trail building will not be the first thing that comes to mind for craftsmanship. But for mountain bikers it should rank near the top! Take a spin down any one of Ted Tempany and his Dream Wizards crew’s creations and you will see workmanship that marries functionality and sustainability, always with a vision for the rider’s enjoyment.
When did you start mountain biking?
I started mountain biking in the 80’s.
How long after did you start getting into building your own trails?
Trail building really started in the early 90’s helping my friends building and maintaining trails in the early 1990’s around Whistler, a couple are still around, Crazy Train and South of Heaven. There were fewer riders and even less builders, so everyone helped out when they could to make it happen. Trail etiquette was very important back then.
“I love riding other trail builders work, we are extremely lucky to have so many gifted, hardworking trail builders in Squamish.”
Did you ever think that it would turn into a job?
No, I never really thought of it that way. Then John Cowan and I started traveling around to build for Big D’s series New World Disorder. John grew up operating machines and was a great person to learn from. Things progressed fast after sponsorship dollars became available for us to try new things.
When did you decide that it was time to make the plunge deeper and start investing in machinery?
We were always on the road building new features in scenic locations, so I had lots of time in rental machines. After we succeeded in bringing the Red Bull Rampage back from the dead in 2008 I decided it was time to slow down the traveling and focus on Squamish completely. We have always used the profits from our business elsewhere to build trails locally and the Provincial Government was ready to work with to user groups to permit trail construction. So I gambled a bit and bought my first excavator in 2009.
What is your favourite tool and why?
My favourite tool has to be the mini excavator. It can do so much work in a short period of time. It’s all about production at the trail factory. Nothing moves dirt faster in our terrain than an excavator. My rake is a close second, doing nice light trail maintenance work with rake is a great way to spend my free time.
What’s your favourite trail to ride?
It is constantly changing, depends on the day, weather, mood and time available. In Squamish our diverse selection of trails can satisfy most of my strange cravings on any given day. Each area has its own character and flavour. I love riding other trail builders work, we are extremely lucky to have so many gifted, hardworking trail builders in Squamish.
Where are the best built trails you’ve ever seen?
I really like the Galbraith trails in Washington, and the DJ lines that develop in random places.Seems like areas with less options for trail development always have the best layouts. Our riding community always wants more new trails and sometimes it would nice to see some of our trails developed to their full potential instead of abandoned or bandaged back together every few years.
How have they influenced what you build?
Quality over quantity. The excavator really allows us to build trails that will require less maintenance over the long term. Our DOS trail crew cannot keep up with the maintenance of existing trails that require constant work to keep them running well. It is important that all new trails are built to a higher standard.
Outside of bike trails, who else have you built trails for?
We build multi use, horse, hiking, motorized, and last summer we built a running specific trail. The Province, SLRD, DOS, BC Parks, and private developers like the Bethel Group and the Sea to Sky Gondola all hire us for because we are able to build their specific needs economically.
A lot of the trails you build are on a larger scale then just heading into the woods with a rake and a shovel? Describe the process of negotiating red tape before you even break ground.
Trying to get permissions in place is some of the hardest work involved with trail building. We work with a number of different Land Managers, Recreation Officers, associations for the different user groups, and of course First Nations. Trails connect so many different areas that BC Hydro, Forestry, Ministry of Transportation, Ministry of Environment, the railway and many other stake holders that need to be consulted. Environmental concerns need to be addressed and there are bunch of people behind the scenes making that happen. Thanks!
“Dream Wizards has been making money elsewhere and bringing it home to Squamish for 15 years and we are not going to stop now.”
Once you’re approved, where do you start with a trail?
We look at who is going to use the trail, then fine tune our approved alignment for the best drainage for longevity. We are constantly making small changes as we build to boost the durability and maximize the experience for the trail users.
How is the town of Squamish supportive of building trails?
Over the last three years the District of Squamish has committed $180,000 to hire students to do trail maintenance.
What can communities do build a trail system that riders will be drawn to?
Build beginner and intermediate trails. It’s the grass roots.
What makes a good network of trails?
Fun variety, connectivity, and durability.
What trail did you build that you’re most proud of?
Panda, Legacy Climb and Half/Full Nelson. It makes a great loop any season. We were able to show good value for the community investment.
Drilling down even deeper is the a specific feature or section of trail that you are most excite to ride yourself?
I love technical climbing right now, Credit line has a tough punchy climb, Mice and Men, Legacy and the Panda have a couple tight steep sections. It’s rewarding to clean those pitches. Every trail needs to have those bits that challenge you.
What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made in building a trail?
The biggest mistake has to be trying please everyone, and trying to stretch tiny SORCA budgets over big projects. We have subsidized most of the trail building on Diamond Head, but losing money building trail isn’t new. It just makes us more grateful for the larger contracts we get. Dream Wizards has been making money elsewhere and bringing it home to Squamish for 15 years and we are not going to stop now.
Once a trail is “done”, how often do you go back for maintenance?
No trail is completely maintenance free. Grade reversals, ditches and culverts will always need cleaned up. Small puddles turn into big puddles then major rebuilds are required, so it is important to constantly keep the water sheeting freely off the tread. More than a few sections on Diamond Head have been built in bad wet conditions so it is nice to go back and shape things once they have dried out.
What advice would you give to new trail builders?
Get permission. Go work with an experienced builder, maintain existing trails with the permission of the original builder, and don’t build new trail without consulting with someone experienced first. We crossed a dozen abandoned trail projects when we built the Legacy Climb. So much lost energy. We need to maintain the trails we have first.