Wow, we had such a nice week, 6 days in the Mount Fernie Provincial Park, 5 days of mountain biking, all of which we did without driving as so many trails intersect with the park.  We only had one noisy night, which not surprisingly was Saturday, once the weekend crowd went home it was pretty peaceful and quiet in the campground.  We quickly established a daily routine: slowly peek out heads out of the tent around 9 am, as that is when the sun was just getting through the trees and warming things up.  One of us would crawl out, put on our warm clothes, and fire up the stove to make coffee and breakfast.  We’d enjoy the coffee, I’d knit and wait for it to warm up some more, slowly taking off the toque, baktus scarf, fleece vest, long sleeve shirt, and wool socks.  Finally around 11 am or 12 we’d get our biking clothes on and head on out for the days adventure.  After riding around for 2-4 hours we’d cool off in the nearby creek, relax, and maybe head into town for coffee and groceries.  We went out for dinner once at the Red Tree Lodge as it was Mojito night, and had breakfast twice at the Blue Toque (what a great name, I wore my blue toque both times we went!). 

The trails were sublime, over the 5 days, and only biking in one of 3 areas around Fernie, we hardly repeated a trail except that I could spend days going up and down Old Goat, up to the top of Snake Bite, over and over and over.  It was that much fun.  Many of the curvy single track trails are through old growths of cedars, which make for quiet riding, a bit mysterious.  There were many tricks that even I could handle, although we stayed away from the “big stunts”.

Anne Going down Verboten Stunt

Riding down Snake Bite is my idea of the best mountain biking; rhythmically flowing turns and curves, up and downs that rock you gently more than jar, fun obstacles to maneuver over, skills used but not taxed, a dreamy song playing in your head the whole way down.  So much fun.

We did not miss the phones, tv, computers, radios etc.  While the light was good I knit away on the back of my snowflake sweater while we made a fire, cooked dinner, or chatted.

Anne knitting by the fire

We listened to the birds, we watched the chipmunks, we watched the bikers cruise by, or other campers, saying hello.  There was a black bear that was supposed to be coming often through the campground, but we didn’t see it, which is good as we spend the first day eating blueberry pie and I wasn’t about to share.  Like most vacations it took me a number of days to relax and decompress from the rigors of everyday life.  By the end however the fog had cleared, and I felt normal again, and very happy.  I read a few books as well, including “Pride Prejudice and Zombies” which was a lot of fun. 

I think we planned well, coming home on Saturday after another huge breakfast at Blue Toque, to hang out with the kitties.  They had really missed their patting, and scritching, so we worked hard to make up for it.  Jackie woke me up from a nap on both days for extra patting, and Piper insisted on sleeping on my hands during my nap instead of just behind my knee.  They missed us for sure!  Getting up for work this morning was hard, but we rode our bikes into downtown which made it seem easier.  And until we get a money tree, here we are!


24 HRS Race Recap

July 27, 2009

I had such a good weekend, I don’t really know where to begin.  I’ll begin with the moment that all my stress and worries about my current troubles melted away into one word: “Whee!”.  I was fourth up on the roster, and started my lap around 4:30 pm, a great daylight lap, just after a bit of rain knocked down the heat and some of the dust.  I pinched my finger getting my bike off the stand, and headed off on course.  The race starts with some mild climbing, gradually winding its way up above the nordic center.  It gets fun when you switch onto single track, and keep climbing over roots, and rocks, under a canopy of pine trees.  I was breathing hard, my heartrate was high, but I made it up to the top in good speed, without stopping to walk.  At the top of the climb you switch onto fun, twisty, technical single track through the trees.  Somehow I ended up by myself, with no one in front to try and pass, or behind trying to get by me.  And I thought “Whee!”.  It was so much fun, and it got better from there.  I was careful to conserve my energy on the climbs, but tried to go faster on flat sections and downhill, by the end I was letting it all out and flying up hills.  (Flying for me, not for anyone else).  I passed people going uphill, and had two people kindly move off the trail on some single track to let me go by.  Like I was fast or something!  I felt so strong, so good, and so happy.  I let a bunch of people by me, especially the soloists who were only 5 hours into their 24 hour ordeal, and some of them had come in from Italy, New Zealand, Crested Butte, Boston, so they deserve the right of way.  My goal was to do the course in 1.5 hours, and I finished it in 1 hr 40 minutes, but it had an extra 4 km over last year, which means I did really well.  With the longer course and our 10 person team I didn’t get a second lap, but I had such a great first one, it didn’t matter. 

