Wednesday, September 26, 2012


 Last winter's record snowfalls and the June monsoon had delayed my exploration of the alpine riding beyond the Canmore townsite. Racing also delayed this, but the motivation to ride my bike and the friendships formed made up for missed opportunities. September arrived and I realized that I had not yet explored many of the trails that I had heard wonderful stories about from guidebooks and internet forums. Fortunately, September has been mild and dry. Any snow that had fallen has quickly melted.

Lately, I have become addicted to big, long, descents. Shorter descents are plentiful in the trails I ride right from the house, and they will remain rideable when winter starts to take its grip on the high mountains.

Something special happens when I am able to earn a nice long descent under my own power. I feel like I have accomplished something, and I quickly forget about the suffering as I let my brakes go and feel the flow of the trail. The long climbs also seem to provide excellent training for the upcoming winter season.

I don't mind watching a group of shuttlers bang off a couple of laps while I climb up a dusty road. The trails down might need a bit of a raking, but at least they are developed and somewhat maintained.

6" bikes are amazing. They can make quick work out of climbs and are enjoyable on the descent. A quick "warmup" lap the day before.

The June monsoon took its toll on the trails.
Beautiful fall colours
However, it is possible to widen the scope of big self powered descents by considering trails that do not have open roads to the top. These have been one of my main focuses for the fall.
After some hike-a-bike up steep roads and along a ridge, we were rewarded with a short descent before completing the rest of the ascent up the face.

It was some steep pushing, but hopefully it was rideable on the way down.

Looking down the ridge, the knoll where the road stops and the shuttlers descend from looks far down.

Nate, confidently riding the steep, loose, rock

and nailing any switchbacks on the way.

The top was a little too steep and exposed for my liking, I checked my ego and walked. It was more rideable for me lower down.
It is amazing what we are capable of doing. I really enjoy this style of mountain biking as I don't feel so "out there" as I can quickly descent back to the trailhead.

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