With almost 4 meters of new snow in the last month, it was really nice to wake up to some cold and clear arctic high pressure up north in Canada. The snowpack has doubled in depth, tightened up and the last storm finished off with a sweet icing of cold smoke. All of this has coincided with my first few “days off” from life at Valhalla Mountain Touring. I know, tough life that I live, having to be up at a backcountry ski lodge full time. But its nice to ski somewhere different, drive a car, and watch TV in a hotel room after 6 weeks of not even turning my cell phone on, or driving more than 5km to the dump once a week!
The colors set in and the trails disappear under a thick bed of red, green and yellow leaves. The trails that have been nice and dry for most of the summer turn into sticky, muddy terrain and the shinny roots stare at you, trying to make you slip on every turn. The hot summer days make way to chilling, dark and rainy days. When all these elements come together, it only means one thing — it’s time for epic rides!
Your daily ride might involve a lot of things, but how often do you come across this? “You never know what you might run into during a seemingly normal ride around Banff, Alberta,” as Justin of Venture There says. We figured it was a fitting photo to end our Ride of the Week contest with.
Thanks to everyone that submitted! We’ll be announcing our grand prize winner next week. And even if your photo wasn’t selected, keep your eyes on the Osprey Bike Blog, because we’ll be featuring more contests soon.
If I remember correctly, I started mountain biking in 1985. I worked all summer in West Vancouver landscaping to save enough money to get my first bike — a blue and white Gary Fisher Montare.
From the get go I was hooked, I mostly used my bike to get my skinny 15 year old legs stronger for ice hockey try outs in the fall, and ski season in the winter. By the summer of 1986, I started racing my mountain bike and had instant dreams of becoming the next John Tomac. Only a handful of people had mountain bikes at my high school in North Vancouver, which eventually became the place they call the North Shore — the birth place of free-ride mountain biking. One thing I remember most about riding back then was that you could get lost for hours and never run into a soul. Now, there is a constant flow of mountain bikers from all parts of the world.
All I can say is “WOW” what a fun way to end the race season!
Because of shift work and home renovations, my final big race of the season was going to be another 24-hour solo event. Chico Racing puts on two 24-hour events a year, Summer Solstice and Hot August Night, as well as other Mountain Bike events.
Hot August Night is held in Bolton, Ontario and runs from noon on Saturday to noon on Sunday. We couldn’t have asked for better weather, although it may have been a tad hot, but no complaints since the three previous 24-hour events had been spoiled with rain. They set up a course that was fun for all riding abilities. There were some awesome fast single tracks, as well as some technical down hills, and yes — a lot of climbing.
Last Tuesday I woke up to another cold gray morning alongside the Belly River in northern Glacier National Park, only 6 miles from the northern terminus of the Continental Divide Trail. I pried myself from the warmth and comfort of my sleeping bag, slipped on my shoes, and undid my bear hang. After chucking everything into my pack I started off down the mushy, muddy trail along the Belly River.
Soon I came across some fresh Griz tracks, which got me singing some made up songs, loud enough to scare any bears with any remote musical taste far, far away. As I hiked, the mountains turned burnt pink with an early alpine glow. Thimble berries lined the trail all the way to the border.
Before I knew it I was standing on the Chief Mountain Highway hugging the border monument. (Road walks aren’t really my favorite).
A mere half hour later I found myself in a friend’s van on the way to Park Cafe, a local favorite whose slogan is “pie for strength.” We ate an entire peach pie and they were kind enough to give me tokens for a 12 minute shower. That left me heading up the Going to the Sun Road (by car) satisfied; full, clean, and in good company.
You know the rest of the saying. Sometimes it hurts to say it, but you can say it with me right now. “Try, try (try, try) AGAIN!” This is kind of a basic tenet of alpine climbing, or maybe all climbing really; actually, life itself. So what am I trying to get at here?
If you followed my last post, it was a video from the a trip I took to the Adamant Mountains in 2008, a recap of some attempts, successes and failures from a great 10 days in the mountains. A lead in to climbing there again this season. And we did climb there again this year…
July 13th we (Craig and Jeremy) decided to drive to the Golden, BC to pack and prep to fly into our glacier camp at the base of some amazing summits. Camp would be a 10 minute walk from 2 unfree-climbed 600m alpine big walls. Drool.
But for the few days leading up to our departure, way too much time was spent looking at the weather models, trying to figure out if we had any chance of some long awaited BC summer high pressure. For details I can’t really get in to (let’s just say extenuating personal circumstances of a team member) we decided to give it a try anyway, and by the morning of the 14th we were waiting to fly in from a random logging road, and watching the black clouds prevent our passage.
I’m 40 years old, father of a two, Caleb who is four and Sophie, two.
I‘ve always enjoyed riding but I’ve really embraced this passion over the last four years, as I was introduced to mountain bike racing. I race not only for the competitive aspect but also that it motivates me to stay in shape. I bike to work every day. Probably very ordinary to most of you, but biking year round through the Saskatchewan winters where temperatures plummet in -30 degrees Celsius… Not so ordinary. You might say I’m a little nuts but that’s okay — it beats buying a second vehicle!
This weekend my local mountain bike club, Off-road Syndicate (ORS), held its annual race, The Wascana Challenge, at the scenic and popular Wascana trails. This race is part of the Saskatchewan inter-provincial race series.
Saskatchewan is located pretty much in the middle of Canada, right in the middle of the Canadian Prairies. One might think what’s the challenge, when you’re riding on flat prairie landscape. Although the Prairies are flat, erosion by rivers, or maybe even glaciers melting, created a series of valleys which provide us with some interesting trails, perfect for endurance cross racing. Wascana trails offer some steep climbs and technical descents in treed areas and also some nice flats to catch your breath in between.
Our summer here in Saskatchewan has been particular wet this year, as we usually enjoy a semi-arid climate. Heavy rain fall two days prior to the race, made the trails very slippery and made some areas even more challenging to ride. As most of the trails are hard pack, traction was minimal. Heat was also a concern for most of us who are not use to riding in hot and humid conditions. So needless to say the race was pretty demanding.
The first lap was a little frustrating as I caught up with some slower riders and had to wait until after the first climb to be able to pass. Once that was done I was pretty much on my own for the last two laps.
The last lap was, and always is the most demanding as fatigue and pain sets in. I had plenty of water for the entire race and never felt the effects of dehydration. (Hydraulic packs are nice. A hydraulic pack used to be a six pack, stuffed in my back-pack on my way home from work on a Friday!)
I manage to finish forth in my wave, with a time of 1 hour, 44 minutes — 2nd in my category — pretty good considering the conditions. Well that’s it for me this time around, so keep riding and have fun!
Having wanted to ski the remote Glacier Peak in the North Cascades for a while now, my brother and I finally lucked out with promising weather and hit the road for three days. With a great late snow season we were confident there would be snow left to ski, even if it was almost August, and we were fueled by our inspiration to keep the “turns-all-year” spirit alive.