Dirt Bikes + Snowmobiles = Snow-Biking

© Cecile Gambin Photography

The geniuses at The Hershey Company figured out that if you put peanut butter and chocolate together you get something good. Now I’m not quite sure who created the snow-bike but the same concept holds true: take a dirt bike, remove the wheels, slap on a single ski up front and a track similar to that of a snowmobile behind and you get a snow-bike all of which doesn’t melt in your hands and makes you just as giddy as scarfing down a Peanut Butter cup.

Food aside, my good friend Jon Mutiger called up fellow snow-bikers to meet at Britton Creek Rest Area, just off the Coquihalla Highway this past Saturday. We met up with Kevin, Euc, and Dave all eager beaver to hit the snow but kinda spooked by the weather. They weren’t the only ones…according to everybody in the lower mainland, BC just hit record lows and the complaints I heard about the cold were hilarious. But before all you Vancouverites and other fine BC folks get all bent out of shape and call me an ‘Onterrible’ I need to let you know that I hate the cold. I don’t do well in it. My feet and hands have been frostbitten before and really dislike temps below 5C. So, it seemed fitting to try snow-biking for the first time under blue bird skies and morning temps hovering around -25C. The thought of trying my hand at riding in the deep, fluffy snow and photographing riders where a backdrop of crisp, clean whites and deep blues was too alluring to be bothered by the cold. To view all photos please click HERE.

Jon finished working on his bike installing a long track ‘Timbersled’ late Friday night. The plan was to ride 2-UP and I cannot thank Jon enough for agreeing to take me onboard. He smartly adapted BMX foot pegs to the rear of the bike so that I would have somewhere to place my feet. Because of the track the left peg was displaced further back when compared to the right peg which made for an interesting riding position. I couldn’t see myself travelling far distances with one leg stretched out well behind me while the other was in a more normal 90 degree bent position. As it was, Jon’s GPS recorded a 47 km trip. From time to time I did need to stretch and extend my left leg. This however wasn’t a big concern and I adapted quickly. The hardest part was trying to stay on the seat as my snowboard pants slipped on the rock (frozen) solid KTM seat. The steep verticals were a challenge as Jon needed to punch the throttle a few times to get us up and over. Funny enough while I was gripping the seat with my legs…my thoughts wandered back to when I was 15 and at the Canadian National Exhibition in Toronto where I rode a mechanical bull. I used my legs to hold on and allowed my upper body to relax and go with the flow. I’m a day dreamer – thinking of weird things while I should be concentrating – I’m odd like that!

Far from being on a mechanical bull though the ride on the snow-bike was relatively smooth. Until we hit a stump. Jon gasped and squawked milliseconds before we hit and I automatically braced myself gripping tighter with the legs and arms tightening around Jon’s waist. No worries…Jon’s a great rider and he expertly handled the stump – just a bump in the snow.

We did fall a few times though and the landing was soft. Actually, they weren’t ‘true’ falls but more of a slow-motion tip over. Please don’t think that these bikes tip easily. They don’t and are in fact very stable…I think. Alas, I can’t really write about how to ride them, or how they handle as I don’t have the experience and I failed miserably attempting to pilot Jon’s machine later in the day. Apparently, the trick is to give the bike lots of gas off the start. On my first two attempts I barely got the bike in motion and fell over. By the third time I realised how much more gas I needed to give it and happily rode about 10 metres before I had to turn (there were trees in front of me). I made it partially through my turn before I fell over. Jon looked at me patiently as I tried with all my might to lift the 350lb + machine in knee deep snow. I batted my eye lids and reduced myself to a princess by throwing up my hands in the air and yelled ‘I can’t lift it…it’s TOO heavy’.

