Friday, May 28, 2010

Don't go riding with someone who owns a gym - if you want to keep your lungs from exploding.

Work last Sunday was definitely under the categories of "try anything once" & "what the heck, I don't have a permanent job & need the money". I spent the day housekeeping at a local hotel - rather repetitive work & the only highlight was the free lunch (there's no such thing of course) of bacon, eggs, sausages, potatoes, pancakes, loads of salad & dessert. Knocked off a bit late as it was a long weekend & we had thirty-four rooms to clean between the two of us. A quick dash to Safeway later & I had my contribution for the night's barbecue in hand - lots of veges & some little sticks for kebabs.

The barbecue was a couple of blocks away at Zara (from the hike up Eeor the previous day) & James' apartment. Lots of great food (the kebabs had a bit of a kick to them too after someone found the cayenne pepper to add to the marinade) & it was neat to meet friends of Alex & Megan's. James is a dab hand at home-brew - the stout was particularly good & it was nice to have a real ginger beer, even if it was a little on the fizzy side. With quite a few of the people there keen on riding, it wasn't long before tentative plans were made to meet up for a ride on the morrow (a public holiday - Victoria Day). The girls were keen to ride Goat Creek Trail to Banff & back, the guys weren't so keen on a 50 km return trip on quite wide trail.

After a nice sleep in (unfortunately for Alex he had to go to work), the ride was organised for 12.30 pm. I met Neil, James, Tanner (from the barbecue) & Jeremy & we biked through town to the east side of the valley & rode up beside Cougar Creek to get to the start of the Montane Traverse. It was quite chilly riding in the sun to the trail-head with the breeze, but by the time we were in the trees it quickly warmed up. This was in part due to being much more sheltered, but mostly because of two very steep climbs that we hit almost straight away. Neil, being really quite fit (he's the aforementioned gym owner) cruised on up quite easily, & the rest of us ended up walking small to large parts of the end of each climb.

Unfortunately, I forgot my camera so there are no photos from that ride. The ride after the two horrid climbs lived up to its name & traversed along towards Harvie Heights (beside a golf course - for the second time in a month I was pretty much riding along a golf course). This trail was in great condition with lots of roots to negotiate & the odd little downhill to keep it interesting. All of a sudden one would go from a dirt & root trail to the crossing of a stream bed with big chunky rock to try & ride over, usually getting out of the stream bed was a bit difficult. Once the big climbs were over & I started to catch my breath a bit, I was able to almost keep up with Neil & his local knowledge - but at times, he would seemingly just take off. A nice technical steep downhill before we got to Harvie Heights & then started to turn back on trail that flowed very nicely & enable to one to hold on to a bit speed with confidence that a big dropoff or rock wasn't around the corner. Eventually we found the highway & we rode along this for a couple of kiolmetres back to the Irongoat beside Cougar Creek. At the Irongoat we enjoyed sitting on the patio in the sun with a few pitchers & patiently waited for the clouds to move when they were so rude to get in the way. After more pitchers & a good plate of nachos, the girls turned up - they weren't so ambitious in the end & only made it as far down Goat Creek as Megan & I did in February on light touring skis - that is about half way.

It was the Montreal Canadiens last game in their Stanley Cup semifinal series against the Philadelphia Fliers - & as they were the last Canadian team left in the NHL they had some support in these parts. After returning from the ride & showering, I was off out again to see if I could get in to (ice) hockey - couldn't really. The rest of the week I've been back at the Banff Center temp labouring - feels like I've spent a lot of the week pushing a vacuum cleaner around after contractors - not too bad & the iPod helps if it does get a bit too boring. Boring or not, it's some much needed income. I found a huge diesel engine tucked away behind one of the staircases today - apparently enough to provide the entire Banff Center with back-up electricity. It reminded me of the huge Caterpillar engine that was put in MP01 - I bet it is not so yellow now, but just as loud. In fact, quite a few things remind me of NZ Steel - mostly wandering around in hardhat, steel-toed boots, safety glasses, gloves & Hi-Vis.

Tuesday after work, James, Zara, Megan & I went for a little ride up towards the Nordic Center. The others were able to show me how to get up there mostly avoiding the roads & there were some nice little bits of singletrack in places - unfortunately I got my first puncture in over fourteen months (haven't had one since the two I got in Karapoti 2009).

I had found a room to move in to this weekend, but Steve made a slight error with regards to his other flatmate's parents coming to visit, so it turns out I can't move in until July. He was suitably embarrassed, but it shouldn't turn out to be too much of a big deal. Especially now, that Megan & Alex finally have more than one seat in the living area. Another hike planned for Sunday, up Grotto; & if the weather clears by Saturday (it's got quite cold & wet the last day or so - good days for going to work) hopefully a ride then.

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