Monday, July 30, 2012

What's Golden

I was trying to find an excuse to skip town and head to Golden. The flow of Mt.7 has been on my mind ever since I rode it last year. Golden was also hosting some fairly low key road races which were the first 2 rounds of the Kicking Horse Cup.

I was feeling good riding up Mt. 7, the road is doable with my 36T chainring (34t cassette sprocket), and with some waiting, it was about 2hrs to the top (1:30-1:45 of moving time) for 14km and 1150m of vertical. Just in time to watch some paragliders take off!

We weren't feeling up to some of the harder stuff, so we dropped into the Summit trail to 10K, and then to the main DH course. 
sliced my tire just before the 5K feeds in. Put a tube patch in there and rode tentatively, but it held
I decided that I was still feeling good, so I decided to continue and race the hill climb stage of the Kicking Horse cup. Feels different to bust out the race wheels again...

The hill climb was 14km, over 500m of elevation gain, but not steady. I was able to move off the front on the first part of the course, but I got caught on a flatter section, then gapped on the last kick up to the finish to roll in 2nd, but with a respectable time. 

Post race, we enjoyed some rope swing action.
Bill's a rope swing guru, I let him go first

the best action shot

my turn
Camped in the parking lot, sleep interrupted by some drunken wankers who know nothing about hockey and talking about how they pussed out on the rope swing.

The next morning, I convinced myself to do the road race as with small fields, it would be pretty chill. The format was an Australian pursuit masters race, so the older categories started first with a head start. They combined the U30 with the 30-39, but the 40-49 and 50-59 fields were also decent sized, so it would be hard to make up the start gaps. Course was nice and hilly, a great change from the flat races that I used to do. 15km out and back, for 2 laps so about 60km. 

Pace was pretty chill off the start, but on the way back, I dropped the hammer on the bigger as it was only a 60km road race and I needed to make it hard or else it would come down to a DOWNHILL sprint finish. I got away with a group of 3, and we were joined by 2 more as we rolled through for the start of lap 2, but with a dwindling gap over more chasers. On the 2nd lap, I did the exact same thing on the hill, just rolled strong up the hill and was away solo! I had my work cut out for me. Some slight downhill rolling terrain to the finish. I pushed it real hard but was caught with 600m to go, too frustrated and fatigued to do much to contest the DOWNHILL sprint and lost to a guy with CX chainrings. I set some new power records from 5min to 60min, so that eased the pain.

I needed the engine from this on the flats

Overall a well organized race, and I'm definitely planning on continuing on with the series with the Dark Horse Enduro next weekend, and some CX races during the first weekend of September. The Aussi pursuit format is fun: similar to having some breakaways on the road, and if you get dropped, you usually can find someone to ride with, but I think it would be more fun and competitive using ability groups instead of age groups.

The plan was to head south to Invermere to give Mt. Swansea a rip. I was able to get a great deal on a tire from Derailed Bikes in Golden. A small shop, but incredibly chill. We will return because the mech. there has some trail beta for us!

We started up the steep road up Swansea, definitely a little ring with big tires and fatigued legs after 2 hard races. Bill doesn't have a little ring, so he pushed. Eventually we got to the top and dropped in, but got onto a trail that resembled more a steep creekbed than a mountain bike trail. For those reading this, Lower Booty Call is not recommended. Take Steeps instead. We then traversed over and found a super buff trail. The fun continued down lower, until the trail dropped over some steep outcrops and looked a little washed out, so we opted for an easier option. which was fun, until there was a creek running down the trail and it was muddy. Finally, we got onto the Meat Grinder, which ended in a fun chute back to the parking lot. Overall, some fun, but some suffering.

Fun trails, then total hell. WTF just happened?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Coast Return and Vertical Challenge

After a late night of dancing and responsible consumption of adult beverages, it was time to say goodbye to family after our short coastal stay and head back. We decided to head back through the Sea to Sky route with the intention of checking out Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton, or Lillooet. It was raining in Squamish and Whistler, but Pemberton was looking to be tacky, which is apparently unusual at this point in the summer, so we just had to ride there!