© Cecile Gambin Photography

© Cecile Gambin Photography

I’m determined to learn how to ride one of these machines and will rent one in the future. There are several outfits that rent snow-bikes around the BC area. Geoff Kyle of Geoff Kyle’s Freeriding offer both rentals and guiding in the Whistler area. After spending a day as a passenger soaking in unreal sites I am ready to learn. Snow-bikes have the ability to go where sleds cannot – easily traversing slopes and riding steep verticals. The allure of fresh powder, and (wo)man-handling a bike through un-touched, rarely travelled terrain is appealing. Plus, I love the feeling of the bikes power when climbing and cutting through deep snow on tight turns. The feeling of floating across the powder is unmatched by dirt … not to mention there is no cleaning afterwards. No mud and always squeaky clean!


PS…you can laugh at me as this recent Ontario transplant may not have been afraid of the cold but I did manage to get frostbite on the end of my fingers. Serves me right for holding my camera and lens sans gloves. At least I got some killer photos!


Shopping, Trials & Tribulations in Crumpit Woods, BC

© Cecile Gambin PhotographyI think I have a bag fetish. A camera bag fetish to be exact. In preparation for my first big trials off-road ride in BC I marked the event with a few new purchases shopping for both myself and my trials bike for the unknown ride in Crumpit Woods. And by unknown I mean just that. Riding new terrain, in a new province, in an area that my good friend Jon Mutiger had never been to.

To start off my new adventure I decided to purchase a Lowepro Flipside 15L Sport Backpack which came the day before my ride. I needed a camera bag that would allow me to bring one pro camera body with either 1-2 lens and an external flash. I also needed a bag where I could store a few non-camera essentials such as bike tools, spare spark plug, some food, my phone, a point & shoot camera and some water. Water proof capabilities, adjustable straps and easy access were also high on my list. The Lowepro did not disappoint. It rained throughout the entire ride and the inside of the bag remained dry thanks to it’s external rain cover. The beauty of the bag though, and ultimately what sold me on this model, was how easy it is getting my equipment. I was able to stay on the bike, swing the pack around and grab my camera through a unique rear panel. Genious!! My only complaint would be the zipper system, and the waist band. I would prefer seeing a more rugged and waterproof system to keep out dirt, and dust as well as a padded waist belt.

My second purchase was for my bike. No longer wishing to carry extra fuel in my back pack I purchased an Acerbis Auxillary Fuel Tank for my Gas Gas TXT 200 Pro. This also meant that my camera equipment would be that much safer as I never really liked packing pre-mix along side. A relatively inexpensive addition ($99 plus free shipping from MX1) the tank, despite it’s garish looks, functioned flawlessly, providing me with an extra 3L of fuel (bringing the total up to 6L for me to play around with). The idea behind the tank is rather simple as the gas is drawn from the auxillary tank first and once empty it would take from the OEM tank. I should note though that I lost my breather hose in one of my ‘few’ falls. Victim of the trails I suppose.

So, it became quite clear that my first off-road motorcycle ride in BC was going to be a wet one as the weather man correctly forecasted foul weather. No matter…I was pumped and a ‘little’ rain did not damper my spirits as my friend Jon and myself headed towards Crumpit Woods just outside Squamish. The main trail head is in a new subdivision. Various mountain bike groups were assembled and ready to ride when we pulled up with our two Gas Gas’s on the trailer. No questions were asked or eye brows raised.

After checking the map and being gleefully delighted at all the trails available we hopped on and began our trek into what became a maze of never-ending trails. Meandering across the forest, the terrain varied in elevation and continued to twist and turn across rock and root infested trails in one area, and smooth, flowy turns and straights in another area. As we gained elevation the paths led us up steep granite hills. I tempted a few, fell, and than happily watched Jon as he gracefully manoeuvered his bike up and over the slick rock. I won’t bore you with the details of my falls but will tell you that my ego was bruised and I need to replace my front fender, bracket and possibly handle bars after a few newbie moves!

I followed Jon as I clearly had no clue where I was going. We had a blast exploring and thought at one point he was going to run out of gas, or me having to drag my bike out of the woods due to a mangled front end – details not available 🙂 Click on this link to see our route as recorded by Jon’s phone: https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B8Oj9VklLPwjS0NhMERYem1sdWM/edit?pli=1. I’m not sure how long we rode for nor the distance. I did go through approximately 3.5 litres of gas riding at a slow to medium pace.