The rest of the race time was spent cheering racers, wandering around looking at the sights (ummm there were many, many spandex clad people around, plus nice mountains) enjoying the views, making new friends, eating, and a bit of sleeping.  Julian’s first lap started close to 2 am, and I stayed up to see him off, meet him at the checkpoint, and cheer as he finished.  I sat at the checkpoint in the dark watching the racers go by with their lights, with my toque glowing in the dark, chatting with other spectators, looking for shooting stars.  I think the racers had people encouraging them the whole race, especially the soloists who by 3 am were looking grim. 

The toques went over really well, my two teammates wore theirs all night.  I think I need to make more for next year.  There are photos on another camera of us wearing them, I’ll try and get a copy. 

Anne in slow motion, almost done lap

Good weather, no injuries on our teams, smiles all around, and so much good clean fun on two wheels that you cannot believe!  Mrs C. did see one of the three bears in the area peeking around a sign, but she was so scared she just rode right by it, and climbed the next hill at the speed of light.  The smiles on our faces as we finished our laps show how much fun we had!

Adventure Week: Day 2

July 21, 2009

This past weekend we had an adventure in biking up the Jumping Pound Ridge Cox Hill Trail.  The trail description could go as thus:

Head straight up to Jumping Pound Ridge, around a few switchbacks thrown in to fool you that you aren’t going straight up.  After 1 minute of this, watch your heartrate race past “high” to “way too high” and finally accept that it may explode at any time, and its time to get off your bike and push.  The only other alternative is to collapse at the side of the trail in a heap, and that ain’t getting you up to the top any faster even if it does sound rather nice.  Once on Jumping Pound Ridge, head along semi-flat trail for a little bit, think you are doing well.  Then notice the huge  climb up to Cox Hill, and realize you had better grow new heart, legs, and and lungs fast.  The once source of pride from the day is that I did smoke that group of hikers, approximate ages 70-90.  Left them in the dust baby!!

Once at the top, if you survive, the view is rather nice if you can remember to pick yourself up from your face plant and look around:

Anne and Julian on Cox Hill

Jumping Pound Ridge can be seen over our shoulders.  And in a scene repeated on many trails across many countries, it takes this many people to fix a bike:

Bike Repair

Kingdom Trails Vermont, Circa 2004, just before I moved to Salt Lake.

Around Burke Vermont, where the US Ski team trains at times, this little town had a bike shop and decided to make a nice summer business by creating hundreds of miles of trails and charging people $12 a day to ride. For how much fun these trails are, that is cheap!  They got the farmers together to give them access to their woodlots, and created an awesome place to ride, especially in the fall.  Plus the farmers get extra income, which is great in my mind as its so hard to make it as a farmer in these harsh times.  As we drove down to Fernie, through a great number of ranches with wooded hills, I was wondering if this model could work in Southern Alberta.  Wouldn’t that be great?  This place also created my nostalgia for little Vermont general stores, awesome sandwiches, and Death by Chocolate Cakes.  And after you’ve been riding for four hours, you get to eat it all!

No Spills, just fun!

July 28, 2008

As Mum as already been duly informed, I had a great weekend that did not involve any spills off my bike, and no blood.  The boys on our team, being boys, did have a spill or two, but nothing too critical.  And I did get to meet up with Heather from Salt Lake, who got to take in the start of the race.  So where to start?  Picture hundreds of riders, over 150 soloists (who rode mostly non-stop for 24 hours), and 1400 people on teams.  Hundreds of bikes on the course, hundreds of people camping, cooking, partying, having a grand old time.  Picture kids running around on their tiny bikes, helmets bigger than the rest of their bodies competing in the 24 minutes of Adrenaline.  At night, lines of lights going up, and up, and up the trails, snaking through the woods, racing by on the course.  Seeing the soloists in the morning on the trail, in a coma-daze, not responding, not even there really.  Falling over, getting back on, and pedaling, pedaling, pedaling.  Covered in mud, blood, sweat, and more mud. 

