Gravel/all-road/under-biking is de rigeur these days, for a multitude of reasons. Whether you're looking for escape from the hazards of dealing with cagers on open roads, a way of exploring terrain that you'd previously ignored, a reason to keep the 'cross bike rolling during the "off-season," or whatever your desired rationale, it's nice to see more options popping up in the lower Mainland. For those who are looking for something other than the familiar Fisherman's Trail loop, the off-road ascents to Cypress, Grouse, or Seymour in North Vancouver, or any of the many dyke paths, this is going to be a worthy challenge.
Mark May 5th on your calendars for the Ride for Water. The course has been set by Matt Scott, the devious mind behind the great ValleyCX series, and has plenty in store for both fledgling and veteran gravel grinders. The ride will feature both long and short courses, with aid/water stations and multiple time-cuts/bailout points that will give riders the option of taking paved roads back into town should they find themselves biting off more than their legs can chew. The ride will start and end at Old Yale Brewing, who will be setting up a beer garden in collaboration with a few other craft brewers from the Fraser Valley and hosting a wrap-up party with live music. PS: your event entry comes with a post-ride meal and beer ticket.
A few of us had the opportunity to pre-ride parts of the course last weekend. I've put together a little preview for ya'll, but the incessant rain and dirt jammed my camera about halfway through, so I wasn't able to get everything. Anyway, here goes:
Everything starts off nice and mellow. Riders will be on dyke paths and a brief paved road section before things start getting vertical on Slesse Rd. The lower grade is pretty chill, but the climb will feature several kicks into the mid-to-upper double digit gradients, so pacing (and gearing) is going to be key. Remember, you're still going to have a full day ahead of you.