Despite the wet rock and terrain I was amazed at how well the trails held up and how little mud there was. Being my first ride in BC I cannot tell you if there is a better trail to ride on a rainy day but I can say with certainty that Crumpit Woodss is a great place to ride in the rain with great traction and no wear and tear on the trails. Our faces weren’t even mud speckled! I will be back to visit Crumpit Woods again.

Thanks to Jon for a spectacular day. It was great to ride with him again!! Next up is a ride on my big bike with Kellee Irwin. I do not know where she will take me but I do know I am in for another great day of riding 🙂

Look for the black dotted lines, the solid purple lines and the purple dotted lines. Now check out the legend below!!


© Cecile Gambin Photography
First time I have ever seen the words ‘Trials Motorbike Trail’ on a legend. Uber cool!!
© Cecile Gambin Photography
Jon Mutiger with his Gas Gas TXT 280 and my Gas Gas TXT 200 with an Acerbis long range fuel tank.

Crumpit Woods-2

Crumpit Woods-3





Cecile Gambin Photography ready for the 2013 Ontario Off-Road Season

Offroad Ontario Algonquin Trail Ride
Taking five at the Algonquin 2 day ride
Homage to Ice 2012
Whether at the races for fun or for competition it’s always great to be riding with buddies.

The 2013 Ontario Off-road riding season is soon upon us and personally I cannot wait! An opportunity to share good times with friends, ride a new trail and become one with the bike. I am also looking forward to riding the trails with my camera gear in tow searching for those perfect action shots. I have many plans this summer and,  hopefully, some good news to share in a few weeks. In the meantime, Cecile Gambin Photography will be out in full force this season at most of the off road and cycling events throughout our great province. So, don’t forget to ham it up when you see my lens and say ‘hello’!

Calabogie Boogie Photo Report

Note: There are a few photos available from Saturday’s ride as I was limited to where I could stand due to weather. I have started an album and posted one picture only. If you are interested please email me details of your bike (plate number etc.) and I will see what I have.

Have you ever had a race, or a day, when you realise you should have just stayed in bed? Well that’s how I felt Saturday night as I was driving back home from the 2012 edition of BMA’s Calabogie Boogie trail ride. I stopped at the local Tim Hortons in Perth, picked up my BLT toasted on white with no sauce, and contemplated the day and my lack of photos. I sat in my still wet clothes inside my car for a good half hour, closed my eyes and tried to clear my mind. I called home, explained the day and my husband David told me to book a room and go back to the Boogie tomorrow. Bless his heart.

This event was important for me to shoot for several reasons. First, to document the ride and hopefully nail some shots so riders could have a few sweet pictures of themselves riding a classic event in difficult terrain and show their friends and family what they do when they ride off-road. Second, ‘Romaniac’ team mates Rome Haloftis, Barry Armstrong, Paul Phillip and Mike Pflug managed to talk pro Red Bull/Comsol Bell Racing enduro athlete Chris Birch from New Zealand to come to Canada and ride our trails. How cool is that? A world class enduro rider hitting our homegrown trails!

I arrived Friday night around 7pm with dark brooding clouds covering the Calabogie Highlands. It was great to meet up with people I had not seen in a while and I chatted up a storm. Nearing mid-night it was time to check into Hotel GMC and as I watched lightening strike across the lake I visualised the type of photo I wanted. Having ridden the Boogie several times in the past I knew how devastatingly difficult yet beautiful the terrain could be and I had envisioned the perfect shot…I just had no idea where in the 170+ km day I needed to go. Thankfully, Dave Wrack gave me some pointers and a map of Saturday’s trail ride.