Doing it Pemberton

With the assistance of the trailhead map, I was able to put together what I thought would be a good loop: A long climb up to a microwave tower followed by a "blue" level descent back to the parking lot. I was having problems finding the NIMBY 50 course map on the website using my smartphone. Anyways, the climb went by quickly and the descent for the top (Middle Earth) was not too difficult. Then we continued on to Let it Go, which is a fun 2 way trail, we were riding it as a descent that led us towards NIMBY. Now, had I found the NIMBY50 map, I would have found out that NIMBY is actually supposed to be a climb. 10,000 tight descending switchbacks later, we arrived at the access road rattled, dazed, and confused, only wanting to head into town to slam some McDonalds, curl up into a ball and cry. It was only then that I was able to find the map on the website. So yeah, we will have to return to do Pemberton the right way...

Hwy 99 winds up towards Lillooet, and there are lots of free campgrounds along the creek.
The Silver surfer in her natural element.

Return to Salmon Arm

When you break up the drive into sections, it actually goes by pretty quickly. The leg from Hwy 99 to Salmon arm was not that bad. We had some unfinished business in Salmon Arm, the Rubberhead trail system. Lots of variety here with some steeps, rough rocks and roots and flow, all in the same trail. Definitely will have to return here, but alas, we have to continue our journey home.

And back through Revelstoke

Why blow through Revelstoke when you can stop and enjoy some of the best riding? Plus, I had more vertical to crush. Again we made the mistake of trying to ride Frisby Ridge. It is "open" now, but it is also SNOW COVERED! Well, I got to rip Ultimate Frisby yet again. Bill still hasn't ridden that trail because he has had to drive the vehicle down every time haha! We salvaged our quick Revelstoke experience by riding Flowdown and Tantrum. The perfect combination of flowy trails and technical cross country.

Flow trails

They really know how to make trails in Revelstoke. I roll my eyes every time I hear word of a new "flow trail" as it is usually quite the opposite. Corners that require you to dump all your speed and even skid or manual to get around them and undulations that trap wheels and activate suspension and don't allow the rider to carry speed. Some people think a "flow trail" is just a trail that is devoid of technical features such as roots and rocks. I think it should be mandatory for every builder who has special permission or is using someone else's money to build a "flow trail" to ride Frisby Ridge and Flowdown (along with the other trails at the MacPherson nordic centre) so that they know what a "flow trail actually is.

Back in Canmore, the vertical challenge continues!

Okay, so I was trying to accumulate 6887m of vertical (don't ask) as quickly as possible. Pemberton, Salmon Arm, and Revelstoke put a good dent in that, but I had my work cut out for me in Canmore. I did some Silvertip repeats on the road bike.

But the real treat was getting up high on the mountain bike. I've had this trail on my list for a while as it is considered to be a classic. Jumpingpound Ridge/Cox Hill.

The alpine on this ride is absolutely mindblowing. Everything looks so far away, but you quickly pedal up to it. The climbs are steep, lots of rocks and roots, but the descent of Cox Hill is rough, technical and enjoyable.

Finished off the day with a lap of the 24hours loop, which was marked. 57mins. The course is really fast, and  it seems like they have tried to make the climbs as easy as possible (low grade, but more switchbacks, in the process RUINING Ziggy's, Killer Bee's, and Matching Jerseys). Nectar Noodle and Sherwood Forest are the only really technical sections. Personally, I would prefer a little more technical to slow things down as crashes at slower speeds are LESS DANGEROUS. But I guess they need to make it easy and fast for the weekend warriors who only care about how many KM's they rode...