I wasn’t worried about Phil the bear (I named him to make him less scary) as he was seen quite close in to our campsite.  So I slept with him only 100 ft away, but I knew on the trail he was far away.  Make sense?  Plus it was difficult enough at night to keep my bike upright, going forwards, without worrying about anything else.  You couldn’t do anything but concentrate on what was coming up.  At night your world is reduced to a small spot of light, only 4 ft ahead of you, and you have to react instantly to dips, rocks, roots, and whatever is there.  You can’t lose focus for an instant.  It started to rain heavily around 6 pm, stopped, and started again a few times.  I did my first lap just after 9 pm, and the course was already a mud pit.  Most of the trail I had to walk over, it was unridable for me.  My calves cramped from pushing the bike uphill.  Here is the before shot:

Unfortunately my light went out just before Checkpoint #2, so I rode quickly to where my teammates were waiting on the course and got new ones put on.  You can ride so much faster when you can see!  Here is the after shot:

I kinda felt a bit like this as well, but no nearly as muddy as other people.  Like Mike here:

Mike should be a mud poster boy!  Here are some more photos on Flickr if you are interested!  I got to do a second lap in the morning, which was much better as the trail had dried out a bit.  Instead of giant bog mud pits, there was a hard packed trail through it instead.  It was still wet roots that are so slick to navigate, but wonderful daylight to see them in!  I’m signing up for next year!

I do it for 24 Hours!

July 24, 2008

This weekend is the big 24 hr mountain biking race in Canmore that I’m participating in.  And I”ve been told they sell socks that do say “I do it for 24 Hours”, and I’m buying a few pairs cause that is funny!  Now some people ride this race “Solo” which means that whoever wins has ridden the most laps in 24 hours.  And the top people ride it non-stop, at full speed the whole time, as a lot of money is up for grabs, this is the World Championship race.  Other teams are two people, four people, five people, and our team is ten people.  Or a recreational team.  That means that I’ll probably two do laps, maybe three if we are fast (ha!).  All together that will be 3-4.5 hours of riding, which shouldn’t be too hard now should it?  The rest of the time I’ll be hanging out, knitting, eating, drinking (mostly water, sigh) and sleeping.  I think coffee consumption will be extremely high! 

As you know, I’ve been a bit worried after our bear encounter, and specifically during a night lap when I’m out there with just a headlamp.  Will there be a bear hiding behind every tree?  I now have it on good authority that bears sleep all night!  I repeat: bears sleep all night!.  Probably because they are tired from chasing bikers around all day, but I digress.  That means we, all the thousands of participants this weekend, will be perfectly safe!  No need to worry! 

And Mum and Dad:  I promise to be really, really, careful, and ride safely.  I can’t guarantee there won’t be any phone calls that start “Umm, Mum?”, but I will really, really, try to make it not happen. 

And I also promise to come back next week with a race report, which will most likely include photos of cute men in spandex shorts.  And maybe some ladies as well…  Until then, this is where I’ll be:

Me and Buck all the Way!!!

Bog-1, Anne-0

June 23, 2008

So it didn’t go so well yesterday, and I did not achieve many (any) of my goals.  I didn’t really even have any fun.  I can tell you the views were very nice from parts of the trail, but I was sucking wind so hard, and things were a bit spinny that I don’t really remember.  However I choose to turn this into positive things, and that means learning and moving on!  So needless to say there has been a plan formulated so that for the big race the end of July, hopefully there will not be so much crap riding from me.  It won’t be fast riding, but let’s hope it is riding and not walking.  And not so much bog action, that wasn’t very fun, but at least it was only my legs and not my face!

In case you were wondering, and I agree it looks a bit weird, I have two items tucked under my bike shorts.  On my right leg I’ve got a packet of Cliff Shots that I was eating during the race, and on my left leg are my car keys.  The jersey is the local team jersey I joined, which I think looks okay.  The “S” is for Spinsisters.  The colours are nice.  With the discount I get at the local bike store, and the amount of repairs my bike needed recently, I’ve already gotten back my entry fee.