Enter Saturday. Rain, thunder and more rain before the riders meeting should have given me a clue as to how this day was going to turn out. I headed out well in advance of the riders and checked out a few spots. And the rain continued. I thought about doing some ‘drive by shooting’ where I literally took pictures from the inside of my car but decided that the only place I could do that really did not make for exciting pictures. I realised I could not drive too far into the trail with my 2WD and so opted for hiding underneath a huge maple tree and hoped for the best. Soon enough, the rain got the better of my flash and I made the decision to pack up my gear and leave before I destroyed everything. Artistically I would have prefered to stand out in the open to allow the viewer to see the length, steepness and technicality of the trail but I decided to not risk damaging my camera gear. Electronics and water rarely mix well.

The rain continued heavily throughout the lunch hour. I had found the lunch stop and took refuge, along with the riders, under the two tents. I decided to change my game plan and chose to take photos for a project I am currently working on. Little did I know that was going to be my style of shooting for Sunday as well. Many riders opted out of riding the afternoon as the cold settled into their bones and chose to end the ride via the K&P Trail heading for the comfort of their hotel room, tent, or trailer. I decided to try one last area before I called it quits in my attempt to salvage my day. Kudos to the BMA pre-riders and volunteers continually upkeeping the trails the day of as high winds and rain knocked over larges branches.

Somewhat sheltered from the rain under the protection of a few trees the riders made their way up a slick rock infested hydro line before disappearing into a low cloud.
Check out the rain setting the stage for what became a long arduous day in the saddle.
Umbrellas were the hot item before the ride.
And more umbrellas.
In queue waiting for sound check and dodging rain drops.
Despite the rain some riders were all smiles. Love the positive attitude!! View these pics on a large monitor and you can see the rain steadily getting harder.
There are truly some hard core riders out there and this guy screams that. Head down, wool sweater…rock and roll old man! (Meant with the upmost respect.)

During the lunch break I took shelter under the two tents, along with the other riders. It was getting crowded and this was honestly the only opportunity for me to take photos in a relatively dry area. I took advantage of it.

Taking refuge in a trailer by the lunch tent. Rain is progressively becoming harder and cool air slowly taking over.
Heading out after a warm lunch sandwich Jeff Denton, Ed Kikauka and um…not sure who the other rider is get ready for the second leg of their journey.
Wringing out the gloves ready to tackle the trails once more.
Rome Haloftis seen emptying a recycled water bottle as a make shift jerry can ’cause he ran out of gas. See the rain in the corner of the photo? Yup, still raining…hard.
Chris Birch riding a slick, rocky technical uphill late in the day. Thanks are also extended to the super kind sweepers for helping me find this trail, and for helping me with my trials bike (carbs gummed up). Thanks a heap!
A boyish grin from a very humble world class athlete.


Chris Birch chillin’ on the days last extreme section. Hurray…the rain stopped by mid-afternoon.

Sunday – blue skies and cool temps greeted the region today. Back at base camp riders were eagerly prepping themselves for another great day in the saddle. Sadly though, the MNR decided to kibosh the killer trails on the north side and along with it the beautiful scenery. And, unfortunately, I mis-read the map and realised that most of the riders were on a trail to my far left thus resulting in me missing the pretty much everybody in the morning. At that point, I decided to change my game plan, again, and just take pictures to satisfy my creative itch.

Despite the foul weather and land issues BMA ran a top-notch event and riders came away happy. As for myself…my misfortunes on Sunday were all of my own doing. Serves me right for always following David and not paying attention to map reading 101. Overall, I may not have been able to get the photos I had envisioned but I am quite happy with the pictures I did take. Kudos are extended again to all the help the BMA crew gave me and for creating a great and unforgetable weekend.