I wanted to finish it off the next day, so I started off riding the Reclaimer, then on to Highline
I can't quite see my house from here!
and a short loop at the nordic centre, before throwing down a couple more Silvertip repeats...and a Stoney Nakoda Buffet slay!!!

Still had 350m left and I wanted to finish that day, so I borrowed Bill's Serfas 1500 light and set off for a night ride with a full stomach. Holy crap, no wonder he calls that thing "the Sun"!

Going Coastal part 1

Salmon Arm 
Back out on the road, on our way to a wedding in Vancouver, we stopped in Salmon Arm. The goal was to ride the Larch Hills Traverse, a 38km trail ride from Salmon Arm to Sicamous, then ride Hwy 1 back to Salmon Arm, making for a 66ish km ride. We did this in about 5.5hrs, which was pretty chill for me.

What can I say about the Larch Hills Traverse? Well there are lots of gravel roads and double track. You don't hit singletrack until the 19km mark, unless you climbed up single track at the South Canoe trail network, where the Salty Dog race is. As well, there are some long double track sections that connect the singletrack. Some of the singletrack sections are fun and flowy, while others have some pretty ridiculous switchbacks. I distinctly remember a clearcut section where the trail doubled back on itself and I could pretty much high five Bill as he passed the other way. The final descent into Sicamous is fun and flowy, but the flow is killed by the switchbacks where we had to dump ALL of our speed and sometimes pick our bikes up to make the turns.

Moondust at the parking lot, but some impassible mud sections up high.

Log down. We're getting closer to Sicamous, I bet if this trail had less flow killing switchbacks, it would get ridden more, and someone would take care of that tree.

It was HOT
It was pretty cool to ride from one community to another via trails, but I think I will skip this ride again unless I am with a group who wants "speed traverse" it. After a dip and refuel in the Shuswap lake, we headed out for a short evening ride at the South Canoe trails, and did the last 2 descents of the Salty Dog course. Fast and fun, enough to make me consider signing  up for this race in January (it sells out quick!)

Free slurpee day in Armstrong, BC

The Cosen's Bay trails have always looked appealing to me, and finally it was time to ride them! The sign at the trailhead warned of bears, cougars (yawn, I'm from CANMORE!), and rattlesnakes EEEK! I was able to put together a fun loop for a shorter ride on trails like Purple Haze, Twista, Cabin, and No Boats (in chronological and in order of declining difficulty too!). The real treat came at the end, ripping the Bear Valley and sections of the High Rim trail (a trail that ultimately goes from Vernon to Kelowna) back to the parking lot. Flowing singletrack through wildflowers and tall grass put a smile on my face all the way back to the car. Bill wasn't feeling it and took it easy after Purple Haze, and he missed out on some more great trails!

A dip in Kalamalka Lake recharged us for the journey ahead. We wanted to get a start towards Vancouver so that we could ride. Hwy 97C goes up over 1700m and we could not resist camping up high to get out of the heat and to camp in an altitude tent.

A nice and early start with a quick stop in Merrit to check out a trail map (looks like lots of good riding there, I will have to check it out sometime!), and we were off to Vancouver.


Although we were well out of rush hour, I think I have discovered the perfect way to travel THROUGH the Vancouver area. There is excellent mountain biking in pretty much every lower mainland community (W. Van, N. Van, Burnaby, Coq, Maple Ridge, Mission, Chilliwack) so instead of getting frustrated at getting caught in traffic, why not pull over, get out and go ride for a couple of hours!

Anyways, we didn't have much information, but I had heard of racing at Bear and Red Mountains near Mission (aka, they have not been logged or developed).

We rode a really fun new trail at Bear Mountain, and then met up with another rider who showed us an extension to that descent. Then we headed up Red Mountain, but unfortunately we headed up a hiking trail, which aside from some tight switchbacks, wasn't that bad. Next time, I will have to make sure I have the maps downloaded to my phone or my camera beforehand!


