It had been a long hot day, and after getting off work I was in need of some fun. This wasn't quite what I had in mind for the evening, but luckily I was prepared, and I'd brought the right bicycle for the job. There was still an hour or so of daylight left by the time I made the decision to see if I could reach this drain; which I knew existed thanks to the previous explorations of others.
After cruising uphill into the suburbs, and with daylight fading, I managed to locate the large creek inlet that was my objective. The creek itself flows into short culverts under the large, graffiti-covered diversion pipe opening. The large gate that used to cover the inlet was lying aside, in pieces, taken apart by city crews for some reason. I didn't particularly feel like locking up my bike on the street, so I lifted it over the gate and carried it down, over the stream, into the pipe itself. Once there, I realized (with much joy) that the pipe was large enough that I could just bring my bike into the drain; and theoretically ride it all the way down to the sea- underground!
Initially, the pipe was cluttered with discarded spraypaint cans, garbage, and pieces of broken wood. A little bit of stagnant water, smelling of shit, was pooled in the bottom. The sides were heavy with graffiti, from somewhat nice tags to pointless scrawls ('V' is for Vandalism, kids!). I rode in about 50m, and the pipe came to a small junction. Leaving my bike, I grabbed a spare light and headed upstream into the shorter RCP. The drain made a hard left turn up a slide, and then went for a long straight shot. I was only wearing running shoes, and didn't feel like having wet feet, so I had to 'penguin' walk the whole way- very hard on the legs. Just when I was about to turn back, I came across a ten-meter section of steel pipe! A very strange thing to find, and with no obvious purpose. The pipe itself was interesting because, rather than having been laid in sections (like RCP), it looked like a single, long spiral piece of 1/4" thick steel had been installed; possibly inside an existing section of concrete pipe.
Back at the junction, I got back on my bike and continued riding downstream. Small areas where the pipe sections joined each other had been worn away, exposing the steel wire reinforcing. Some of the wires had actually been ripped away, and stuck out like long, thin thorns; somewhat dangerous when you're bicycling through a drain. I worried about getting a flat tire underground.
My bicycle headlight was pretty dim, and I could just barely see what was ahead of me. The pipe sloped steadily downward, meaning that I only had to keep a finger on the brake levers and steer around the potholes. When I rode into a large junction room, I grabbed the brakes just in time; ahead of me was a steep slide. This large room was nifty, with a tall ceiling and large bits of graffiti. To the west was another creek inlet, with its grate (unfortunately) intact. After a few photos, I walked my bike down the slide, then cautiously rode downstream into the 2100 RCP.
After a few more minutes of carefully coasting down the pipe, I pulled the brakes again at the top of another slide. This one was steeper, and I left my bike at the top while I went down to investigate. The drain sloped steeply, and I could hear a strange noise in distance. The pipe opened up into a square room, which shrank in half at the far side. I could hear what sounded like waves close by, and I crouched down and walked in. Ahead, the strange watery noises grew louder, and eventually I could see the drain filled with water. To my delight, it was high tide and sea water was flowing into the drain in small waves. The incoming water also produced some very strange noise: Imagine a low, reverberating bass rumble like a freight train, combined with the sound of waves, and random "booming" sounds. In the short, dark confines of the drain, it was somewhat frightening- as though a huge tsunami was about to come rushing up the pipe.
After listening to the odd sounds for a while, I jogged back up to where I'd left my bicycle. The ride back to the inlet was more fun because it required pedaling. The size of the pipe (about 1800) didn't leave much room to manoeuvre, and the ceiling was always close to my helmet. I'd like to do this again in a bigger pipe, and in one with no bits of jagged metal reinforcing wire sticking out.
It was late by the time I carried my bike out of the creek and lifted it out over the gate onto the street. On the long ride home, I couldn't help but smile as I thought about how so many people come to Vancouver's North Shore to ride the famous trails; and how fitting it was to coincidentally bike this drain.