Sunday morning and I betcha that riding gear isn’t dry.
Riding the hydro line on a beautiful Sunday morning. Thanks to all the riders who gave me a wave. Feelin’ the love!
Swinging out the rear end stylin’ it for the camera 🙂
This is my favourite photo of the weekend. Sue and Scott – a wonderful couple deeply involved in bettering the off-road scene finding some quiet time together before hitting the road again.
I asked Chris if he liked our trails and he said ‘yes’ and even loved, and welcomed, the rain yesterday. I guess they don’t get much rain in South Africa which has been his home for the past two years.
Not sure what the guys are looking at but I was checking out the trial tire on the back of the KTM.
Rome and Chris tackling another pink section.
Final stretch of Sunday’s ride. You’re almost there buddy. Thanks to the BMA crew and volunteers for providing a safe and kick-ass event show casing Ontario’s finest trails. It was a hard ride Saturday but in the end it was a great and unforgetable event and one that will only make us stronger physically and mentally.







SCORRA knows how to put on a fun day. In fact, I decided to do just that…have fun. Early this morning I loaded both my Gas Gas TXT 200 trials bike and my KTM 200. I also grabbed my camera gear but decided to take pictures with my fun camera – my iPad. It was afterall a ‘Fun Day’.

I started the day chatting with people I had not seen in a while as I slowly geared up and unloaded my bikes. SCORRA had it all: trails, MX track, trials area, and kids MX track. Honda and MotoHeadz were also on board with demo bikes. OFTR, Mission Cycle, the boys from St. Onge, and many others were also available to help out with suspension issues, and other great answers to questions.

I decided to hit the trials area first as I had not used my trials bike yet this year. And it showed. I plowed into the logs and got my bike over but not in a trials like way. It worked but it was not pretty and it showed my lack of clutch control. Next the A Frame. Well…I got hung up at the top. Three times. I looked around and spotted a very vertical teeter-totter. I can do that I thought to myself. I’ve done these many times on both my trials and mountain bikes. Done!

By this time Dave Butler had come out to give me some pointers on double gas blips. I tried but did not conquer and than left. Typical of my short attention span I decided to move onto something else and hit the trails. So, I parked the bike and hopped on the KTM. Gotta love a day when you can do that. Went out with my friend Gary Shackleton and rode the trails at RJ’s. Fun, fun and fun. But also, hard, hard and hard! Lots of deep ruts, exposed roots, rocks, braking and suspension bumps. After the trail session Gary and I hit the MX track. Loads of fun riding on a track and a completely different beast over woods riding. There used to be a double by the grandstand a few years ago. That was a fun one to jump but now they all seemed huge. Probably me shrinking. In any case, I decided to be mature and save myself from potential injury by keeping the wheels on the ground.

After lunch I decided to tackle the Williams track and I fell in love. Who ever designed these trails had woods bike in mind. Flow, flow and flow. That’s how I like my trails! Thanks to Jaime for hanging out with me for that ride.

Here are a few pictures from today. Again, my focus was on riding today. Not camera work. Sorry people but I have not ridden much this year and my bikes were calling for me. It felt to good to be back in the saddle and I know my legs will be sore tomorrow!

Huge thanks to SCORRA and there volunteers for a great event!

Waiting to ride. Pre-riders meetings.
Tracy from OFTR with the Zero bike. Never did get a chance to try it but those who did came back with huge smiles. Take-off is rocket like. Super fast!
It was good to catch up with The Jervais Family from MotorHeadz. Had not seen them since the purchase of my 2008 Gas Gas TXT200.
A collection of people images.
The teeter-totter. One of the few trials obstacles I actually did with some degree of trials control.
Crowds filling in.
Always fun to hang around with and a damn good rider…except during water crossings 🙂


Algonquin 2 Day: 26 years in the making.

The Algonquin 2 Day ride is as much as being with friends as it is enjoying the ride.

To view all Saturday and Sunday photos please click HERE. Note: not all photos have been uploaded. Please email if you need help finding yourself. And don’t forget to include a description of your bike, clothing or some other easily identifiable piece.

Twenty-six years ago the Algonquin 2 Day ride began it’s debut as an enduro. Over the years it has evolved into a well established 2 day ride earning a reputation as a ride not to miss. Settled in and around the Madawaska area, just east of Algonquin Park, the ride has the ability to take the most seasoned and skilled rider and reduce them to rubble. And, if you are lucky to survive the 2 days you have earned the right to brag and say ‘I have survived’.