Rush hour was approaching, so we decided to check out Burnaby Mountain aka SFU. The trails there must get a lot of use as there was lots of rock work done on them. We had fun riding classics like the Cardiac Climb, Gearjammer, Snake, Mels, Poplar, and Nicoles. I understand the need for manmade trail work to improve sustainability, but I was getting more COPish vibes from SFU than say Bear Mountain where natural features such as rock slabs were neatly integrated.

After a couple of days of camping, it was nice to have a real shower at Grandma's.

I came up with the idea of doing the Grouse Grind. Nothing much to say but wow is it busy. I crushed it in 32mins, but I was pretty much passing people the whole time. We descended down the quieter BCMC trail instead of forking over $10 each for a tram ride, not sure if my knees enjoyed that. They were begging for some skis or my bike...

Seeing two people who want to make the commitment to spend the rest of their lives together was beautiful. It was enjoyable meeting up with family members who I haven't seen in a long time.

Stoked to get Spanked

Well, I've been busy riding.

First off was the Stoked to get Spanked race in Revelstoke on July 8. I had a tough decision to make, whether to race this one or to race the Perogy XC in Edmonton on the same day. But ultimately I could either race fun, flowy, technical singletrack, or tight, cornery trails in Edmonton, so I opted for Revelstoke.

The course was extrememly fun with a good mix of road climbs, technical climbs, technical flat singletrack, flowy descents, and technical descents offering a complete mountain bike experience. The 17km loop which we did 2x was demanding. It was also my first 30degree day of the year. With the long loop and hot temperatures, I opted for racing with a hydration pack, something I should have done at the Bow80 (instead of having to stop to swap bottles).

I rolled with the lead group for a bit until getting gapped a little on the descent, and I had to hammer the climbs pretty hard to avoid getting caught by better technical riders behind me. Ultimately, I finished 4th (BUT I FINISHED 2ND IN MY AGE GROUP!!!!!), completely exhausted, legs cramping (though the hydration pack mitigated this), sore back (caused by the hydration pack?), SPANKED. The cold Begbie Ale provided in the $40 entry fee was incredibly welcome...

Pictures  and here

Overall, a well orangized race. Fun course, they gave away lots of sweet prizes, had multiple age groups and courses for kids races, and kept the energy high in the start/finish area with music and food. I would recommend this event to a friend.

After a much needed dip in Kinbasket lake, which was actually much warmer because of all of the water they have been letting off,

we thought it would be a good idea to ride Frisby ridge. Unfortunately, we found out that it was closed until July 15, AFTER we drove all the way to the parking lot. Oh well, I got to rip Ultimate Frisby again and tell Bill all about how good it was. We tried to salvage the day by riding a trail I rode on McKenzie last year, which ended up beating us up even more.

The next day, I took it easy and rode Flowdown, a new trail build by the Revelstoke Cycling Association last fall. It's like Frisby ridge, but in the trees. Smooth and flowy, and fast, made for a nice recovery from the previous day.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Lost and FOUND

Astute readers will remember an event earlier this year that really bunged me up and changed my perspective. While I have put that episode behind me, all winter I was reminded of it because I was still missing one of my prized Dynafit Manaslus...Until now.

Lots of snow and some cool lines up on Warspite

Didn't get my chance this season to ski this col, but it still looks good to go

A shot from December

Start zone. Steep rollover and no trees to anchor. Something to watch for: steep  open sections in the trees

one happy son of a bitch

Neat ridge around treeline elevation


Avalanches are powerful forces of nature, this wasn't from the one I was involved in, or else I would not be here typing this today.

Successful salvage mission

Bindings and edges sustained some rust. Hopefully a tune and a binding rebuild will take care of that
So yeah, not something I ever want to have to do again...

"I haven't seen it rain like this in the 2 months that I've been living here"

Just doing my best at trying to fit into the Canmore scene:

That's right, wearing a down jacket in the middle of summer!


Racing in Revelstoke this weekend. PUMPED!