Monday, June 28, 2010

The sun stuck around for a bit.

Yes, yes - the rain has gone away (obviously listening to little Johnny) & stayed away for most of the last ten days. I'm still working weekdays at the Banff Center - although that project is supposed to wind up this week, so with a bit of luck I'll get some more work after that. I've been riding so much I'm having trouble remembering the rides last week. Tuesday last was the Highline trail again, I think. We climbed up to the trail proper from Quarry Lake & rode west to east. This route up was pretty good - not all switchbacks & all manageable in the middle ring (for me at least) - it also looked like a gnarly ride down that would flow together nicely. This was a shorter ride than riding up the Three Sisters way or riding up to Riders of Rohan - we were back in an hour & a half. Still a good ride - & Alex seems to be keeping up with me a lot more on the downhills. It's amazing what a regular riding & a decent pair of tyres will do for the confidence.

I went & saw the tree that I rather ignominiously shoulder-barged in the rain on Friday after work. We were back at the G8 trail on the other side of the Bow Valley. This time we managed to string the loop together in the correct way & it was really quite enjoyable. Of the four rides that line the hills on the Canmore town limits, this is by far the easiest with not a lot of climbing (comparatively speaking). But that doesn't make it any less fun & a great way to unwind after the week at work. We crossed the walking trail up to Grotto (which we hiked up a few weeks ago) & headed out to the extremities of the trail that we didn't find last time, enjoyed some nice sweeping corners down a small gully, looped around & headed back to Cougar Creek (the starting point) before cruising home via a small jump park. There were plenty of easy log rides to do, & a quite a few jumps of course. The jump park was overrun with ground squirrels, which were quite amusing.

A group of seven of us went for a little hike on Saturday afternoon. Driving past Banff on the Transcanada, we turned west at Castle Junction on to Highway 93 to walk to Arnica Lake. It was only five kilometres to the lake & only 350 m (climbing) - but having to descend first to Vista Lake, lots to look at & a larger group we took our time.

Looking back across the Bow River to Castle Mountain

The alpine Arnica Lake still had a layer of ice on it - which we amused ourselves with trying to land rocks on it, alas it was too thin.

After watching most of England's unfortunate exit from the second round, Alex & I headed back to the Heart Creek parking lot. We had a slightly more ambitious loop planned for another beautiful Sunday. We started by retracing our path of two weeks previous & heading up to Jewell Pass. We never worked out why we saw so few people out & about - only a few climbers in the parking lot & a couple of hikers on the trail early on were all we saw before we reached the top of the pass. Having been rather uncomfortable on the climb from the recently inflated rear tyre, I let a little air out before what I knew was going to be another fantastic blast down Jewell Pass - & it was, unfortunately I got a snakebite half way down - grrrr. After changing that tube, we carried on down to the power lines & finally met some more people out enjoying the countryside.

Having found another geocache, it was a ten kilometre ride up the valley to Nakiska Ski Area. Mostly we followed the power company access track, which was mostly pretty annoying gravelly rutty uphill. We could see over to Baldy Pass which we rode over last weekend - it's over there just to the left of the right-hand peak:
Getting quite hungry by this time, we followed the cross-country skiing trails up to a bridge that we spied on the map boards (a quick side note - many of the recreational areas around here have great little & simple map boards at most intersections, so convenient). It was a long climb (mostly because we were hungry I suspect) to the bridge - & the bridge wasn't even a bridge, it was a culvert with no troll underneath (the falls just downstream were called Troll Falls). Nonetheless, we had lunch & carried on up to Skogan Pass. It was reasonably gentle climb (middle ring - all day in fact) up to 2150 m over seven or eight kilometres of the road.
After passing through a little residual snow we took the little side trail up to the top of the pass for some great views over the Bow Valley. There is Canmore down in the distance:
The Three Sisters - centre & just right of - not quite as impressive from this angle

It was mostly power company access road for the descent - with a little bit of annoying climb to mix it up a bit. It was a good fast descent - my bike computer had somehow come back to life - I spent a lot of the drop over 45 km/h & almost hit sixty at one stage. In parts the trail narrowed a bit & near the bottom we met a couple of groups of hikers - thankfully on wide open sections where we could see them in plenty of time to slow down a little.

Back down near the TransCanada highway, we still had a little way to go to get back to the car. Given the choice of the highway or the TransCanada Trail - we took the singletrack. It started off pretty mellow, & then started climbing up above the highway & got quite tricky with lots of roots, rocks & steps. By this time we were getting pretty tired (over five hours out by then) & a lot of the sketchy looking obstacles were walked over. There was some neat soft moss around that was good for resting on:
Pushing up a long rockface for a minute or so I was glad to reach the top, but also noticed my recently replaced rear tube was getting a bit soft. Stupidly, I ignored it as it wasn't long until we reached the car. Of course, I got another pinch flat within fifty metres. Alex left me to patch it alone as he seemed to think he was going a lot slower than me. I patched two holes & then enjoyed the singletrack until we hit more fire road & a big climb & I noticed that my tyre needed pumping up again (I found a third hole on the inside of the tube in a different place this afternoon) - this was just getting frustrating. I eventually made it back to the car shortly after Alex - that last section ended up being close to seven kilometres of the most technically demanding trail we had had all day, not the best when you are already a bit tired. So in the end that was a six and a half hour adventure, fifty kilometres, 1600 m of climbing & two flats to keep my hand in at pumping up tubes.

To round the weekend off with a bit more exercise, we had a short game of social soccer on Sunday evening - can't think why I was a bit sore climbing up the stairs to the roof this morning at work.

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