Notorious for mud bogs, rocky uphills, water crossings, river crossings, beaver dams, bear and moose sightings, drowned bikes, mechanical failures, deer flies, long arduous mud infested climbs, and ‘hissy fits’ for the weak – the Algonquin 2 day ride will undoubtedly make you into a better rider…or, at the very least…a better field mechanic.

Navigating Sunday’s water crossing.


Even the most expert riders fall in. And if you don’t reconise this guy his initials are G.S. and now stand for ‘Gone Swimming’ 🙂
Perhaps troubled by a stalled bike, and almost witnessing the rider in front of him take a plunge, pro rider Kevin Cockayne decides to play it easy and walk across the river.
Taking five and chatting with friends with only 5 km’s left of Saturday’s 180 km route.
Tired, dirty, and hungry. Never mind the cops…check out the breath taking scenery.
Welcome to Algonquin riding. Scenic vistas, water, trees, rocks, mud, wild animals and much more.


Sweet flowing single track nestled among the pines. Betcha didn’t know Algonquin had trails that could rival the best of the Ganaraska in Southern Ontario.
Half way through Saturday’s ride and still smiling! BTW, Ted you rock the red!!
Riding the hydro lines ready to pick up a pink arrow into the areas best singletrack.
Having fun and making the best of a mechanical.


Typical Algonquin rocky terrain.
Nature calls. It happens. Just know that if you go pee beside a photog you may get your picture taken 🙂


Riding a rail trail.
Entering a cedar and pine tree forest. Day one. Kilometer 5.
Kicking up some dust and keeping up the speed.
A much welcomed lunch break complete with smiles, bloody faces and a bbq lunch!
Ummm…put the tire back on, than the chain. Fixing a flat during lunch.


At the end of the day – nothing better than chillaxin’ with the feet up after a quick dip in the river, and reminiscing about the days adventures.
And of course, no campsite would be complete without Bubba Gump’s rockin’ trailer. Kickass sound system and rockin’ tunes!!

Not only is the Algonquin a must do event – it’s one of those rides that make life long friendships as people team up to help each other in difficult terrain. Thanks to Paul and Kirk Holden, and the numerous volunteers for hosting this years event. Not only were the trails a blast to ride, the apres-ride activities, bbq’s, river dipping and good times with friends make for an unforgettable ride.

**To view all Saturday and Sunday photos please click HERE and please note tjat not all photos have been uploaded (there are lots). Please email if you need help finding yourself. And don’t forget to include a description of your bike, clothing or some other easily identifiable piece to help me find you easilier.



2 Day Algonquin

Heading out this Friday for the 2 Day Algonquin. I have been a participant numerous times, a pre-rider, led a children’s ride and even a women’s ride. I even had a ‘hissyfit’ (just ask my husband David) one year as my new bike was being pounded and I put yet another new dent in the pipe.

This year though I will be returning to the 2 day Algonquin not as one of the above but as a photographer. Which will be both fun and challenging at the same time. I must remember to bring my ‘bear bell’ as I am sure one is going to find his way near me as I sit silently in the bush waiting for riders. Or, perhaps a moose. That actually happened once…where a young bull moose jumped out of the woods right in front of me on the trail. Scared the beezebies out of me. Dang thing wouldn’t move out of the way either. It just kept galloping down the road for about 1 km not at scared by my Gas Gas 200 TXT trials bike. I guess I really did not look that intimidating.

I am hoping to capture the beauty of this ride and why it is both popular and difficult. When people decide to skip races to attend this event it tells you something. My goal is to create images that are compelling and able to bring a story to the table because that’s exactly what I am out for this weekend…material for my photographic book.

So, if you need to get a hold of me…I will be back late Sunday night. I will not have internet access, or email for that matter as I am on the ‘down-low’ plan.