Into The Mystic

"Is it open yet?"

The frequency with which this question was asked in the last few weeks/months became a running joke on local MTB channels. It's not like there's a shortage of other riding options around here, but I get it; I've been religiously checking TrailForks every week, waiting for the magical day when the full ascent into the alpine would open.

And then, last Thursday, it did:

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The next question I had to ask was "can my body do this?" Specifically, my left hand. For the past three weeks, I've been dealing with a sprained thumb and index/middle fingers from going OTB. If you've ever played volleyball, you probably know the feeling that accompanies your fingers being jammed backwards after botching an attempt at setting the ball. It's taken three weeks to be able to make a fist again and I still didn't have full grip strength back, but I figured a rudimentary taping job would let me get through the day.

This is a ride I've wanted to do since I fully embraced the knobby-tire life last summer, but the province got smoked out from the wildfires and by the time I felt comfortable enough with my own skill level, the descent down Lord of the Squirrels would have been torn to shreds.

So, with a few days notice, a small crew was gathered for an all-day adventure into the alpine. We parked near a lake at the bottom and began our slow-but-steady slog across the flank of Mt. Sproat for about an hour before even getting to the ascent trail proper. Everybody came well stocked with plenty of fluid and snacks, so it was just a matter of making steady progress upward, punctuated with a few short downward traverses to give the legs a bit of a break.

We really couldn't have asked for a better day; temps were warm enough to be pleasant without being stifling and most of the climb was done under tree cover, and once we reached the sub-alpine and things started to thin out, variable cloud cover and a nice breeze kept things manageable and the worst of the bugs away. There were still patches of snow left high up, incredibly useful for stuffing into my helmet vents and down my back for nice refreshing time.

There are a few grunty sections where I would have appreciated a lower crawl gear, but nothing is overly technical. My injury mostly held up, but the constant jarring of the bar into the web of my hand over 45 minutes of descending, along with the accumulated effect of arm pump was not ideal. Also, 45 minutes of descending is a long time. Think you've got strong legs? Do you like doing wall sits? Well, this is kind of like doing wall sits while you're getting bounced around during a really long earthquake.

If you're considering this, just be prepared for a long day. The view up top is worth the effort.

#killooet

Two team camps in one year!? If this keeps up, we’re going to run out of things that rhyme with Lillooet in short order.

It’s only been two months since #nofrillooet, but a lot of things have changed since then; the snows have melted, bare arms and legs have come out to play, camping has become a viable alternative to our usual motel accommodations, and everybody has come with skinny go-fast tires this time around. What hasn’t changed is the fact that camp is always hard. The particular brand of pain that gets inflicted upon you varies with each iteration, but at least all the routes are out-and-back, so if/when you get spat out the back, at least you get some recovery time before getting swept up by the group on the return.

In all honesty, the most difficult part of Mighty Camp is being able to capture decent photos. The folks who opt to make the trek north are usually looking to put some hard mileage in and aren’t really into noodling around. Case in point: after stopping at the top of a switchback descent to get some snaps, I watched the group roll away and ended up chasing for 17km solo over some pretty washboard-y dirt to make it to the turnaround. It didn’t help that I ripped open one of my few remaining gels, managing to get more of it on my hands, shifters, bibs, and legs than actually into my mouth hole. The most fun parts of the ride also happen to be the fast/twisty bits and the last thing I want is to cause a pileup in the name of snagging something for the ‘gram.

So, enjoy these brief glimpses into some of the chiller moments from the weekend.

COTR18 - Day of Thunder (from two sets of eyes)

Shot by “real” Meat:

Shot by “fake” Meat:

Kamloops Invasion

The VCXC Crew (and friends) made the long trek up to Kamloops this past weekend for the BC Interior Cross CactiCross double-header. Despite the name, there were no cacti to be found. Kudos to the course designers for maximizing space usage; although the park we were in was quite small and required a lot of doubling back, the course flowed well and never felt like we were sprinting down a series of dead straights into hairpins. Intermittent rain on day one left made for some greasy corners in the latter races, but things dried up and turned things quite tacky for day two. The beach sand along the river was, dare I say, the perfect consistency: firm, fast, and well-packed in spots and loose enough to let the bikes get drifty in others, and at the same time, not heavy enough to sound like it was imploding my drivetrain.

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I'm back: Lower Mainland CX#1: Donkey Cross

Pardon my absence over the last few months. I’ll bore you with the details at some other point because I know all you really want are ‘cross photos. I’m sorry for the blatant lack of coverage of the novice/intermediate women’s field; I’m still adjusting to the new race day schedule and having them go off right after my field finishes means that I’m going to have to make some changes to my post-race changing/eating routine in order to not keel over AND do the photo thing. I’ll be better next time, I promise.

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